The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have come to terms with four players in their system on contract agreements. Danny Syvret was inked to a one-year NHL contract, Nicola Riopel and David Sloane signed one-year AHL contracts, and draft pick Zac Rinaldo signed a three-year Enty Level deal.
The signings of Syvret and Rinaldo were both very significant at this point in the off-season. Rinaldo will join what is already shaping up to be a very talented group in the Adirondack Mountains this season, and the 2008 6th round draft pick obviously has been impressing the Flyers brass with his play at the Junior level enough to warrant being called up. In the case of Syvret, it adds another element to an already sticky situation concerning the Flyers blue-line this season. Because of Syvret signing an NHL deal as opposed to an AHL deal it means one of two things: first, that the Flyers are planning on swinging the 24-year-old back and forth between the Phantoms and Flyers over the course of the season, or, second, that the Flyers fully intend on Syvret playing out of the Wachovia Center this year. Syvret has been a Flyers call-up in the past two years since being acquired in a deal from the Edmonton Oilers that sent former Flyer Ryan Potulny to Edmonton. In his brief NHL stints, Syvret’s poise and smooth skating have stood out to the Flyers scouts and many feel that the young blue-liner is poised to make the NHL his permanent home.
Obviously, by signing an NHL-based deal, Syvret will definitely have the opportunity to compete for what is believed to be the lone Flyer defensive spot in Training Camp. In my opinion, the fact that Syvret signed a one-year deal is all the more reason that the Flyers will give the youngster a good, hard look this year at camp. As it stands right now, the Flyers have 5 spots locked in place on the defensive front, with the five Flyer-definites being Kimmo Timonen, Chris Pronger, Braydon Coburn, Ryan Parent, and Randy Jones. Although Jones is viewed by many as being perhaps the Flyers weakest defenseman, many within the Flyers organization like Jones and consider him a lock to make the team. That, as I stated earlier, leaves one spot left on the team. When looking at the final spot, the front-runner is definitely Matt Carle, a player who spent all of last season with the Flyers after coming over in the Steve Downie and Steve Eminger trade with Tampa Bay. However, Carle is looked at as a player who the Flyers feel needs a lot of work, and that is a big reason as to why Philadelphia signed both Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and now Danny Syvret this off-season – to add to the competition in camp. However, enough on this right now; this topic will be a huge part of the discussion in my 2009 Season Preview, so stay tuned for that.
Aside from Syvret and Rinaldo, the signings of Nicola Riopel and David Sloane are also important for the organization. Riopel, by signing an AHL contract, will likely be the back-up to Johan Backlund with the Adirondack Phantoms this season. (Interesting side-note: I wonder if the situation in the Flyers organization has ever presented itself in the past, with both sets of goalies on the AHL and NHL team being new to the organization? Just some food for thought.) Sloane, who many will remember as the Flyers’ one-game-$100-rent-a-player-call-up this past season against the New York Rangers when the team was so cap strapped that it couldn’t bring anyone up, was rewarded with a spot on the Phantoms. Having depth defensively is never a bad thing, so Sloane coming aboard should be looked at as a feather in the Flyers’ cap.
Overall, four very nice – and extremely necessary – signings by the Flyers. It’s looking like the team is finally starting to take shape as the 2009-2010 season is on the horizon – can’t wait!