NHL Free Agency 2012: Predictions for Remaining Philadelphia Flyers FAs
The Flyers have been linked to big names such as Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and their signings are holding up the entire NHL free-agent class.
But there are still eight players from last season's team that don't have contracts in Philadelphia and could be valuable parts of the team next year.
Here's a quick rundown of those players, along with predictions on whether or not they'll be back next year and their potential role on the team.
Tom Sestito is currently a restricted free agent for the Philadelphia Flyers. At 6'5", Sestito is an enforcer at the left-wing position.
He only played in 14 games for the Flyers last season before his season was ended by injury, but his physical presence was very noticeable. He is a good forechecker, and he definitely provides protection for the superstar players like Giroux, having registered an impressive 83 penalty minutes.
The only thing holding Sestito back from a contract is Jody Shelley. Next season, the Flyers are devoting a cap hit of $1.1 million to SHelley, another enforcer, according to CapGeek.
That's a lot of money to pay a guy whose only use is fighting, so if he's on the roster, it's a safe bet he'll be the first enforcer they call.
Still, Sestito is only 24 and should be a very cheap option as a backup for now and a replacement later.
I'm predicting the Flyers will re-sign him and have him spend most of the season with the Phantoms, getting called up for injuries or if the team feels it needs a really big tough guy to add some physicality to the roster.
Harry Zolnierczyk is another restricted free agent for the Flyers.
A high-energy player, Harry Z quickly became a fan favorite despite only playing in 37 games last season.
He's not what you'd call a super-talented offensive player, although he did show flashes of having the skills to score. His value comes more from his relentless for check and his knack for never giving up on the play.
Harry Z won't be an impact player at this point in his career, but at 24 years old, he might develop into a solid third-line forward.
For now, he's a good option for the fourth line, and I expect him to be there for the Philadelphia Flyers next year.
He shouldn't cost much money, and that's great for the Flyers as they're going to need some cheap players to produce given their chase of big contracts this offseason.
Ben Holmstrom is probably the most talented of the restricted free agent forwards coming from the Phantoms this year.
Although he has seen limited time in the NHL, only seven games over two seasons, he's a guy the team has high hopes for.
They expect him to develop into a good checking center, something he has time to do at age 25.
Given the expectations on him, I'd be surprised to see them let him go. They certainly don't need him, but having depth at center is always great.
He'll probably sign another two-way contract and then fight to win the fourth-line center role in training camp.
Pavel Kubina was a trade-deadline acquisition that the Philadelphia Flyers were hoping could add depth to a defense that looked a little shaky after losing captain Chris Pronger.
That didn't really work out, as Kubina never seemed to mesh with the other defensemen on the team. He only played 17 games in the regular season, registering a disappointing four points and minus-three plus/minus rating.
Given that he's 35 years old and his production wasn't that solid, it seems like a safe bet he won't be back on the team next year.
More than likely, he'll end up on one of the teams that misses out on the big-name defensemen in free agency this year, unless that team is the Philadelphia Flyers.
Jaromir Jagr, longtime rival turned teammate, made the Philadelphia Flyers look good for the first half of last season for signing him.
Jagr showed he still had the strength and puck control to dictate the play in the offensive zone, and his playmaking abilities were on display frequently with linemate Claude Giroux.
But Jagr's play really tailed off at the end of the season, reaching a low point in the playoff series against the New Jersey Devils.
Jagr looked slow and incapable of playing defense, and it showed when the playoffs were over and he had a plus/minus of minus-five.
Jagr is a very talented player, and his workout routine is very impressive. He sets a great example to the younger player, and his work on the power play is very valuable.
But he is going to draw more money from other teams in free agency, which is why I don't see him coming back.
I can't imagine the Flyers giving him more than the $3 million they gave him last year, but I can see a team like the Montreal Canadians being willing to pay that.
In all likelihood, Jagr will be wearing a different jersey next season.
Marc-Andre Bourdon made his debut for the Philadelphia Flyers last year and had a quietly impressive rookie season.
Playing in 45 games and registering a plus-four plus/minus is pretty impressive for the 22-year-old former third-round pick.
He looked very solid most of the time last year, and since defenders usually take longer to develop, it looks like he has the potential to be a top-four defenseman for the team.
As restricted free agent, it would be surprising to see him on a different team next year given his upside.
The only way I don't see him returning is if he's included in a trade. His play last season coupled with his age might have made him an attractive trading chip for teams looking to improve their defense, such as the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Jakub Voracek rounds out the list of restricted free agents for the Philadelphia Flyers, and he's far and above the most talented of the group.
The former seventh overall pick came over in the Jeff Carter trade last season and had a pretty impressive season. He showed flashed of the talent that led to him being taken so high by posting 49 points in 78 games.
He is one of the few players who is capable of taking over a game when he's at his best, but his best has been frustratingly hard to find in his first few seasons.
Voracek has tons of upside and could still develop into a great forward. He's already a top-six forward on the team, and there's no way they let him go for nothing.
Just like with Bourdon, the only way I see Voracek leaving is via trade.
The Anaheim Ducks will want a good young forward if they trade Bobby Ryan, a guy the Flyers covet, and Voracek might be the most expendable of the guys that Anaheim would be interested in.
Because of that, I thing there's a good chance Voracek gets traded this offseason.
But if he isn't traded, look for him to be back in the orange and black next year, putting up career-high numbers.
Matt Carle has become synonymous with consolation prize this free agency.
The talented puck-moving defenseman is considered the second best free-agent defenseman available, behind Ryan Suter.
Carle won't sign until Suter does, as he's trying to maximize his value to teams that miss out on Suter.
The Philadelphia Flyers are very likely to be among those teams.
Carle is a great fit here: He led the team in shots blocked last year, he's been solid ever since they acquired him, and the Flyers should have the cap space to bring him back.
The roadblock for Carle's return is that every other team in the NHL that currently needs a defenseman, minus the one that signs Suter, will also probably be interested in Carle.
Carle hitting the open market was terrible for the Flyers, as the expected numbers for his contract have been going up by the hour since free agency started.
I don't see Carle coming back, as I think the Flyers will end up getting outbid by a team that swung and missed on Suter. He's just starting to get too expensive for his own good, and the Flyers already have five good defensemen.