THE FLYERS have the NHL's most expensive collection of second- and third-pairing defensemen. That's not a knock - or at least, an intentional one. You see, Kimmo Timonen ($6 million), Braydon Coburn ($4.5 million), Andrej Meszaros ($4 million), Luke Schenn ($3.6 million) and Nick Grossmann ($3.5 million) are all fine players. Most NHL teams would love to add a defenseman of that caliber to their roster this summer. But for the Flyers, five No. 3 defensemen - or worse - does not a contender make. The Flyers miss Chris Pronger. In other news, Philadelphia misses Benjamin Franklin. Too much of a stretch? Probably not when you consider the void left when Pronger hung up his skates in December 2011. No, that's not a misprint. That's 2011. As in, nearly 2 calendar years ago. Pronger had little to nothing to do with the Flyers' shortcomings during the lockout-shortened season. General manager Paul Holmgren planned to enter the season without Pronger - likely even before the 2011-12 campaign had wrapped up with that mind-numbing loss to the Devils. That's why last summer Holmgren decided to take a stab at landing both Norris Trophy finalist Ryan Suter and then his former Nashville teammate, Shea Weber. The Flyers were prepared to spend Pronger's salary-cap injury benefit in an effort to replace him. It didn't work out. As has been well-documented, the time spent pursuing Suter (and Zach Parise) cost the Flyers Jaromir Jagr's services. It likely also cost the Flyers a shot at re-signing Matt Carle, though it's not guaranteed they would have matched the 6-year, $33 million pact Carle received in Tampa Bay. Holmgren did not replace Carle. More important, he's yet to replace Pronger. And it's not for a lack of trying. They don't grow on trees.
Fixing the Flyers' defense
Philly.com | May 9