The Flyers are about $2.2 million under the cap, so they have some room to add a rather inexpensive free agent.
Keep in mind that GM Paul Holmgren wants to leave himself a decent cap cushion _ say, $500,000 or so _ so he doesn't have the same cap problems that played a major role in losing home-ice advantage in last season's playoffs. That means the Flyers only have about $1.7 million to spend, tops.
That said, there are free agents available that are worth a look, including Mike Grier, a good penalty killer who scored 10 goals for San Jose last season. The 6-foot-1, 227-pounder made $1.7 million last year. Free-agent center Radek Bonk is also available and would help with faceoffs. Bonk has four 20-goal seasons on his resume.
Peter Sykora, who scored 25 goals for Pittsburgh last year, is also unsigned, but he would have to take a big pay cut for the Flyers to fit him under the cap. Sykora made $2.5 million last season. Todd Bertuzzi, who scored 15 goals with Calgary last year, is also unsigned.
If they don't add a free agent, the Flyers will dip into their farm system for a missing piece.
In case you missed it, former Flyer backup goalie Antero Niittymaki signed last week with Tampa Bay for $600,000.
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Left winger James van Riemsdyk, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, hopes to earn a spot with the Flyers in training camp this September. Rick O'Brien has an update on van Riemsdyk in Monday's Inquirer.
The Flyers' public-relations staff put together quotes from their six 2009 draft selections who are taking part in the Prospect Camp at the Skate Zone in Vorohees. They are among 34 players in camp.
Adam Morrison, goalie:
“I’ve enjoyed myself all week. It’s been a lot of work. You know it really kind of brings you down to earth on how hard these guys work to get here, so it’s been a lot of fun, but I definitely have to earn my stripes before I am going to be here.”
“Everybody’s got a shot, it’s not just one or two guys that can fire the puck. Every single guy out there can pick corners and do it at a hundred miles an hour, so I think that’s the biggest difference. The speed obviously – guys are faster, stronger, but you pick up on that after the first day.”
Dave Labrecque, center:
“Since the beginning it was pretty fun. Its tough, but you have to be in shape if you want to be a part of the Flyers, and you’re now in the NHL, so you have to be ready.”
Q: Biggest difference coming from junior to an NHL camp…
“I think it’s the physical part. Everybody is bigger, they’re more in shape. They’re stronger, so when you have to go pick up the puck in the corner you have to be more ready than in junior.”
Nicola Riopel, goalie:
“My first impression was, just feeling the ice – it was a pretty hard, long camp, we’re kind of getting tired a little, but you just have to keep going. They have a lot of talent in this room. A lot of good guys, so I made some friends and it was a really good week for me.”
“The biggest part to work on is that the guys are more talented. The quickness, the speed of the shot, the speed of the play, they’re smarter, they have more patience and that’s the biggest difference for me. I’m going to have to work on my patience and put my eyes always on the puck.”
Oliver Lauridsen, defenseman:
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a lot of new things to get used to, but it’s been hard work. It’s almost over; we only have a few things left. Most of our games are on the big sheet [of ice] and this of course is a small sheet, it makes a big difference. The physical game is a lot different. The physical presence of all the players out there – you can feel you’re playing with bigger and stronger kids here.”
Eric Wellwood, left wing:
“It’s tough. I get to see what it’s like to be an NHL player. How much work it’s going to be and I definitely have to do a lot of work to get to where I want to be.”
“The guys are much faster; I don’t mean skating faster, but they think faster and they’re much more sharp and I think I have to use my head a lot more quicker and be able to stay up with the pack.”
Simon Bertilsson, defenseman:
“It went very well. It’s a bigger ice [surface] over in Sweden so you have to go faster here and there is much more hitting over here.”
Q: One aspect you learned from camp…
“The defense - I learned to hit the tape and make a good pass, good first pass and take the puck up through the zone.”
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Looking for a fun, quick-read beach book for the summer? Try Flyer'd Up, written by Brian Startare, with a foreword by Jim Jackson.
It's full of stories, trivia and behind-the-scene anecdotes. I especially liked the "What if...." section that looks at how things might have turned out if a certain development didn't take place. For instance: What if the Eric Lindros trade with Quebec had never happened? And: What if Bobby Orr hadn't been called for a late penalty in Game 6 of the Stanely Cup Finals against the Flyers in 1974? And a lot of others.