Holmgren signs extension, 10 best moves

This article can be found published on Chicks Who Give a Puck.
Paul Holmgren has had his fingerprints all over the league-leading Philadelphia Flyers. (Daylife.com)

Paul Holmgren has had his fingerprints all over the league-leading Philadelphia Flyers. (Daylife.com)

The Philadelphia Flyers locked up a key piece of the organization on Tuesday by giving General Manager Paul Holmgren a three-year contract extension. He is currently in his fifth season as GM of the team and his 32nd within the organization.

Holmgren took over the position of General Manager after Bob Clarke resigned during the team’s horrid 2006-07 season. He undeniably worked wonders bringing in new faces the following year, the Flyers stunned many by their run to the Conference Finals.

Since 2007-08, the Flyers have not missed the playoffs; in the past three postseasons, they have reached the Conference Finals once and the Stanley Cup Finals once.

All but five players on the 2010-11 roster were brought to the team by Holmgren. Those five? Mike Richards (drafted in 2003), Jeff Carter (drafted in 2003), Oskars Bartulis (drafted in 2005), Claude Giroux (drafted in 2006), and Andreas Nodl (drafted in 2006).

32 YEARS WITH THE FLYERS

Holmgren was drafted in the sixth round by the Flyers in 1975. He remained with the Flyers for eight seasons before being traded midway through the 1983-84 season. After retiring in 1985, he became an assistant coach with the Flyers, and remained so until he took over the head coaching position in 1988, after Mike Keenan was fired. He was fired in his fourth season behind the bench after failing to make the playoffs in the previous two years.

Holmgren returned to the Flyers organization as Director of Pro Scouting in 1995 and became the Director of Player Personnel the following year. In the 1999-00 season, he was named Assistant General Manager under Clarke.

THE 10 BEST

Holmgren has made some great moves to keep the Flyers on the list of Stanley Cup contenders every year – here is a list of what I believe are his 10 best trades and signings.

Dec. 13, 2007: Holmgren locked up the young star and future captain Richards with a 12-year, $69 million contract extension. Richards is a player who can do it all for the team. He plays on the top line, and can play on the powerplay and kill penalties. He can dish out punishing hits and is not afraid to drop the gloves. He’s the type of player you want to build a team around, and that is exactly what Holmgren intended to do when signing him long term.

Feb. 18, 2007: Holmgren made a blockbuster move by acquiring defenseman Kimmo Timonen and forward Scott Hartnell from the Nashville Predators for a 2007 first round pick. The same day, he signed them both to long-term deals. Timonen, who has quietly been a No. 1 on the blue line, was signed to a six-year, $37.8 million deal. Hartnell – who has had his ups and downs – is once again proving to be a consistent point-producer this season, was signed to a six-year, $25.2 million deal.

Feb. 24, 2007: Holmgren traded defenseman Alexei Zhitnik to the Atlanta Thrashers for defenseman Braydon Coburn. Zhitnik went on to play 83 games with the Thrashers and posted only 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists) before moving to the KHL in 2008. Coburn has become one of the top defensemen for the Flyers; he has played in 304 games and recorded 99 points (25 goals, 74 assists).

July 1, 2007: It was the summer of Danny Briere, who hit free agency on July 1. Montreal was sure that the Gatineau native would return to play for his home team, but next moment Briere was standing next to Holmgren holding a Flyers jersey. Briere has battled through a few slumps and injuries in his four seasons on the team, but he has also come up big when he needed to. He led all players in points in the 2010 playoffs, even edging by Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Toews. His hot hands have continued into this season, where he leads the Flyers in goals and points.

Nov. 7, 2008: Holmgren traded defenseman Steve Eminger, forward Steve Downie and a 2009 fourth round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Matt Carle. Since the trade, Eminger has been with four different teams in three seasons and has compiled only 44 points in 166 games; Downie had been more productive with the Lightning, scoring 70 points in 139 games. Meanwhile, Carle has been a top four defenseman for the Flyers. In 190 games, he has posted 83 points and is on pace this season for matching his career high in points.

June 26, 2009: Holmgren shocked the draft floor when he announced his trade of forward Joffrey Lupul, defenseman Luca Sbisa, two first round draft picks and a conditional third round draft pick to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Ryan Dingle and defenseman Chris Pronger. Lupul has had two rough seasons since the trade, battling injury and a blood infection. Pronger, meanwhile, has been a force on the Flyers blue line. He has the canny ability to get under the opposition’s skin, and players know that they will be punished if they sit in front of the crease.

Dec. 4, 2009: The Flyers were in a downward spiral with barely any light left at the end of the tunnel when Holmgren fired head coach John Stevens and replaced him with Peter Laviolette. Laviolette’s system is a perfect fit for the team and, once the players were conditioned enough to implement it, the team dug themselves out of the basement and went on a run to the Cup Finals. A full year with Laviolette at the helm could see the elusive Cup return home to Philadelphia. At this point in the season, the Flyers are first in the Eastern Conference and tied for first in the NHL.

Feb. 6, 2010: Holmgren traded defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a 2011 fifth round draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings for forward Ville Leino. Leino was a force for the Flyers during their run to the Cup Finals last year and has continued working well alongside Hartnell and Briere this season. He has already demolished his previous career high of 9 points with his 35 points in 46 games. Tollefsen, on the other hand, has not played a single game for the Red Wings.

May 6, 2010: Holmgren made a steal when he signed free agent goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky was never drafted but the Flyers jumped on the young goaltender, who spent two years with a horrid KHL team. This season, he has already won the Rookie of the Month honors for November, and is in the running for the Calder Trophy.

July 1, 2010: Holmgren made quite a splash on free-agent frenzy day. He identified the weaknesses on the team during the playoffs and set out to find those missing pieces. He started by trading a 2011 second round pick to the Lightning for defenseman Andrej Meszaros and then went on to sign three free agents: veteran defenseman Sean O’Donnell, right wing Nikolay Zherdev and left wing Jody Shelley. Meszaros and O’Donnell have been a great third pairing. Meszaros currently leads the league in plus-minus (plus-29). Zherdev is sixth on the team with 14 goals, and Shelley will always stand up for his teammates and happily oblige anyone who wants a fight.

Honorable Mentions: Free agent signings of goaltender Brian Boucher and right winger Ian Laperriere (July 1, 2009); waiver pick up on goaltender Michael Leighton (Dec. 15, 2009); three-year, $11.25 million contract extension to forward Giroux (Nov. 8, 2010); 11-year, $58 million contract extension to forward Carter (Nov. 13, 2010).

How do you feel about the 10 moves listed? Do you agree or disagree? Is there one listed that you believe is the top move of all time? Share your opinions below!

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Categories: Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports

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