Flyers done pursuing free agents for now

Paul Holmgren
Paul Holmgren
Posted: July 27, 2012

Having failed in his bold attempt to add restricted free-agent defenseman Shea Weber, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren will try a more conventional method to improve his team.

"Now we move forward and see what we can do," Holmgren said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, one day after Nashville retained Weber by matching the Flyers' 14-year, $110 million offer sheet.

Holmgren said he did not plan to pursue any other restricted free agents, such as the Rangers' Michael Del Zotto or Montreal's P.K. Subban. "I don't think there are any Shea Webers out there that are left in that category," he said, "so I don't see that as being an option, certainly this year."

The veteran GM hinted that trade talks for Anaheim winger Bobby Ryan, the pride of Cherry Hill, are not dead.

"You are asking me to comment on a player on another team. I don't think I can do that," he said. "We look always to make our team better. We like our team. We are trying to add to our team without subtracting if at all possible, make it better yet. We will see what the rest of the summer brings."

That sounds like Holmgren may go back to Anaheim and try to deal some of the draft picks he would have lost to Nashville if the Predators hadn't matched the offer sheet.

Anaheim reportedly asked for Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn in earlier trade talks with the Flyers, who do not want to deal the promising forwards.

"We believe we have a good, young team that is only going to continue to get better," Holmgren said, adding the Flyers "will look and see what we can do to make our team better, but our mind-set is, 'We like our team.' So, we are not looking to make big changes."

Holmgren said that he was close to re-signing restricted free agent Jakub Voracek and that he envisioned the 23-year-old right winger on the Flyers' top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell.

The GM said he felt "disappointment" when he learned Nashville had retained Weber on Tuesday afternoon.

The front-loaded deal "was structured where we were hopeful that they wouldn't match it. But obviously, they did, and as I said, we wish Shea and the Predators all the best," Holmgren said. "We tried to add, in our minds, one of the best defensemen in the game to a good, young, up-and-coming team, and it didn't work."

Holmgren said Weber's stature - he called him "one of the best players in the game" - made it worthwhile to pursue him. "But that doesn't mean we don't like our defense moving forward," he said. "We looked at that as an opportunity to add one of the top defensemen, if not the top guy. Our shot, it didn't work. I love our defense; I love the youth of our defense. We have good size, and we have some kids that have a taste now in Marc-Andre [Bourdon], Erik [Gustafsson], and Brandon Manning as well. We added Bruno Gervais in the summertime, who we really like. We are perfectly happy with our defense right now."

Holmgren said he would like to add unrestricted free agent Shane Doan, but the veteran winger's preference is to go back to Phoenix if the franchise remains there. Doan visited the Flyers on Saturday.

"I think in the end he would rather be in Phoenix in a perfect world," Holmgren said. "[It's] where his family has been raised. If he is ready to make a move, we have interest."

The Flyers have about $7.8 million in cap space, excluding their own restricted free agents that they plan to sign. In addition, they will gain $4.9 million in cap relief if Chris Pronger goes on the long-term injured list.

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