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Kimmo Timonen's absence 'long-term,' so who should Flyers target?

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Kimmo Timonen is out long-term and the Flyers aren't going to give his job to a prospect. So which free agents are left to go after?

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The Flyers are treating Kimmo Timonen's blood clots as a "long-term" issue, which is scary news for No. 44's NHL career. The 39 year old was preparing for what we all believed would be his last NHL season, and this news of his blood clots casts serious doubts on whether or not he'll play this season or for the Flyers again.

It "adjusts the clubs approach." That could mean a million different things, but this naturally leads us to believe that it changes Ron Hextall's tune regarding some of the young defensive prospects in the organization -- namely Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin.

He's previously said that he doesn't want to rush the development of these guys, but with Kimmo out ... oh, wait, what's that? Nothing's changing with regards to that?

Well okay then. So what veteran players are available? Let's keep in mind that nobody on the market will replace Timonen as the team's No. 1 defenseman. Somebody on the team would have to take that role -- might it be Andrew MacDonald? -- while a new player would be slotted in to take on whatever hole is left.

Michael Del Zotto

It's weird calling MDZ a veteran considering he's just 24 years old, but he's certainly a veteran option compared to those Flyers prospects. You know him as a once-promising defenseman from the New York Rangers, and after being traded to Nashville last season, he's now on the free agent market, where nobody has come calling. It's August and it's getting late, which means Del Zotto would be dirt cheap as a low-risk, high-reward option on defense.

Here's the basic rundown on him from Adam Gretz at SBNation.com:

After diminishing production and constant gaffes in the defensive zone, the Rangers finally gave up on him in the middle of last season and dealt him to Nashville for Kevin Klein. The Preds saw more than they needed to see in his 25 games with the team and allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent. Like a lot of other players available at this time of year, it would be nothing more than a cheap roll of the dice, but for a team that needs a young, offensive defenseman it might be worth taking just to see if there is still something there.

MDZ had a rough year last season and just didn't fit in with the Predators after the trade. He was a third-pairing defenseman at best in Nashville, and while he fit in the same with the Rangers at even strength, he at least had a power play role there. He's just two years removed from being a second-pairing defenseman in New York, though, and his rookie season with the Rangers was quite good.

He's fallen off since, as the stats show, and there's no telling if he'll ever get back his early career form or if he'll ever become anything more than a third pairing depth defenseman in the NHL, but he could be a really cheap bet.

Sami Salo

He's 40 in September, but much like Timonen did this past summer before he signed a one-year contract with the Flyers, Sami Salo still wants to play. That's not to say Salo is anything of Timonen's caliber at this point in his career, but his possession numbers were solid last year and he played an average of 18:11 last season with the Lightning.

He's versatile and can play at evens or on either special teams unit, and he's known for having a cannon of a shot.

Again, since he's likely out of work completely if he doesn't sign in the next month, he could be had for cheap. He made $3.75 million against the salary cap on his last contract. He might be the safest option, but again ... he's 40.

Raphael Diaz

Diaz played for three teams last year: the Rangers, Canadiens and Canucks, ultimately playing in 63 regular season games in total and average 17:59 in ice time on the season. Much of that time was on the third unit with those three teams. He's a less attractive option than Salo based off of the raw numbers, but he's also much younger at age 28.

He's not much of a scorer at at all, but then again you're not really going to find a potent offensive defenseman still on the market in August. Not one without his flaws like Del Zotto, at least.

Then there's this take from right after his departure from Montreal:

Raphael Diaz may go down as the most unfairly maligned defenseman in Montreal this decade, because fans and media have no idea how to quantify defensive contribution.

...

Every single statistic that can be found will tell you that for the last two years, Raphael Diaz has been the 4th best defenseman the Canadiens have had at their disposal. Better than Alexei Emelin, and so much better than Murray that they belong in different leagues.

Could definitely be worth a look one-year contract, especially if what you just read is accurate. He's not going to demand a lot of money considering he only made $1.225 million last year ... and again, like everybody else on this list, it's August and there just aren't many teams calling.

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Anybody else you see who the Flyers might or should be interested in? Here's the full list of free agent defensemen from CapGeek. Let's talk in the comments.