Flyers trying to keep team intact

by Paul Raymond | Posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Jeff CarterThe Philadelphia Flyers are still trying to figure out a way to keep last years intact and improve. That task is going to be a lot harder then most Flyers fans would think. The salary cap currently stands at $55 million for next season. To be able to keep the Big Three free agents and sign a top flight defense man need to occur.

First the team needs to resign the noted Big Three. Jeff Carter, R.J. Umberger and Randy Jones. All can become free agents on July 1st and I’d suspect they’d want to test out the market as they could all be in for some pretty big pay days. The three players all had career seasons last year and that definitely puts them in line for a raise. I know the New York Rangers were among the teams showing early interest in Carter, they’re known to spend money so the Flyers need to pony up. According to General Manager Paul Holmgren, the team was hopeful to resign these guys but nothing was particularly close at the time. The team was in fact close to resigning Riley Cote.

The problem isn’t desire its the salary cap. For one, Holmgren has put the odds of defense man Derian Hatcher returning to the team at 50/50. If Hatcher does return it could hamper the teams off-season moves, as he’s slated to earn $3.5 million next season. I’m sure Holmgren is quietly hoping Hatcher does not, as he’s not the player he once was and only participated in 44 games last season. A team that moved into the upper echelon of the league last season, would like to stay there and they can’t have dead weight like Hatcher around if they want to do so.

One area of concern for the team is defense, and they’d love to add one in the current free agent crop. Some options include John-Michael Liles, Brian Campbell, Mark Streit and Mike Commodore. All are going to be costly pieces to add to the mix. For a team that ranked 19th in the league in Goals Against last year, they really need to add someone to the mix. Performing in the bottom half of the league in this key category is not going to help them stay among the elite.

So basically it all comes down to the money. A team succeeds, then it costs more to retain their players. If Hatcher returns and the Flyers are able to retain their Big Three, there will be no money to drastically improve the defense. This means the team will have to prioritize what means the most to them, without alienating their fan base. Most fans I know love Carter and Umberger if either two of these were to slip away and fall to a rival, there will definitely be unrest. It should be an interesting off-season in Philadelphia, and with about two weeks left till free agency things are going to heat up.

Here’s some more Flyers news.

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