Jan 18, 2011, 5:30 PM EDT
The Philadelphia Flyers announced the signing of a high profile figure today, but the good news is that it won’t have an impact on the team’s paper-thin salary cap. Well, not directly, at least.
That’s because the Flyers signed a deal with someone who doesn’t skate with the team, as they handed general manager Paul Holmgren a three-year extension reportedly worth $4.5 million.
While I look at the disastrous 2006-07 season that resulted in the dismissal of Bobby Clarke and Ken Hitchcock as a bit of an aberration akin to the San Antonio Spurs being awful long enough to draft Tim Duncan, it’s undeniable that Holmgren is responsible for the club’s impressive makeover.
His tenure began by raiding some of the Nashville Predators’ best talents, as he engineered trades to bring in important defenseman Kimmo Timonen and useful pest/scorer Scott Hartnell. He was in charge when the team drafted James van Riemsdyk. Holmgren made savvy pickups like a waiver claim on Michael Leighton last season, the signing of Sergei Bobrovsky and a crafty trade to land playoff standout Ville Leino. Perhaps his most important long-term moves might be the cap-friendly contracts he negotiated with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, though.
Of course, there’s also the dramatic improvement the team made once Holmgren decided to hire Peter Laviolette last season to boot.
Even some of his “biggest missteps” such as giving Danny Briere a lengthy, expensive deal and flubbing on the 35+ rule with Chris Pronger have worked out pretty well. Maybe those contracts will devolve into albatrosses later on, but Briere was the leading scorer of the 2010 playoffs while Pronger was a huge difference maker as the team struggled with goalie injuries. It’s hard to call either move bone-headed now.
The team may always have questions in net, although that situation is greatly improved (and besides, skimping on goaltending has been their M.O. for years, with mostly solid results).
Beyond that flippant goalie criticism, the only consistent problem facing the Holmgren years has been getting under the salary cap. Yet when you look at other contenders in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Vancouver, it’s clear that most top teams acknowledge that’s just the price of doing business.
Considering his impressive track record so far, the Flyers are wise to allow Holmgren to manage their business going forward.
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