Flyers' priority is signing Carle

Posted: June 27, 2012

The addition of rugged defenseman Luke Schenn, acquired in the deal that sent left winger James van Riemsdyk to Toronto on Saturday, has not altered the Flyers' plans.

They still want to re-sign Matt Carle, a puck-moving defenseman who can become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday.

"It doesn't really change anything," general manager Paul Holmgren said Monday. "We still want to sign Matt."

A torn stomach muscle that required surgery hindered Carle's effectiveness late in the season, but he finished with four goals and 34 assists for 38 points, which was tied for No. 20 among NHL defensemen. He was 15th in the league - and first on the Flyers - with 164 blocked shots.

Carle committed 55 turnovers and had 18 takeaways. Most defensemen have poor turnover/takeover ratios because of the nature of the position. Boston's Zdeno Chara, for instance, had 68 turnovers and 28 takeaways.

Holmgren remains optimistic he can re-sign Carle, who probably will get a contract that has a cap hit of at least $4.5 million per season. There have been hints that Carle's deal - which can't be completed now because of cap reasons - will be signed Sunday after the new salary cap goes into effect.

Carle's agent, Kurt Overhardt, downplayed the talk that Carle's signing is a done deal.

"All I'll say is that we have a sincere interest - and the club does - to try to get it done," he said.

If the Flyers sign Carle, would they still be in the market for another defenseman?

"Probably not," Holmgren said.

Assuming they retain Carle, then, the Flyers are unlikely to go after University of Wisconsin product Justin Schultz, a promising young defenseman who was drafted by Anaheim in 2008 but did not sign. Schultz will be among the most sought-after free-agent defensemen.

If Carle is back in the fold, he could be paired with the 6-foot-2, 229-pound Schenn. In the past, Carle has worked well while matched with another physical defenseman, Chris Pronger, a future Hall of Famer whose career is in jeopardy because of post-concussion symptoms.

Schenn, 22, "has played 300-some games and he's still on the uptick," Holmgren said. "He's going to continue to get better."

Holmgren said he had no talks Monday with Petr Svoboda, the agent for Jaromir Jagr, who is expected to test the free-agent waters Sunday.

"I'm sure we'll talk this week," said Holmgren, who believes there's a 50-50 chance the Flyers will re-sign the 40-year-old right winger.

Jagr scored 19 goals and van Riemsdyk had 11 in an injury-filled season.

While acknowledging that "losing James does create a hole, possibly," Holmgren said he is not concerned about the team's offense.

"We have people internally who can do OK," he said. "And we will continue to look and do everything we can to improve the club."

Free-agent Zach Parise and trade-available forwards Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash are the best wingers on the market.

The Flyers also are searching for a backup goalie to replace the traded Sergei Bobrovsky.

Interestingly, several former Flyers who can become free agents might fit that role, including Marty Biron, Michael Leighton, and Antero Niittymaki.

Another former Flyer, Brian Boucher ($950,000 cap hit), has one year remaining on his contract with Carolina and might be available in a deal. Boucher's family is still living in Haddonfield, and the goalie joins them after the season.

Flyers alumni. The inaugural Flyers Alumni Golf Invitational will be held Tuesday at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown. The noon event benefits Comcast-Specator Charities, and many former Flyers will participate, including Bernie Parent, Bob Clarke, Mark Howe, Eric Lindros, Tim Kerr, and Dave Schultz.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow @BroadStBull on Twitter.

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