Flyers Trade Hamhuis' Rights, Pursuing Nabokov

When the Flyers traded Ryan Parent for future unrestricted free agent Dan Hamhuis last week, they thought they had found a top defenseman who would play a five position.

Late Friday night, the club traded Hamhuis’ rights to Atlantic Division rival Pittsburgh for a third-round pick next year. Why? Because negotiations had stalled – not over money or length (the Flyers would have given him at least $4 million a year on a four-year deal), but over something more tangible: playing time and position.

Another reason the Flyers were willing to do the deal with Pittsburgh as one GM said was because their only other offer for Hamhuis was a fifth-round selection and the Penguins were willing to give up a much higher pick.

Hamhuis wanted to be a confirmed No. 3 defenseman ahead of Braydon Coburn or Matt Carle. He wanted more minutes than he felt he could get playing as a No. 5. And he seemed determined not to be labeled a No. 5 as a Flyer after being thought of as a No. 3 in Nashville.

“We couldn’t come to an agreement,” Holmgren said. “He’s a great all-around defenseman and he would have helped us. … We had a lot of conversations with Dan but we just couldn’t agree.”

Earlier in the day, the Flyers and Hamhuis’ agent, Wade Arnott, both confirmed talks had stalled. Flyer sources said talks would continue next week and Arnott believed that, as well.

Pittsburgh, however, had been hoping to get a crack at Hamhuis somehow.

Holmgren and Penguins’ GM Ray Shero met four times during the draft about Hamhuis’ rights. The Flyers were hoping Shero would offer his 20th pick but that would have required a larger deal that neither team was prepared to embark upon.

If Hamhuis signs, the Penguins are that much better and they already have a jump on the Flyers because they’ve won a Stanley Cup in the last two years and don’t figure to drop off.

Holmgren said 3-4 teams had interest in Hamhuis.

“We’ll focus on continuing to try and get better,” Holmgren said.

Which could involve the acquisition of the rights to a goaltender.

In addition to dealing the rights to Hamhuis, Holmgren attempted to trade for the rights to San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov. It didn’t happen, but the Flyers and one other NHL club are in the hunt.

“I’m not going to get into what I’m talking about with anyone,” Holmgren said when asked about his conversation with Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson. Talks are expected to continue through the draft and perhaps beyond.

Minutes later, Wilson met with reporters and confirmed two clubs want Nabokov’s rights, but there are some complicated issues to get resolved.