The Philadelphia Flyers should sign Ville Leino, first of all, to a mid-to-long-term contract worth between $2.5 million and $3.5 million a year.
Leino has been very vocal about wanting to stay in Philly and has helped Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren by holding off his contract negotiation until now. Hopefully, head coach Peter Laviolette will keep the Tastycake Line—made up of Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere and Leino—together since they were dominant throughout the regular season in 2010. If he does, the trio will probably play as the second line.
Next up is a big defenseman. Andrej Mezsaros played very well last year, earning the team's top defenseman award.
However, his partner, Sean O'Donnell, may be gone as he is a UFA and wants at least his $1,300,000 cap hit from last year back.
Since Matt Carle has had some problems defensively in the playoffs, look for Mezsaros to give him a run for his spot playing with the veteran Chris Pronger. Also Braydon Coburn should partner up with Kimmo Timonen again/
There are a couple of minor league players that could step up such as Matt Walker or Eric Gustafsson.
Another option is Joni Pitkanen, who first entered the league through the Flyer's organization. His cap hit was $4 million last year, but he would definitely be on the top two lines and sure up what would be one of the best defenses in the NHL.
Then the team needs to figure out its forward situation. They drafted a big center to fill the void of Jeff Carter in Sean Couturier at #8. The kid was one of the bigger steals of the draft as he was once considered top two talent but slipped because of his lack of skating skills.
Ian Laperriere might come back, if so that will definitely help. The top line for now seems as though it will be James Van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux, and Kris Versteeg, followed by the Briere line, mentioned above.
Then it gets tricky.
Brayden Schenn—received in the trade for Mike Richards—should be the center, and Laperriere could be the right wing.
Jakub Vorachek is a possibility. He is an RFA, had a cap hit of $1,270,833 in 2010, and will be moving from right wing on Columbus' second line. He is left-handed, though, so he should switch over comfortably.
Also the team received RFA Wayne Simmonds who had a cap hit of $821,667 in 2010—from the Kings, and he could take Laperriere's spot.
Simmonds can score goals but is most known for his physical play. He will battle Jody Shelly, who is under contract still for that spot on the roster.
Daniel Carcillo looks to be gone and Andreas Nodl just signed a two year deal worth 845K a year.
Center Blair Betts is under contract also.
My guess for that the final two lines would be a scoring line Vorachek-Schenn-Nodl and then a very good checking line—Shelley-Betts-Simmonds. The fourth line would be feared, and there is also the possibility for Nikolai Zherdev to sneak into the mix. The stick-handling and speed of Zherdev could be a valuable asset for the team if he could bring it together off the ice.
Then the Flyers should keep Oskars Bartulis, who has a cap hit of $600,000, as a seventh defenseman, figuring the team will either get Pitkanen or draft a player.
If the Flyers do go the route of the draft, they will have a decent amount of cap room left, as long as they send goalie Michael Leighton to Adirondack.
There is a possibility Philadelphia might trade a forward like Versteeg to try to make a move toward heavily sought-after Brad Richards or even a Simon Gagne return.
Richards' outrageous contract of $7.8 million a year will not be able to survive his recent injury problems. It is a long shot (and Flyers fans should not keep their fingers crossed), but Richards has had a lot of problems with the Dallas Stars management. Also, he has been vocal that he wants this contract to be his last which means—Richards being 31-years old—the teams negotiating will have to offer long-term deals.
Something Holmgren is very good at.
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