Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Flyers Could Already Line-Up

Barring any major explosion in regards to their line-up, the Flyers only have a couple Restricted Free Agents to sign and they could have the puck drop in a week or two. Do we really think that's the case though? Probably not. Here's a look at what the Flyers would look like with a couple Restricted Free Agents yet to be signed (signified by the *).

Mike Knuble R.J. Umberger Simon Gagne
Scott Hartnell Mike Richards Jeff Carter
Sami Kapanen Scottie Upshall Geoff Sanderson
Dimitri Afanasenkov* Stefan Ruzicka Ben Eager

Kimmo Timonen Joni Pitkanen*
Derian Hatcher Lasse Kukkonen
Randy Jones Alexandre Picard

Martin Biron
Antero Niitymaki

Looking over this apparent squad, there is a couple of things worth noting: 1) With the arrival of Kimmo Timonen yesterday, the rumours will be ramped up even more that the Flyers are going to shop Joni Pitkanen. The young Finnish defenseman will look good most anywhere in the league and could very well come at a reasonable price. 2) This squad as of right now is roughly going to cost $38 million (plus filling the two restricted free agent voids). If the Flyers, who have been a cap hitting team before, choose to push the limits this season, look for them to fill the number one centre role with a high-priced free-agent. Chris Drury, Daniel Briere and Michael Nylander could very well get top dollar from a team like Philly.

With the goaltending issue of the past couple seasons (seemingly) resolved in Martin Biron, the Flyers will be able to build from the back out this season. The acquistion of Timonen and signing him long-term, shows the rest of the team that there is a foundation behind them and confidence will grow in the offensive zone. The Flyers may contend for a playoff spot this season and make for another interesting race for that 8th spot in 2008.

What impact does this have on your hockey pool picks? Timonen will make the Flyers better on the power play, there's no question of that. Saying that Gagne could improve to where he was in 2007, finishing 33rd in pool scoring (or a 2nd round draft pick). Mike Knuble will need to play more than 64 games next season to improve his numbers and Scott Hartnell should get a boost with increased play in Philadelphia.

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