Jagr Signs & Flyers Free Agency Moves
In another one of those, ‘never would have guessed’ moves, the Philadelphia Flyers signed forward Jaromir Jagr in his return from the KHL on Friday. The Jagr sweepstakes seemed to be between Detroit, Pittsburgh and Montreal until late Thursday night when it was announce that the Flyers had some interest. This offseason has been stocked full of decisions that significantly changed the look of the roster that will take the ice at Wells Fargo Center this year, and this move was no different.
Obviously, Jagr is not the Jagr of old, and there’s something to be said for that. But on a one year deal for $3.3 million, the Flyers got themselves a seasoned veteran who can help make up for the loss of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Ville Leino’s goal contributions. He’s played well in the recent world competition and in the past three seasons in the KHL. While the price tag is a bit high, the salary cap floor enables teams like the Florida Panthers to pay Scottie Upshall $3.5 million, which makes the pay scale a troubling issue for teams like Philadelphia that are near the cap ceiling. Ville Leino, who the Flyers decided against re-signing, would have cost them a much prettier penny than Jagr. Now with the former superstar on the roster with a decent cap-hit, the Flyers still have some money available.
The most compelling part of the ‘Jagr Watch’ and subsequent signing is the effect it will have on the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia rivalry. Always tooth-and-nail affairs, there will be another subplot to the two teams’ renewing of acquaintances this season. It seemed like Jagr to Pittsburgh was a foregone conclusion around 24 hours before the Flyers ended up inking the former Penguins great. The agreement will surely bring more animosity and intrigue to what was already one of the NHL’s great rivalries.
How many people would have said that the Flyers 2011-12 roster would contain Jagr but not Richards and Carter? The zany offseason in Philadelphia continues to bewilder any and all prognosticators.
Philadelphia also took care of one of the pieces acquired in the Carter trade. They signed Jakub Voracek to a one- year deal worth $.2.5 million. It’s a good deal for both sides, as Voracek will make a decent paycheck and the Flyers will have a year to see how the former Blue Jackets forward can adjust to his move to Philadelphia. Also worth noting: Voracek and Jagr are both Czechs, which should help both in the locker room.
With a need for a sixth defenseman following the loss of Sean O’Donnell to Chicago, the Flyers signed Andreas Lilja to a one- year contract. The 35–year old blueliner had one goal and six assists last season, with a -15 rating. He played in 52 games for Anaheim after playing just 20 for Detroit the year prior due to injury.
UPDATE: 2:32 PM
Former Penguins center, Max Talbot was signed by the Flyers per their official team Twitter account. Per TSN, Talbot will make $9 million over five seasons. With Talbot joining the team, it will be interesting to see what the possibilites are for rookie center, Brayden Schenn.
In a TV interview with TSN, Talbot said, "It was about the best team in my opinion to go..." He later added, "It wasn't so much about the money...Obviously I believe in what [the Flyers] are doing."
Talbot notched eight goals and 13 assists last season in 82 games.
UPDATE: 4:05 PM
In a move that was much less surprising than some of the others the Flyers pulled the trigger on recently, Kris Versteeg was traded to the Florida Panthers. In return, the Flyers received a second and third round draft pick. Florida general manager Dale Tallon had ties to Versteeg from their days in Chicago. The move was most likely made to allow the Flyers to have some space to finish up contract negotiations with forward Wayne Simmonds.
UPDATE: 4:30 PM
LEINO SIGNS IN BUFFALO
The player that helped the Flyers end the Sabres playoff hopes last season is now joining their ranks. Leino signed a six-year deal worth $27 million in Buffalo. Despite his terrific chemistry with Daniel Briere and Scott Hartnell, it became increasingly evident lately that Leino's pricetag would be too high for Philadelphia.
UPDATE: 5:00 PM
IN ON RICHARDS? SIMMONDS NOTE
Althought it seemed like the Flyers were done Friday, apparently they aren't so quick to throw in the towel. Per Darren Dreger of TSN, they are still in on the Brad Richards sweepstakes. As tweeted by Cap Geek, the Flyers could have as much as $8 million in cap space if they put Ian Laperriere on the LTIR (likely to happen) and keep Schenn in the AHL to begin the season (with Richards, they wouldn't need him in the NHL). It's an interesting prospect to say the least, but it seems improbable that the Flyers would have enough space to compete with some teams that have been clearing space for a run at Richards. Unless they made another move, something that no one would be shocked to see at this point.
Also, Simmonds has yet to be signed by the Flyers. But, judging by his inclusion in an introductory press conference with Holmgren, Schenn and Voracek this week, it would be strange if he wasn't signed. With developments in the Jagr saga and Richards contest coming after that press conference, it's more than possible.
Anything can happen at this point. What a day.