Sure, Timonen is 39 and clearly past his prime. He may not have the speed he once had and can’t control the tempo of games like he did a few years ago, but he remains an experienced and reliable player who can contribute on the power play and log some important minutes under the right circumstances.
Last season, Timonen scored six goals and 35 points in 77 games and had a plus-five rating. He added one assist in seven playoff games.
Timonen wasn’t sure if he wanted to retire after last season or return for one more NHL campaign. He took some time after the playoffs ended before making his decision.
“Time goes by and you watch these games and watch the playoffs and start working out, you get the feeling that, 'I don't think it's time to retire,’” he told Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News.
In addition, the veteran defenseman told Seravalli he is confident that the Flyers have a bright future:
I like our chances. It's still a young team; it gets better every year. The biggest thing is, I still want to win. The Stanley Cup is still there, which I haven't won. There's a lot of things I've been thinking about the last few weeks, and it came down to I still want to do it.
Despite the fact that Timonen is not the player he was a few years ago, he remains the best defenseman the Flyers have on their present roster.
The veteran native of Finland won the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the team’s top blueliner last season. That’s the third straight year he’s won the award and the fifth time overall.
Timonen’s family also encouraged him to continue playing. “It wasn't the money," Timonen told Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Probably the biggest thing is my family really likes it here. They were on board, saying you've got to play one more year and go for it."
For general manager Ron Hextall, keeping Timonen around on a cap-friendly deal was an easy decision.
"He's still a very effective player," Hextall told Seravalli. "He's maybe not 25 years old anymore, but he's a real smart player. Based on what I saw this season, he can help us."
Keeping Timonen around for one more year upgrades the Flyers defense. It means the team won't have to rush prospects like Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and Shayne Gostisbehere to the NHL. Hextall can let them mature in the AHL and call them up when they’re truly ready for prime time.
Hextall still needs to improve his team’s defense before the start of the 2014-15 season.
However, adding Timonen is a step in the right direction for the Flyers, who get back an experienced veteran without losing much valuable cap space.