Boucher, Laperriere join Flyers; Knuble signs with Caps

   The Flyers made a quick strike in the free-agent market Wednesday, signing goalie Brian Boucher and feisty right winger Ian "Lappy" Laperriere.

    Boucher's two-year deal is believed to be for $1.85 million, a cap hit of $925,000 per season.

    Boucher, 32, was the Flyers' No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft. He was superb as a backup in San Jose last season, going 12-6-3 with a 2.18 GAA and a .917 save percentage.

    He's the perfect fit as the backup to unpredictable Ray Emery.

    Laperriere, 35, signed a three-year contract for a reported $3.5 million ($1.17 million per season); he collected seven goals, 12 assists and 163 penalty minutes with Colorado last season.

    The Flyers, who would like to add a center who is adept at winning faceoffs, are about $2.4 million under the cap.

    The Flyers will find it difficult to replace the combined 52 goals scored last season by Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul.

    General manager Paul Holmgren said the Flyers are trying to add another forward to make up for the offensive losses.

   At this point, the Flyers are much strong defensively than last season, but the offense has taken a hit. Holmgren is hopeful that having Danny Briere (injured most of last year) and Claude Giroux (who began last year with the Phantoms) for a full season will dull the losses of Knuble and Lupul.

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   It's official: Knuble's four-year career as a Flyer is over.

   The right winger signed a two-year deal with the Washington Capitals Wednesday for a reported $5.6 million.

  Knuble, who will turn 37 on Saturday, became an unrestricted free agent at noon Wednesday. The Flyers at first were offering a one-year deal filled with incentives, but Holmgren said last night they had later offered Knuble a two-year contract.

   Last season, Knuble made $2.8 million and scored 27 goals. His presence on the power play _ and in front of the net _ will be severely missed, but the cap-strapped Flyers could not match the Caps' offer.

    In the first four hours of the free-agency period, 21 players had signed, including former Flyer Donald "Broadway" Brashear (Rangers).

     The Flyers had been high on Florida goalie Craig Anderson, but he signed with Colorado.