After the two big free agent fish (ala Zach Parise and Ryan Suter) came off the market, one would suspect that things would move a little bit faster this off season. Alas, this is not the case. Rumblings between teams and players have been sluggish with no real start to the frenzy in sight. But with Paul Holmgren as your hockey teams general manager, practically anything is possible.... Which if you think about it, can be a good or a bad thing depending on the circumstances. Despite signing Michael Leighton back and penning Fedotenko and Gervais to deals, Homer isn't likely done. He always has to make the big splash. Who will be the splash this year you think? Here's a few different names that could come to town either via sign or trade.
- Shane Doan (RW, Phoenix) - Quite simply the picture of consistency and leadership, Doan has played his entire career with the Coyotes franchise, most of those years as their captain. At 6'2", 228 he's an imposing figure at right wing and would pick up nicely where Jarmoir Jagr left off... Even if he is due a 35+ contract that would guarantee his entire deal regardless. Unfortunately though, a change of scenery this late in his career is unlikely, even if his agent was rumored to be in talks with Detroit.
- Alexander Semin (RW, Washington) - A big name on a predominantly offensive-based Capitals team for years, Semin knows how to score. In just six short seasons, he's tallied nearly 200 goals, but his biggest problem is that he can be intimidated. Plus, the Flyers never have had a good track record with Russian forwards (see: Nikolay Zherdev). He's received multiple offers from the KHL and is awaiting a deal at least somewhat similar here in the NHL, but if he were to come to Philadelphia, I couldn't see it being more than a year rental.
- Rick Nash (RW, Columbus) - Philadelphia's nightmare. The Flyers and Blue Jackets have been in talks to acquire the star winger ever since the trade deadline last year, but there's so many things going against this trade it's not even funny. 'Jackets GM Scott Howson's price has been astronomical, asking for either to both Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, Nash approaching 30 quick and with this annual cap hit of $7.8 million it's going to be difficult to find a team with that kind of flexibility. Hopefully if they come calling again, Homer let's it ring.
- Bobby Ryan (RW, Anaheim) - The most logical conclusion. Everything about the Ryan situation favors us; His hometown is in New Jersey (a 5-minute drive from where I live), he's young, dominant and has publicly come out to reporters saying he WANTS to be a Flyer! Win-win, right? Well unfortunately a deal still has to be put on the table and apparently, the Ducks GM is asking for Brayden Schenn in the swap. They hold all the cards. Just because Ryan says he wants to leave, doesn't mean the Ducks have to do anything about it. For the right price, this can happen. But it will take time and some clever thinking (of which I'm not sure Paul Holmgren possesses).
- Evander Kane (LW, Winnipeg) - Much like the Ryan situation, he's a young, promising scorer who's future with his respective team is in question. But unlike Ryan, Kane is a restricted free agent. Is he trying to force the Jets hand by lobbying for a larger deal than the qualifying offer he's received or does he actually want out? Either way the idea of him being a malcontent has to come into question when weighing the pros and cons. On the off-chance that he does leave the true north and lands here, you better believe he'd be on a short leash. This team can't afford another off-ice problem.
In 2010, it was the salary dump of Simon Gagne. In 2011, it was the jettisoning of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. This year, it was the questionable trade of James vanRiemsdyk. The point? Something. Always. Happens. Wether we like it or not, complacency is not an answer here. Sometimes it doesn't work out, but most of the time it does, and we have the front office to thank for that. In the next few months, an intricate game of poker will be played behind the scenes between the Flyers and the rest of the NHL. We just have to hope Homer doesn't blink first.