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With three additions, Flyers say 'We're better'

Tuesday, 07.09.2013 / 6:13 PM / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
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With three additions, Flyers say \'We\'re better\'
The Philadelphia Flyers are hopeful that the additions of Vincent Lecavalier, Mark Streit and Ray Emery will help them get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

PHILADELPHIA -- For Philadelphia Flyers chairman Ed Snider, it was pretty easy Tuesday to look at his franchise and know it was better with the additions of defenseman Mark Streit, goaltender Ray Emery and center Vincent Lecavalier.

"You don't add three terrific players like that without getting better," Snider said following a press conference at Wells Fargo Center. "We're better, no question about it."

The hope is the three veterans -- each over 30 years old -- can help the Flyers get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a 10th-place finish in the Eastern Conference in 2012-13.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said he felt the addition of Streit especially fills a need. He had six goals and 27 points in 48 games with the New York Islanders in 2012-13, but prior to that averaged 50 points over the past five seasons he's played (he missed 2010-11 with a shoulder injury).

Days before the start of free agency, the Flyers traded minor-leaguer Shane Harper and a 2014 fourth-round draft pick for Streit, 35, then signed him to a four-year, $21 million contract.

"We added Mark, a type of defenseman we need," Holmgren said. "A guy that can play on the power play, a guy that provides offense 5-on-5, a defenseman that gets up in the rush and joins the rush and at times can lead the rush and make plays coming out of our end -- we've needed that."

Helping the Islanders end a playoff drought that dated to 2007 made Long Island a tough place to leave, but Streit said he felt he needed a change of scenery.

"After the season was done, I had that feeling that it was time to move on for me," he said. "After the season, I was thinking about teams, and I had a few teams on my mind. The Flyers were on the top of that list. I always loved playing here against them. I thought they had a great team, a great mix between young and older players. A lot of skill, but a lot of grit. It was tough to play against those guys. It's a great hockey town, great tradition. As soon as I got traded, I was really hoping to get something done here. I'm so excited and thankful they gave me the opportunity. I'm really thrilled. I think this team has a really big potential."

It's the same potential Lecavalier, 33, saw that swayed him toward signing a five-year, $22.5 million contract after being bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He said he was sold when Holmgren and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette laid out their plans and the roster at a meeting a few days after he was let go by the Lightning.

"It was that meeting … what they said, just their style of play, the roster, what they were saying," Lecavalier said. "They left the meeting, I was like, wow, that was a really good meeting. I was excited. The next day I started making phone calls, trying to do my homework on this organization."

Among those he talked to were Simon Gagne, Vinny Prospal, Pavel Kubina and Ruslan Fedotenko -- former teammates in Tampa Bay who also played for Philadelphia. Lecavalier said he got positive reports.

"Everyone had just good things to say about it," he said. "Expectations are high, that's what I like. They want to win, and that's what I want to be a part of."

Lecavalier said it wasn't easy leaving the Lightning, the team that selected him with the first pick of the 1998 NHL Draft and for whom he played 14 seasons. But landing with the Flyers is the best-case scenario.

"When I signed my deal I thought I'd be a Lightning forever," he said of the 11-year, $85 million contract he signed with Tampa Bay in July 2008. "Obviously that didn't happen, [but] I'm proud to wear this [Flyers] jersey. They've proven in the last 18, 20 years, making it to the playoffs so many years, how hard they play. You come into this building, you better be ready to go because you know the Flyers are coming out hard. I'm proud to be part of that."

In addition to Lecavalier's skill -- he had a streak of 13-straight 20-goal seasons snapped in 2012-13; he's scored at least 30 five times; and won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2007 when he scored 52 goals -- is his playoff experience. He has 52 points in 63 postseason games, including four goals in seven games against the Flyers in the 2004 Eastern Conference Final en route to helping the Lightning win their only Stanley Cup.

"I remember before the series thinking this would be a tough series and it was," Lecavalier said. "Playing against Keith Primeau, who I learned a lot from, how hard he played, what he brought to his team. It could have went either way -- it was one of those series. You win Game 7 … that was probably our best series of the playoffs."

The Flyers also are getting a player with playoff experience, Emery, who went 17-1-0 to help the Chicago Blackhawks finish with the best record in the 2012-13 season and was the backup to Corey Crawford as they won the Stanley Cup. Emery started all 20 games for the Ottawa Senators in their run to the 2007 Final.

"If you look at Ray's record since he's been in the NHL, all he does is win," Holmgren said. "All he does is win."

Emery played 29 games for the Flyers in 2009-10, a season that was cut short in February 2010 by a hip injury later diagnosed as avascular necrosis, which nearly ended his career. Though that season is remembered for the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup Final, what most forget is Emery's 16 wins tied for the regular-season team lead.

"I remember [Emery's] last game, he shut out Calgary 3-0, and the next morning I got a phone call that his hip is bad," Holmgren said. "And it was just … everybody remembers our goaltending situation after that. Who didn't we have playing after that? And we went to the Final. If we had Ray Emery, who knows?"

What Emery remembers from that season was what the Flyers did for him off the ice.

"I'm fortunate the organization, the diligence they put in, to find the best surgery," he said. "For them to put in that much effort into … they flew me all over the place to look for doctors and all that. Coming back, especially after how things have gone, it's real special for me to get a chance to play for them again and hope to do well in this situation, just from the effort they put in saving my hip and allowing me to play again."

The next step for Emery, as well as the other additions, is meshing their skills with the Flyers' core group and getting the team back to the postseason.

"I think last year, looking back, we were a team good enough to get into the playoffs, but we had a lot of bad things happen to us," Holmgren said. "Our aim is to rectify that and get ourselves into the playoffs this year."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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