Timonen decides to re-up with Flyers for another year

ASSOCIATED PRESS Veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen still has a strong desire to play.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen still has a strong desire to play.
Posted: June 15, 2014

DAYS AFTER the Flyers' Game 7 loss to the Rangers, Kimmo Timonen acknowledged he was full of doubts as to whether he could handle the rigors of another 82-game season - both physically and mentally.

But then . . . he took a vacation, came back and turned on the television.

"Time goes by," Timonen said, "and you watch these games and watch the playoffs and start working out, you get the feeling that, 'I don't think it's time to retire.' "

So, after reassuring general manager Ron Hextall he was ready for his eighth season as a Flyer, the sides worked out a 1-year contract extension that was consummated yesterday.

Timonen will turn 40 next March.

According to a report from ESPN.com, Timonen's new deal is incentive-laden, a creative feature available only for players over 35 under the NHL's collective bargaining agreement. He will earn $2 million as a base salary, which will also serve as his cap hit.

Timonen will be eligible to earn just under $2 million in additional performance-based bonuses - such as games-played milestones - for a yearly total just a shade under $4 million. Those bonuses can be applied to the following year's salary cap for added flexibility.

Timonen earned $6 million last season, tied for 10th-highest among defensemen. He has made approximately $56.4 million in his career.

"We had so many talks with Ron, and I know exactly where the team is with the salary cap, and, moneywise, it wasn't really about money," Timonen said. "Probably the biggest thing is my family really likes it here. They were on board, saying, 'You've got to play 1 more year and go for it.' The second thing is, I like our team.

"I like our chances. It's still a young team; it gets better every year. The biggest thing is, I still want to win. The Stanley Cup is still there, which I haven't won. There's a lot of things I've been thinking about the last few weeks, and it came down to I still want to do it."

For Hextall, the decision was relatively easy. He was able to sign a high-caliber defenseman, even if he is declining, for below market value.

Even with Timonen's lack of footspeed, the Flyers will need his poise on the ice. He will provide 1 more year of solid defense, bridging the gap to a younger core led by Andrew MacDonald and eventually prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg.

"He's still a very effective player," Hextall said. "He's maybe not 25 years old anymore, but he's a real smart player. Based on what I saw this season, he can help us."

In many ways, Hextall said, Timonen will dictate how many minutes he can handle next season. Timonen averaged 20:20 per game last season, his lowest since his rookie year with Nashville in 1998-99.

"At no point this year is there going to be Kimmo being upset or us being upset or whatnot," Hextall said. "We talked everything through. Kimmo's play is going to dictate his minutes, just like any other player on the team."

Timonen has won five Barry Ashbee Trophies as the team's top defenseman - including the last three. Last season, he posted six goals and 29 assists in 77 games. He's been remarkably durable, skating in 519 of a possible 540 games in his eight seasons with the Flyers.

Timonen ranks third all-time among Flyers defensemen in points (270) and assists (232). He is tied for eighth in goals (32) and 10th in games played (519).

"I don't think it has anything to do with the Rangers or going to Game 7 or where the Rangers are right now," Timonen said. "I still think we can play better than we did against the Rangers. I just like the group. I like the chemistry, I like the guys, and I think we can win it."

Lecavalier rumors

On Wednesday, TSN's Darren Dreger reported that Vinny Lecavalier's agent, Kent Hughes, has held discussions with Ron Hextall about moving his client.

While Lecavalier has a full no-trade clause, Hextall did confirm that the sides have spoken.

"I've had discussions, but I'm not going to discuss where it's going, because, quite frankly, I don't know," Hextall said. "It's something we'll handle internally here and when we come up with something, we'll let [the media] know."

Lecavalier, 34, is entering the second year of a 5-year, $22.5 million deal. He clearly was not a fit with the Flyers last season, skating the second half of the year on the fourth line. According to Dreger, no list of acceptable teams have been provided by Lecavalier's camp.

The Flyers would likely need to eat part of Lecavalier's salary on any trade, if they'd like to receive a valuable piece in return. One possible fit would be Nashville - a budget-conscious team in desperate need of scoring - where Lecavalier could be reunited with former Flyers coch Peter Laviolette.

Slap shots

Ron Hextall said negotiations have not yet begun with restricted free agent Brayden Schenn and his agent, Craig Oster, of Newport Sports Group. He was hoping their first discussion would occur in the "next few days." Schenn, 22, is coming off a career-high 41 points over 82 games. The Flyers would like to slot Schenn with a cap hit similar to Sean Couturier's $1.75 million. He could become a hot trade commodity during the draft if the sides are unable to come to a deal . . . Hextall also said a contract for backup goaltender Ray Emery is "on hold," based on their finances. There is no guarantee the Flyers will pursue Emery, who becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.

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