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Shea Weber Stays with Predators: 5 Defensemen the Flyers Should Pursue

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2012

Shea Weber Stays with Predators: 5 Defensemen the Flyers Should Pursue

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    Shea Weber will not be the next franchise defenseman of the Philadelphia Flyers because, on Tuesday, the Nashville Predators decided to match the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet their captain received last week, according to the Predators' official web site

    Now that Weber is no longer available, the Flyers will have to get creative in their search for a top-pairing defenseman who can lead the team's defense this season in place of captain Chris Pronger or alongside him.

    Let's look at five defensemen that Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren should pursue in the trade and free-agent markets since Weber is not an option anymore.

Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary Flames

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    Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames would be a good fit in Philadelphia if the Flyers are willing to take on his $6.68 million salary-cap hit for the next two seasons. He does have a no-trade clause, but it would be surprising if he refused to waive it for a team like the Flyers that will contend for the Stanley Cup next season.

    Bouwmeester isn't as good offensively as Weber, and he doesn't have the same shot power, but his skating skills are similar. He would probably score anywhere from 30-45 points per season with the Flyers.

    The Flyers have about $7.8 million in salary cap space right now, according to Capgeek.But defenseman Kimmo Timonen's $6.33 million cap hit will come off the books after next season.

    Philadelphia can offer Calgary a number of talented young forwards with star potential, which is exactly what the Flames need right now. Both teams should think about making a deal.

Brett Clark, Free Agent

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    Brett Clark is the best defenseman left on the free-agent market. He is a durable player who has played in all 82 games in two consecutive seasons, and he can play well defensively in his own end.

    He scored only 15 points last season and won't offer much offensively, but he is reliable on defense and can help the Flyers penalty kill, which ranked 17th in the league last season.

    Clark had a salary-cap hit of $1.5 million last season, so adding him to the roster for next season would likely be an inexpensive move for the Flyers

Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes

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    Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle was reportedly available (via Daren Millard of Sportsnet) near the NHL draft. But whether or not he is available right now, the Flyers would be smart to call Phoenix and at least see what the asking price is.

    Yandle isn't going to be better defensively than Weber, but the Coyotes defenseman could make a bigger impact offensively on the Flyers than the Predators' captain would have.

    Yandle would put up 45-60 points on the Flyers while playing on one of their top two pairings. He can blast the puck from the point and would help make better an already impressive Philadelphia power play that ranked sixth in the NHL last season.

    The Coyotes need offense at every position, so if the Flyers were willing to make young forwards Brayden Schenn or Matt Read available, Phoenix would be foolish to not listen to offers.

Jaroslav Spacek, Free Agent

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    Jaroslav Spacek is one of the better defensemen left on the free-agent market, which should tell you a lot about the lack of talent still available.

    Spacek isn't a terrible option for the Flyers, however.  He's 38 years old and is a third-pairing defenseman, but he's someone to consider if the Flyers become really desperate for blue-line help or an injury in training camp occurs.

    He played in 46 games last season and scored 15 points with the Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes.

Carlo Colaiacovo, Free Agent

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    Carlo Colaiacovo is one of the top three free-agent defensemen still available. He is a player who can provide some scoring and good defense for the Flyers.

    Colaiacovo could score 20-30 points in a season for a team like the Flyers, and he would definitely be able to have success in the Eastern Conference.

    He can play on the second pairing if needed, and would not be a very expensive addition to the Flyers. He had a salary-cap hit of $2.125 million last season in St. Louis.

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