NHL Free Agency 2012: Does Flyers GM Paul Holmgrem Know What He's Doing?
Fans in Philadelphia must be wary when purchasing their favorite player's jersey because lately, it has been hard to tell whether or not that Flyer will be there next season—or if a bigger and better Flyer will come along.
Recently, the precarious nature of the Flyers' roster has caused many to wonder if Flyers GM Paul Holmgren knows what he is doing or if he has become trigger happy with signing deals and making trades.
Holmgren has been true to his large and unpredictable form during the 2012 free-agency period, signing restricted free agent Shea Weber to an astronomical $110 million offer sheet that would bind him to the Flyers for the next 14 years if Nashville does not match the offer (via USA Today).
Weber, arguably the best all-around defenseman in the NHL, has been a franchise star for the Nashville Predators. If the Predators cannot match the offer by Wednesday, Weber will join the Broad Street Bullies, making Philadelphia’s defense a force to be reckoned with.
With tensions high between the NHL and the Players’ Association and the threat of yet another NHL lockout looming, much like the one in 2005, Holmgren must have seen his opportunities aligning—perhaps for the last time.
Before the possibility of a lockout and new rule changes regarding signing players and after Weber had just lost his long time defensive partner Ryan Suter, Holmgren saw a valuable opportunity for the Philadelphia Flyers to add a great defender to his team and pulled the trigger.
Chris Pronger, captain of the Flyers and star defenseman, faced an abrupt end to his 2012 season after he suffered a concussion in a game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Pronger’s injury was ultimately a huge blow to their defense. With no timetable for Pronger’s return, acquiring Weber could effectively fill the void in the Philly defense.
By now, Philadelphia is used to makeovers—the Flyers went into last season without stars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who were traded to the Los Angeles Kings and the Columbus Blue Jackets, respectively, for Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and draft picks.
After the Kings traded defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round pick to reunite Carter and Richards, the two former Philly men brought Los Angeles all the way to the Stanley Cup.
Although the Flyers had acquired a solid, young core with players like Simmonds and Schenn, there was a lot of controversy after the Flyers dealt Carter and Richards, who had both put up numerous 60-plus-point seasons for Philadelphia prior to the trade.
The two ex-Flyers were vital in the Kings’ historic playoff run to the Stanley Cup. Richards and Carter combined for over 28 points in 20 playoff games while their former team failed to advance past the New Jersey Devils in the quarterfinals.
For Holmgren and the rest of Philadelphia, it was painful to watch Carter and Richards hoist the Cup over their heads in their very first season away from Philadelphia.
After such a painful development, it is hard to tell whether or not Holmgren's giant contract for Weber is a GM answering a door that opportunity is knocking on or if it is a reckless act of a GM desperate for redemption.
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