Timonen Signing an Unavoidable Necessity
The Philadelphia Flyers announced that they extended Kimmo Timonen's contract by one year at a cap hit of $6 million. Many may not be happy about it, but the Flyers had to do it. It's really as simple as that.
What else were they going to do? If they lost Timonen, arguably their best defenseman and most capable puck mover, where would this team be in the standings? They most certainly would not be a playoff team.
The roster only shows one other capable puck moving defenseman in Braydon Coburn.
The cap hit is a tough one to bear for an aging and declining defenseman with a wonky back injury that flares up at will. The problem remains that Timonen is one of the best defensemen that remained out on the market, and he would command that kind of salary whether or not he made it to the open market in the summer.
The argument of what a player is worth is highly subjective, and at times, rather asinine. However, agents care about compensation, and here are some numbers of comparable defensemen and their salaries.
MATT CARLE (TB): Scored 38 pts in 2011-12, a cap hit of $5.5 million.
DUNCAN KEITH (CHI): Scored 40 pts in 2011-12, a cap hit of $5.5 million.
BRENT SEABROOK (CHI): Scored 34 pts in 2011-12, a cap hit of $5.8 million.
ERIK KARLSSON (OTT): Scored 78 pts in 2011-12, a cap hit of $6.5 million.
ZDENO CHARA (BOS): Scored 52 pts in 2011-12, a cap hit of $6.9 million.
RYAN SUTER (MIN): Scored 46 pts in 2011-12, a cap hit of $7.5 million.
SHEA WEBER (NSH): Scored 49 pts in 2011-12, a cap hit of $7.8 million.
These defensemen all fall into the puck moving, scoring defense category that play over 25 minutes nightly. Some play more physically, some play more offensively, but the market demands around $5.5 to $6.5 million for this brand of defensemen.
Timonen has scored between 37-55 points a season in his tenure as a Flyer; thus, he falls in this particular target market.
Enough about the numbers, the question remains, why?
GM Paul Holmgren gloriously swung and missed at Shea Weber, signing him to a massive offer sheet that should have been worth enough to deter cash-strapped Nashville from retaining him and matching the offer sheet. The Predators could not lose both Weber and Suter in the same summer, so they had no choice but to match it.
In the process of waiting for the process to move along on Weber, Matt Carle signed with Tampa Bay for a long term stint (and for a massive amount of cash), Suter signed in Minnesota (for a large sum of money as well).
Holmgren wanted to make the big splash because he knew he needed a prime veteran presence to lead the way once Timonen's contract expired, and once Jaromir Jagr eventually departed for Dallas. Once that didn't happen, that spelled trouble for the Flyers.
Taking a look at the free agent forecast this summer, it's cloudy with a chance of nothing spectacular. Some of the names available include Ron Hainsey, Sergei Gonchar, Mark Streit, Marek Zidlicky, Roman Hamrlik, Ian White, Steve Eminger...
...see where I'm going here? They would merely be subpar stopgaps like the Flyers defense is stacked with currently. Timonen was the clear choice to keep around. And from the sound of it, the Flyers only have one year left until Timonen finally calls it quits.
A wonderful piece by Matt Bernot illustrates how the Flyers are in massive trouble once Timonen retires. They haven't drafted a good defenseman in decades, and they gave up on the ones they tried to develop.
Remember when Joni Pitkanen was the shining hope of the Flyers blue line? Yeah, me neither. Pitkanen remains a pretty crucial part of the plan in Carolina.
Luca Sbisa got shipped to Anaheim in the draft day deal for Chris Pronger. The young Swiss defenseman has panned out pretty well in Orange County.
When it all shakes out, Holmgren had no choice but to rely on the resources in front of him. Timonen became the clear choice. Erik Gustafsson can't produce at the NHL level like Timonen does just yet. Marc-Andre Bourdon looks like an injury-riddled bust, and Kevin Marshall found himself in Hershey, swapped for a subpar forward in Matt Ford.
The Flyers can't hope and pray. They need results. They have one year to figure out what to do about the defense, or else it might get ugly on the blue line in Philadelphia. Like it or not, Kimmo Timonen is here to stay, raking in the $6 million to be the Flyers' clear-cut number one defenseman for one more year.
Past that point? Do you trust Braydon Coburn, Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann, Bruno Gervais and Andrej Meszaros to be your defense corps? The Flyers will need a big, all-around defensive piece to seal the deal. Timonen will be that piece for one more year.
Time's yours, Paul, and it's ticking quickly. What's the next move?