LOS ANGELES — Today’s 2010 Entry Level NHL Draft started pretty quietly for the Flyers. Not much news seemed to be coming out of Southern California two weeks after the team lost the Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks. But as day one of the draft winded down the Flyers finnally made a move that got people back east talking.
One of the Flyers’ newest pieces and someone who seemed to be a key component to strengthening this year’s defensive core was sent packing just days after arriving in Philadelphia. The good news for Dan Hamhuis is that he isn’t going too far.
The Flyers recently traded young defenseman Ryan Paren for the rights to Nashville Predator and the soon-to-be-free agent Hamhuis. Originally excited to join a team with such a strong defensive mindset, Hamhuis was ultimately concerned about being used as a 5th defenseman. Because of this, the staff took what they could get and handed the rights to rival Pittsburgh Penguins for a third round pick in the draft.
Other issues that kept Hamhuis and the organization from bridging the gap were financial in nature. His previous contract, dating back to 2006, offered $2 million a year. In talks with the Flyers, Hamhuis was looking for closer to $5 million. While the loss of a quality, developing player like Parent is a shame, those figures would not be worth the ice time and ability that Hamhuis would bring to the table as a third pairing defender. In another city with a weaker squad, he could easily be a top line player, and he knows it.
In other news, as the opening round of the NHL draft went along and all eyes were on the incoming rookies, the Philadelphia Flyers organization made strides to securing a quality goaltender to backstop them during another potential Stanley Cup season. The goaltender they were seeking is none other than Evgeni Nabokov, the veteran goaltender recently released from the San Jose Sharks. Nearing the ripe old age of 35, with his roughly $5.3 million at its end, Nabokov may end up signing a one year deal for less, but with potential performance-related bonuses.
Should these talks come to anything, the Flyers may have lost a level of depth at defense, but a significant improvement in goaltending could make that irrelevant.
Instead of reducing the scoring chances and hoping a goalie can survive, they may leave him more vulnerable knowing that he is fully capable. Many experts agree that to forge a championship team, you must put your best in net and build from there. While last year’s Finals matchup of an untested rookie against a mid season waiver wire pickup is evidence against that theory, time has proven it to be true. For the first time in years, the Flyers may finally take that advice to heart instead of cutting corners with bargain goaltenders and hoping for the best.