Flyers should bring Timonen back
April, 30, 2014
By Craig Custance | ESPN.com
Len Redkoles/NHLI/Getty ImagesDespite his advanced age, Kimmo Timonen remains a key member of the Flyers' blue-line group.So much has happened during the 2013-14 campaign in Philadelphia that the Peter Laviolette firing seems like it occurred in a different season.
There was the Claude Giroux Olympic snub, then his push for the Hart Trophy. Steve Mason carried the team for a stretch in November, and then was rewarded with a new contract. Paul Holmgren got an early jump on addressing his defensive needs with the addition and subsequent contract extension of defenseman Andrew MacDonald.
In the end, the Flyers were back in the playoffs, and the hiring of Craig Berube proved to be a strong one, with his steady improvement of the Flyers in all facets of the game, overcoming a slow start to make a playoff push.
But their elimination in seven games to the New York Rangers shows there’s still work to be done in Philadelphia. This is where the focus should shift this summer:
1. Squeeze one more season out of Kimmo Timonen
Timonen’s contract is up after this season and the Flyers would love to have him back, but at 39 years old it’s quite possible that he opts to hang up the skates. He’s lost a step, but is so smart defensively that his positioning and savvy make up for his lack of foot speed.
He had strong possession numbers this season, aided in part by starting 55.2 percent of his even-strength shifts in the offensive zone (per behindthenet.ca). The payoff is a relative Corsi of 13.9, which put him in the top five among NHL defensemen who played at least 70 games this season.
The only guys higher in that category were T.J. Brodie, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Jake Gardiner and Matt Niskanen.