Flyers Trade Powe, Sign Two; Bigger Move Coming?

By David Strehle
ot Stove Creative Editor

The makeover of the Philadelphia Flyers’ forward ranks continued today when GM Paul Holmgren shipped Darroll Powe to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a third-round draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

The move comes just four days after the GM traded captain Mike Richards and the team’s leading goal-scorer Jeff Carter in separate deals on Thursday.

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images North America

The versatile, 5′ 11″, 212-pounder was a restricted free agent, and is the latest forward to be subtracted from last season’s roster.  Powe, a natural center playing on the flank, was another in a long line of defense-oriented Flyers’ wingers.  The gritty, 26-year-old native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan played in 204 games with the Orange-and-Black, scoring 22 goals and recording 41 points, while racking up 130 PIMs.

Powe played in a career-high 81 games this past season, scoring seven goals and 17 points.  He was also one of the top four penalty-killers on the club, and scored his first two career shorthanded markers last year.  In 40 career playoff contests, Powe has scored one goal and five points.

Either Holmgren felt that Powe would be seeking a big raise on the $725,000 cap hit from last season, or the Flyers’ GM is attempting to clear cap space for something bigger when Friday’s free agency period opens.

Despite assurances in the press that no more major moves are in the team’s future, rumors have persisted that Philadelphia is interested in several free agent forwards.  Among those mentioned are UFAs Brooks Laich and Brad Richards.  There have even been murmurs that Holmgren will attempt to sign Tampa Bay Lightning RFA Steven Stamkos to an offer sheet.

While it would seem inconceivable to think a team could pry the goal-scoring wunderkind away from the Lightning, most would have said the same about the possibility of Richards and Carter being dealt away within an hour of each other this time last week.  Those moves show that just about anything is possible in the new NHL – even with a restrictive salary cap in place.

With 19 players under contract for the 2011-12 season, Holmgren is in excess of $6.7 million beneath the cap ceiling.  Talk continues to be that winger Kris Versteeg and his nearly-$3.1 million cap hit may be on the move at some point, and Holmgren could really increase the amount of salary he has to work with by getting Scott Hartnell to waive his NTC and move the left winger out of Philly.  With the departure of Richards and Carter, Hartnell incredibly is now the Flyers’ second-highest salaried forward (to Danny Briere’s $6.5 million).

Philadelphia still has the matter of re-signing Ville Leino, who is set to become an UFA Friday.  Leino is reportedly seeking something in the neighborhood of $4 million per year in a new deal.  Holmgren also has to sign newly-acquired RFA forwards Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, and it is looking increasingly likely that RFA Dan Carcillo will not be brought back.

Two Re-Signed

In other moves on Monday, Philadelphia re-signed a pair of RFA forwards in Andreas Nodl and Tom Sestito.  Nodl’s deal was for two years at $845,000 annually, while the terms Sestito’s deal were not released.

Nodl, 24, got off to a blistering start last year, scoring six goals and 10 points in his first 14 games.  But he tailed off greatly, and the 6′ 1″, 196-pound Austrian-native finished with just 11 goals and 22 points in 67 contests.

The 23-year-old, 6′ 5″, 228-pound Sestito may end up making the opening night Flyers’ roster.  As Holmgren looks to cut costs in certain areas, he may try to move or even buyout Jody Shelley – who is scheduled to make $1.1 million in each of the next two seasons – and have Sestito remain as the club’s enforcer.

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