Inside the Flyers: Flyers bolster defense, but offense may need help

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In essence, both teams are hoping a change of scenery helps the players blossom into game-changers.

And when you draft a player second overall (van Riemsdyk in 2007) and fifth overall (Schenn in 2008), that’s what you expect: a game-changer.

The deal saves the Flyers some money – Schenn has a $3.6 million cap hit for four years, JVR has a $4.25 cap hit for the next six years – and it appears to shut the door on the Flyers’ pursuit of Ryan Suter and Justin Schultz, a pair of soon-to-be free-agent defensemen.

Assuming captain Chris Pronger is unable to return and that the Flyers re-sign Matt Carle, their defense for next season might look like this: Braydon Coburn and Nick Grossmann; Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros; and Carle and Schenn, a stay-at-home, 6-foot-2, 229-pound defender.

That would give the Flyers a formidable (and beefy) unit, with Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson providing solid depth if needed.

But, suddenly, there is a hole in the offense. General manager Paul Holmgren said it is 50/50 that the club will be able to re-sign Jaromir Jagr, who can become a free agent next Sunday. Even if Jagr is re-signed, the Flyers appear to have enough cap space to go after winger Zach Parise, the jewel of this free-agent class.

Problem is, Pittsburgh – whose fans booed so loudly when the Flyers made a draft pick here this weekend that they drowned out the announced selections – have cleared lots of cap room and seem primed to make a strong run at Parise, who will have a long list of suitors.

Landing Parise, then, would be a double-win for the Penguins, who lost out to the Flyers in the Jagr sweepstakes last summer. (Side note: Late-blooming P.A. Parenteau of the Islanders is an intriguing free-agent winger.)

For Pittsburgh, getting Parise in his prime would trump the Flyers’ getting the still-effective Jagr late in his Hall of Fame career.


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