Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Phillies extend Cole Hamels for 6 more years

Forget all the trade speculation: Cole Hamels is going to be a Phillie for a long, long time.  The Phillies announced this morning that they have signed their home-grown ace to a 6 year, 144 million dollar contract extension.  The deal also includes an option for a 7th year and a limited no-trade provision.

Forgetting that the Phillies are already paying 20+ million to two other pitchers, this is a great deal for both Hamels, who gets market value, and the team, who gets a great pitcher locked up for his prime years.  While he will certainly be on the downside of his career when the contract runs out, Hamels still has plenty of good years left in his arm and its awesome to know they will all be in a Phillies uniform.

What the Phillies do next will be interesting.  They have a ton of money locked into starting pitching for the next several years, so will they feel compelled to move Cliff Lee?  Will they ship out Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence?  If so, what are they going to do for an outfield next season?  With the trade deadline less than a week away, we will likely know their plan soon enough.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Flyers lose out on Weber as Nashville matches

We all had our hopes up.  Certainly the cash-strapped Predators couldn't afford to lock up Shea Weber to a 110 million dollar contract, right?  We all essentially penciled Weber into the Flyers line-up and started dreaming about an unstoppable defensive unit.

All of those hopes and dreams have now disappeared as Nashville has announced that they will match the Flyers offer sheet to Weber.  While it will be difficult for the Predators to cough up the money necessary for Weber, they determined that their star defenseman was worth every penny.

After losing Weber, where do the Flyers turn now?  They clearly are in the market for a top defenseman but there aren't any left on the market.  The Flyers could throw a bunch of money at forward Shane Doan but that isn't going to do anything for their back end.  While the offer sheet showed plenty of creativity, Paul Holmgren is now going to have to get even more creative if he wants to add a top defenseman to the Flyers.  Homer has shown to have plenty of moves up his sleeve but he is now in danger of leaving the offseason table with nothing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flyers sign Shea Weber to massive offer sheet

The Flyers made huge news late last night when they signed Predators defenseman Shea Weber to a 14 year, 110 million dollar contract.  Since Weber is a restricted free agent, Nashville will have one week to match the Flyers offer if they want to keep their star defenseman.  Should they not match, the Flyers would get Weber but they would be forced to fork over 4 future first round picks.

While Weber is certainly worth the money, it isn't a guarantee that the Predators will match.  The way the Flyers structured the contract, Weber will made 26 million dollars in the first year alone and make more than half of the money in the first 4 years.  For a team without a ton of cash laying around like the Predators, this might not be a deal they can afford to match.

Should the Predators not match, the Flyers will be adding one of the best d-men in the league.  Not only is Weber known for doling out big hits, he has a big shot from the point and can log a ton of ice time.  As the Nashville captain, Weber would also bring leadership to the Flyers and would replace the huge hole left by the injured Chris Pronger.

Speaking of Pronger, this offer sheet likely confirms that Pronger will never again play hockey.  Should the Flyers get Weber, they will also have to make a few moves to shed some salary.  It could mean that Andrej Meszaros and Jakub Voracek have to be shipped out or the Flyers could move an even bigger contract off the books.

It wouldn't be a hockey offseason if Paul Holmgren didn't make a gutsy move.  Adding Weber to one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference would further cement the Flyers as a Stanley Cup favorite.  Early indications are that the Predators can't afford to match but they still have a week to figure out whether they can make it work.  It will be a long week of waiting for the Flyers and their fans.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sixers sign Nick Young, amnesty Elton Brand

While they might not be making earth-shattering moves, at least the Sixers are making things interesting this offseason.  First, they draft another extremely talented swing player that can't shoot from the outside.  Then, they re-sign the much-maligned but actually decent Spencer Hawes to a reasonable 2 year, 13 million dollar contract.  Today they have made two more moves, signing swingman Nick Young and amnestying Elton Brand.

Young is another shooting guard/small forward to add to the Sixers collection, though he can actually shoot the three ball a little bit.  He signed a one year, 6 million dollar contract which could prove to be a good value for a player that can come off the bench and average around 10 points a game.  Given his penchant for volume shooting, it's a fair guess that he is a replacement for Lou Williams.

To have room to sign Young, the Sixers had to use the amnesty clause on Elton Brand, buying out the last year of his contract that would have paid him 18 million next season.  While Brand has been a great leader on the Sixers, he hasn't lived up to his huge contract, averaging just 11 points and 7 boards last season.  Expect him to latch on with another team in need of his veteran presence but he is completely off the Sixers cap this season.

The Sixers were one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals last season.  Have the moves they made so far this offseason made them any better?  Not really, but perhaps they aren't quite done re-tooling.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Flyers sign Gervais, bring back Fedotenko

After missing out on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Flyers have moved on to Plan B.  That Plan B apparently involves picking up much lesser talent as the team announced today that they have signed defenseman Bruno Gervais and forward Ruslan Fedotenko.

Gervais signed a two year deal worth $825,000 per season to be the Flyers 6th defenseman.  While he certainly won't replace the departed Matt Carle, Gervais, a 7 year veteran who has played for the Islanders and Lightning, gives the Flyers good depth in the back end.  There is no expectation that Gervais will develop into a big contributor for the Flyers but he probably won't embarass himself on the 3rd defensive pairing.

As for Fedotenko, he is certainly a blast from the past for Flyers fans, as he last suited up for Philly in 2001.  Since being traded to the Lightning in 2002, Fedotenko has won a Cup in Tampa and also played for the Islanders, Penguins (where he won another Cup) and Rangers.  The Flyers signed him to a one year, 1.75 million dollar contract to play on the third line and chip in about a dozen goals.  Nice pickup but certainly not something that will drastically improve the Flyers and certainly not a move that will replace the production of the departed Jaromir Jagr.

The Flyers moves in free agency have been fairly underwhelming to this point, not that that is necessarily a bad thing.  With a ton of young talent that figures to still be improving, the Flyers have plenty of room to grow into a better team.  Of course, Paul Holmgren could also just be biding his time before he pulls the trigger on a huge trade for Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Flyers bring back Michael Leighton

NHL free agency kicks off today and the Flyers started things off by re-signing a familiar name: Michael Leighton, who signed a one year deal worth $900,000 to be the backup goaltender.  Yep, that's the same Michael Leighton who took the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals and then spent the last two seasons in the AHL.

While the move is perplexing initially, there aren't a lot of other backup goaltending options out there in free agency, especially at that price.  The Flyers are likely trying to go cheap at backup goaltender so they have some extra money to go after a big name, whether it's Ryan Suter or Zach Parise.  If Leighton only has to play a few games behind Ilya Bryzgalov, then the signing looks fine.  If Bryz struggles or gets injured, handing the reigns over to Leighton could prove disastrous.

Look for the Flyers to stay plenty busy today, just like they always do on July 1st.  While this first signing isn't exciting or impressive, it allows the Flyers to now concentrate on making a big splash.