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What Flyers Wanted in Free-Agent Class



Garnet Hathaway (AP Photo)
Garnet Hathaway (AP Photo)

The Philadelphia Flyers took a dip in the free-agent pool this summer. They didn’t make a big splash but they added what they believe are some solid players.

When you’re a contender — or think you are — teams use free agency to tweak or fill a need. When you’re a high-profile free agent you probably automatically consider a feeler from a contending team.

The Philadelphia Flyers aren’t contenders. They need help on defense and at forward. They’re hoping some of their young players who showed growth last season continue on that trajectory.

General manager Daniel Briere joked at the beginning of free agency that he was tempted to kick the tires on some the big-time free agents but the time wasn’t right for the Flyers.

There are free agents still available this offseason, although the market obviously has cooled. The Flyers’ free-agent class so far this offseason is: Marc Staal, Ryan Poehling, Garnet Hathaway, Rhett Gardner and Victor Mete. Probably a solid forward or two, plus a stabilizing Staal on defense.

How It Worked

Flyers president of hockey operations Keith Jones told Philly Hockey Now how he worked with Briere and coach John Tortorella when assessing possible free agents.

“Everyone was working together,” Jones said at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees.

“It takes a lot but I think the collaboration part does matter, whether it’s Danny obviously taking the majority of the calls and patiently waiting for certain players to come back. Some had high demands, some had longer-term demands. 

“And we had an idea what we needed and we weren’t going to go past that. We wanted players on short-term contracts and we wanted players that provided us with a clear vision on what type of role they would have on our team.

“And we accomplished that on a team that is looking with one eye to the future.”

Happy With Results 

“This was a great offseason for us because I really like the players that we’ve added,” Jones said.

“Poehling has speed, he’s an excellent penalty-killer. He is a good offensive player that has more and I look forward to seeing that.

“Hathaway is consistent and difficult. He was always a problem playing against us. We’re really happy to have him and welcome him aboard.

“And for Marc Staal, it was just a veteran defenseman that I watched very closely last year during the Stanley Cup playoffs. No one was closer than I was beside on the bench [while broadcasting for TNT].

“And watching him on the ice and what he did for Brandon Montour in Florida was outstanding. He has a lot left in the tank, what was most impressive to me.

“And he has a lot of leadership skills and has the benefit of playing for Torts previously and was really open to coming back in here and playing for him again. He’s another character player.

“You look through the list and after watching what he did for Florida last year, clearly he was a very important player for them. So you would [expect] teams in their evolution in getting closer in their eyes to winning a Stanley Cup that that would have been a player they would have been after.

“They were after him but he wanted to stay closer to his family [in Connecticut] and we benefited from that.”

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