Are the Flyers going to stun the hockey world again and make some major moves this June?
“I like our team,” general manager Paul Holmgren said during a news conference at the Flyers’ practice facility in Voorhees on Monday.
Holmgren said the same thing last year before trading the faces of the franchise, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, in separate stunning deals in June.
This year, it’s easier to believe Holmgren when he hints that wholesale changes won’t be made in the days leading up to Friday’s first round of the NHL draft.
For one, he now is committed to a goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov.
For another, the Flyers _ thanks in large part to the Richards and Carter trades _ now have a good mix of quality youngsters and veterans.
“I think our younger guys are just going to continue to get better,” said Holmgren, whose team used 12 rookies who combined for 64 goals and 129 points last season. “You can take what you want out of that. I think we are going to continue to look around and see what ‘s going to make us even better, but I like our forward group.”
New Jersey left winger Zach Parise and Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter are marquee free agents who will hit the open market on July 1.
The Flyers will make inquiries about both players, an NHL source said.
“If we can improve our team, we’ll do what it takes,” Holmgren said when asked about free agents in general.
As for their own prospective unrestricted free agents, Holmgren remains optimistic he will be able to sign defenseman Matt Carle; he seemed lukewarm about resigning right winger Jaromir Jagr.
It appears the Flyers will re-sign Carle when the new announced cap _ believed to be around $70.3 million _ goes into effect on July 1. Until then, the current $64.3 million cap is in effect, and the Flyers cannot commit to more than that for next season. The Flyers have about $64 million committed toward next season, so Carle’s deal _ expected to be in the $4.5 million per season neighborhood _ would put them over the limit.
The Flyers, Holmgren said, have made qualifying offers to restricted free agents Jakub Voracek ($2.25 million offer sheet) and Marc-Andre Bourdon ($708,750 offer sheet), thus retaining negotiating rights. They also made qualifying offers to Tom Sestito ($605,000), Ben Holmstrom ($605,000) and Harry Zolnierczyk ($719,250).
In other matters, Holmgren said captain Chris Pronger, who is in St. Louis with his family, was still having “good days and bad days” and battling headaches. The defenseman missed most of the season with post-concussion symptoms, and his playing future is in jeopardy.
“He’s probably living a fairly normal life, but he has headaches,” Holmgren said. “He’s probably not all that motivated some days.”
Holmgren said Pronger “was doing a lot of stuff for us now; he’s watching video of players, and he came to our scouting meetings.”
Holmgren was asked if Pronger might be able to help in the same manner as Ian Laperriere.
“I’d like him to contribute in a different way,” Holmgren said with a smile.
JVR update. Left winger James van Riemsdyk continues to make progress and will be ready for camp.
The Flyers originally announced Van Riemsdyk would need surgery on his right hip. After more consultations with doctors, the Flyers said the surgery wasn’t necessary.
Van Riemsdyk’s 2011-12 season included a broken foot, a concussion, a strained oblique and a strained rib.
“We’re just going to move forward and deal with it,” Holmgren said. “I don’t have a crystal ball. ….Obviously, he's got work to do getting over issues, but I think if we had to play next week, he'd be able to play. He’s got the summer to get his strength up and get up to speed.”
Van Riemsdyk has been mentioned in trade rumors since the season ended.
“He should maybe take that as a compliment _ that he keeps hearing his name like that,” Holmgren said. “I like James. I think he has a tremendous future in the league, and he’s one of our most gifted goal scorers _ and he’s 6-foot-3 or 6-4. He’s our player right now.”
Breakaways. Holmgren denied an Internet report that Columbus’ Rick Nash had vetoed a trade to the Flyers. “I don’t know anything about that,” he said……The draft will be held in Pittsburgh Friday and Saturday, and the Flyers’ first pick is in the 20th overall selection. Defenseman Matthew Finn and right winger Thomas Wilson are among the prospects on the Flyers’ radar.
Contact Sam Carchidi @firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BroadStBull.