There are still lots of desirable free agents out there in the NHL world. The Flyers don't have much cap room, but enough to sign a supporting player that could either fill in on the right wing, win faceoffs, or be a utility-type player. The question is - WILL THEY???
Currently there are two scenarios playing out in the minds of Flyers fans regarding the possible lineups. One involves two powerful scoring lines, a defensive line, and an energy line. The second would feature three balanced lines and that same energy line. The problem is that in each case, one key element is missing.
To field the two hot lines, we're stacked and set, with Gagne, Briere, Hartnell, Giroux, Carter, and Richards (in whatever combination you like). And the energy line is easily stocked with players like Asham, Cote, Powe, Ross, Carcillo, etc. But the defensive line, that remains a problem. You have (now) Laperriere, who can play center or wing but is likely a better wing. You could use Powe - for a young guy, he plays very responsible hockey. You could even make the argument that Carcillo could be a disruptive force against the other teams players on such a line. What is missing is really that shutdown center, someone to win draws and maintain puck possession ... which is really the epitome of 'defensive' play, puck possession. There are several names available for such a player: Zigomanis, Malhotra, and others. But the Flyers need to maintain some wiggle room in the cap, as well as sign some significant players to contract extensions, so a shortened or cheap contract is key. The younger defensive centers are rare, so they will want longer contracts for sure. The older ones have realized potential, and therefore want more money. If Holmgren can run the fine line with someone, kudos to him - but it won't be easy.
The same contract restrictions affect signing a right wing as well. This would be necessary if the Flyers went with the line formula of Talented Winger, Great Center, Banging Winger. Then the top three lines would be populated with Carter, Richards, and Briere at center, and Gagne, Hartnell, and Giroux playing wing. The 'energy' guy, to muck in the corners, could be Laperriere or Powe but neither of them really fill the "power forward" role very well. You need at least one big right winger to play in front of the net, especially on the power play. This becomes key since you don't have the talent on the top two lines to simply overwhelm opponents, so you need more balanced scoring and more hard-work goals. Again, there are players available in the mold - Bertuzzi, Ruutu, Armstrong, and others - but can any be signed with the available resources and situation?
If Holmgren is done with the free agent market, the roster could be filled with younger call-ups. A LOT will depend on training camp, I think - and lucky for Holmgren, the rookies and AHL guys begin practices this week. He'll be able to see if Maroon, JVR, or Laliberte are ready for the big stage. Maybe Nodl finally realizes that he needs more snarl in his game. Maybe Kalinski ate raw meat all summer and filled out that frame some. Or maybe Ryan Dingle is better than we know, and Homie has a trick up his sleeve. Time will certainly tell ... but until then what are your best guesses???
Oh, and where can I buy a #20 jersey? Any leads yet? :)