After the Philadelphia Flyers re-signed defenceman Chris Pronger to a seven-year extension, it was clear they were still in need of another forward to fill out next season's roster. And with $2.2 million to work with under the cap, it had to be someone cheap.
With the top-six pretty much set in stone, the Flyers were still searching for options to fill out the bottom-six. Last season, they had some offensive depth with six players scoring 25 goals or more, and none of those players were named Danny Briere.
Two of those players have since departed Flyerdom; Mike Knuble signed with Washington and Joffrey Lupul was traded to Anaheim in the Pronger deal. Knuble and Lupul took 52 goals with them, leaving a gap in one of the most prolific offenses from a year ago.
Last season the Flyers were tied for fourth in the league with 260 goals scored and 3.17 goals per game. Much of that had to due with the fact they had three scoring lines, only the Detroit Red Wings could join the same discussion.
Philadelphia had tons of scoring depth which allowed them to survive injuries here and there by substituting in energy guys, unlike some teams like the New York Islanders—who had 581 man-games lost to injury last year.
For example, Briere missed 53 games due to nagging abdominal and groin injuries. Losing a player to his caliber on another team would have been devastating, but it wasn't for the Flyers.
Because they had six players with 25 goals or more, they were able to survive without his offense.
Players like Josh Gratton, Jon Kalinski, Andreas Nodl, and Jared Ross played important roles filling in for Briere on the roster. While they weren't putting up points, they provided a spark of energy in the bottom-six.
It was something that was undervalued by some. Nodl, for one, played in 38 games for the Flyers last season. He only posted four points and had a -15 rating, but he brought some energy to the ice.
Depth has been one of the concerns about this team as constructed right now. More importantly, the bottom-six of the lineup doesn't look as attractive as it did last year.
There are about four shoe-ins to make the bottom-six, those are Arron Asham, Daniel Carcillo, Ian Laperriere, and Darroll Powe. The competition for the final two spots consists of Riley Cote, Kalinski, Patrick Maroon, Nodl, and James vanRiemsdyk.
Until they added another name to the mix.
According to Bill Meltzer, the Flyers have signed a 28-year-old Finnish forward by the name of Mika Pyörälä. The terms of the contract have yet to be released, or as it been officially announced, but it's likely to be under a million bucks.
If you haven't heard of the fellow, well, join the club.
But I did my research to find that this could potentially turn out to be a nice find by Paul Holmgren.
Pyörälä is a versatile forward who can play both center and wing, he's a reliable two-way player who has developed a fine offensive game and always takes his defensive responsibilities.
Oh, did I mention he kills penalties?
That's something that goes in his favor for making the cut, it's his most valuable asset to the Flyers. If he can come in and prove he can kill some penalties, he'll be a lock for make the team.
Why am I so confident?
Philadelphia is looking for players that can help spell Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, in other words, let them play more 5-on-5 and power play.
Pyörälä does that.
Isn't that one of the reasons Laperriere was brought here?
It's a solid pickup, and to expect him to be in Orange and Black in Carolina to open the season isn't that far-fetched.
The Flyers also signed forward Krystofer Kolanos, who played with Minnesota last season. Kolanos, 30, spent most of last year with the Houston Aeros (AHL), tallying 51 points in 45 games. He played 21 games for the Wild, netting three goals and picking up three helpers.
It's likely going to be simply a depth move since he's a career AHLer, I don't see him making the team out of training camp or even spending time at all with the big team. He's too inconsistent, and his lack of want to play defense will not help him either.
With five of the bottom-six pretty much set, there's still one more spot open for some of the young guys to steal the final spot away from Cote.
I, like the rest of Flyerdom, am pulling for vanRiemsdyk to get the final forward spot. It's been two years since the Flyers drafted him No. 2 overall and he has yet to play a single NHL game while the No. 1 pick is already a video game cover athlete (Patrick Kane).
Now I wait patiently until the regular season begins on October 2 in Carolina.
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