Feb 7, 2013, 2:06 AM EDT
Of the defensemen currently on the Flyers’ roster, only four
are signed beyond 2014 – and one of those is Chris Pronger. Kurtis Foster and Kimmo
Timonen are unrestricted free agents this summer, while Bruno Gervais and
Andrej Meszaros are up one year later. That leaves Braydon Coburn, Luke Schenn,
and Nik Grossmann as the only blueliners anticipated to stick around long-term.
Turning 38 in March, Timonen is far more likely to retire
than test the market, but it’s beginning to sound like he won’t exercise either
of those options. According to multiple reports, Timonen and the Flyers are
close to agreeing on a one-year extension, which should help the organization
transition into life without the associate captain’s presence.
The one-year deal would pay Timonen $6 million, which is
essentially what the four-time All Star is earning already. Obviously he’s
slowed down some, but you can’t discount what his veteran presence means on the
back end, in particular to an impressionable 23 year old like Schenn.
That could be doubly true if/when Marc Andre-Bourdon and
Erik Gustafsson start seeing minutes in the NHL again. Not only is it
inevitable given the lack of depth at the position – unless you’d like to see
more of Andreas Lilja of course – but once some of the other vets depart in the
upcoming offseason, the front office will be forced to start treating these
kids as more than mere prospects.
And in spite of this “slowing down” we speak of, Kimmo can
still bring it. He led all Philly defensemen in points a season ago, and now
leads all of the club’s skaters in time on ice so far in 2013.
According to Tim Panaccio’s reporting, the feeling inside the front
office is a lockout-shortened season may be giving Timonen’s career a little
extra life that a grueling 82 games might have otherwise finished off. It’s
clear though that what it really does is buy the Flyers a little extra time to
get their ducks in a row, because Timonen obviously can’t play forever.
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