Holmgren laughs off Nash rumor

Holmgren said he “knew nothing” when asked about a rumor about Rick Nash vetoing a trade to the Flyers. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

At the beginning of one of the most crucial weeks of the offseason, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren held a press conference on Monday to discuss the team’s draft and free agency plans.

Here’s a few quick hits from Monday’s press conference:

--Holmgren laughed and said he “knew nothing” when asked about a rumor circulating over the weekend about Columbus star Rick Nash vetoing a trade to the Flyers. Nash's name has been linked the Flyers, Rangers, Sharks, Bruins and even Maple Leafs in recent weeks. He's expected to be dealt before July 1 rolls around.

--Holmgren said it would be unlikely that the Flyers would trade for the rights of any potential free agents before the July 1 free agency season opens.

“Looking back, I’m not sure if we waited that we could’ve gotten the player for the same price,” Holmgren said, possibly referring to trading for Ilya Bryzgalov last June before handing him a 9-year, $51 million deal with virtually no competition.

That seemed to include Nashville’s Ryan Suter and New Jersey’s Zach Parise, who both are likely to test the waters on July 1.

--When asked, Holmgren said generally the Flyers would be “as proactive” as they have been in past summers to improve their team. That says something, considering their vast makeover last June 23 by trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.

“When July 1 comes, we’ll see what’s out there,” Holmgren said. “And then we’ll take a peek. I like our team. We’ve had lots of conversations about trying to improve our team. We’ll do what it takes.”

--Holmgren said he believed James van Riemsdyk would be able to play next week if the Flyers were to have a game. After back and forth discussion, van Riemsdyk decided to not undergo surgery on his hip, and Holmgren said the injury did not cause him to miss a single game last season.

What went untold is that van Riemsdyk’s skating - a huge part of his game - was certainly hampered by the cam impingement in his right hip that we first reported on Dec. 27.

As far as the constant rumors swirling around ‘JVR’, Holmgren said the 23-year-old should learn to “take it as a compliment” that teams are talking about him.

Holmgren reiterated his confidence in van Riemsdyk’s development, saying that he has a “bright future” in the NHL before adding that James “is our player right now.”

The “right now” phrase in that statement is what threw off this reporter.

--The Flyers are unable to complete a deal with any of their free agents - including defenseman Matt Carle and Jaromir Jagr - before July 1 because of salary cap space but Holmgren said he is “fairly confident” he can hammer out a deal to keep Carle.

Holmgren reiterated his interest in Jagr, though TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Monday that Jagr will likely test free agency. Holmgren said he has not spoken to Jagr’s camp since May and they agreed to speak again before July 1. The Flyers could always agree to a deal in principal, regardless of tagging space issues, to bring either player back.

--Regarding a possible contract amnesty in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Holmgren said he would be “all for it,” but that he had never heard of such a proposal. One contract amnesty has long been rumored, which would absolve a team of a contract albatross on the salary cap while still being financially obligated to the player, who would then become a free agent.

--Holmgren said defenseman Chris Pronger’s status remains the same. He said Pronger is living a “fairly normal” life off the ice, back in the St. Louis area, but that he is still experiencing headaches. Holmgren remains hopeful Pronger can return next season.

Interestingly, Holmgren said Pronger sat in on the team’s scouting meetings to get a glimpse into a possible front office role.

In a “perfect world,” Holmgren said the Flyers would try to improve their defense with Pronger’s status up in the air. He said Kimmo Timonen’s offseason surgery went well and Timonen is “doing great.” Either way, the Flyers would have “big shoes to fill” without Pronger since Holmgren is not sure if “another Pronger is out there.”

--To this point, Holmgren said he has not had one conversation about potentially moving up in Friday’s Draft.

--While a few mock drafts have the Flyers restocking their prospect cupboard with perhaps a goaltender in the first round, Holmgren said he would remain committed to the current system of taking the best player available. He cited prospects Niko Hovinen and Cal Heeter as reasons for the Flyers being relatively healthy in the farm’s goaltending position.

--The Flyers made qualifying offers to “6 or 7” restricted free agents in order to retain their rights, including Jakub Voracek and Marc-Andre Bourdon. Holmgren said he has not conversed with Voracek's agent, former Flyer Petr Svoboda, about a new deal yet.

--The Flyers have 47 contracts committed to the 50-contract limit for next season. They still need to re-sign both Voracek and Bourdon, which would leave them just one new contract to add, unless they decide to trade a player or two.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers