Give Flyers GM Paul Holmgren credit for striking quickly and signing bruising defenseman Nick Grossmann to a multi-year deal on Friday, a move that could impact whether they re-sign Matt Carle in the off-season.
Carle can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Carle is a much better offensive player than Grossmann, but with Chris Pronger’s career possibly over, the Flyers need a crease clearer.
Grossmann fits that description perfectly, which is why the Flyers signed him to a four-year deal worth a reported $14 million.
It’s no coincidence that goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s revival _ he was named the NHL’s player of the month in March _ started at around the same time the Flyers acquired Grossmann.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Grossmann, who had been a prospective free agent, has missed the last two games with a knee injury, but he is expected to return to the lineup at the start of next week’s playoffs.
Grossmann, 27, was acquired from Dallas on Feb. 16 for a second-round draft pick this year and a third-rounder in 2013. In 22 games with the Flyers, he has six assists and is plus-5.
Including his time in Dallas, Grossmann has 164 hits and 152 blocked shots this season. Those numbers would rank third and second, respectively, on the Flyers.
Carle leads the Flyers with 158 blocks, and Scott Hartnell tops the club with 184 hits, followed by Zac Rinaldo with 170.
Grossmann had a $1.625 cap hit this season, and he received a raise that pays him $3.5 million per year.
Carle, 27, who has struggled recently, has a $3.4 million cap hit. He is a valuable part of the Flyers, but they may not be able to fit him under the cap if they re-sign Jaromir Jagr, Jakub Voracek and Marc-Andre Bourdon. (From here, it seems unlikely the Flyers will be able to make a pitch for UFA Ryan Suter, who will likely remain in Nashville.)
By signing, Grossmann, the Flyers may bypass on signing UFAs Carle and Pavel Kubina. If they don’t resign them _ and Pronger doesn’t return _ here is how the top six may look next season:
- Braydon Coburn and Grossmann.
- Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros.
- Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson.
(Brandon Manning and Andreas Lilja also figure to battle for spots on the third pairing.)
* * *
It looks like the Penguins plan to get physical Saturday against the visiting Flyers. Pittsburgh recalled enforcer Steve MacIntyre from the minors just in time for the grude match.
MacIntyre, 31, has appeared in 11 NHL games this season. The 6-5, 250-pound forward has appeared in 89 career NHL games with Edmonton, Florida and Pittsburgh, notching four points and 161 penalty minutes.
Keep an eye on him and the Flyers' Jody Shelley in Saturday's 4 p.m. matchup.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.