PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers lost out on free-agent stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They flat-out lost Jaromir Jagr and Matt Carle. They traded one of their former cornerstones in James van Riemsdyk and brought back a journeyman goalie in Michael Leighton.
A year after general manager Paul Holmgren pulled off a slew of blockbuster transactions, the Flyers are watching the stars head elsewhere.
And there's no sign another splash is on the horizon to bolster a team coming off a 103-point season.
For a franchise that's never been afraid to make a major deal, the offseason has been an unexpected slow one for the Flyers. The big news this week was the acquisitions of left wing Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Bruno Gervais. Not exactly the kind of moves that earn the bold headlines — or win them a Stanley Cup. The Flyers haven't won the championship since 1975 and it's sure not easy to win one playing in the same division as the Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils and the potent New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
But it doesn't mean the Flyers don't feel good about their roster heading into next season.
"We're very happy with our roster," Flyers president Peter Luukko said. "When it comes to free agency, we're always going to try and make our team better. We entered the derby for those top two free agents, and they made a personal decision to go West. That's fine with us. We would have liked to have signed either one of them, but we'll move on and keep going."
The Flyers did submit offers to Parise and Suter, the top two available free agents on the market, only to see the pair sign with the Minnesota Wild in one of the biggest bonanzas in NHL history. The Wild signed Parise and Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million deals Wednesday, denying a Flyers team looking for a jolt, and needing a dose of offense following the trade of van Riemsdyk and free-agent defection by Jagr.
Jagr scored 19 goals and was third on the team with 54 points in his only season in Philadelphia. Van Riemsdyk had only 24 points in an injury-filled season, but is capable of 30-plus goals in Toronto. Even Carle, their top defenseman, had 38 points before signing a free-agent deal with Tampa Bay.
None of those players are easy to replace. But at least they still have one of the premier players in the game in All-Star Claude Giroux.
"You could argue that we lost a lot of good players, and we did," Holmgren said. "I think we're still a good team that has a lot of potential."