PAUL HOLMGREN didn't take long to wrap up his free-agent moves.
Within hours of the beginning of the NHL free-agent signing period yesterday, the Flyers general manager brought in Bruins forward Glen Metropolit and Finnish defenseman Ossi Vaananen.
Metropolit, 34, might be a more familiar face to Flyers fans. He played 82 games for Boston last season, scoring 11 goals to go with 22 assists.
Vaananen, 27, played all of his 430 career NHL games in the Western Conference, and last season jumped to Sweden to play in Stockholm after not getting a significant offer last July when he first became a free agent.
"I think he panicked on July 1st or 2nd last year. I know there was lots of interest in him last year, but he just decided to go to Europe. He's experienced, he's a fierce competitor, and I think he's a good fit on our team," Holmgren said.
"We think [Vaananen] is a guy that upgrades our defense. He's a good skater, he's big, he can kill penalties, he can shut down top lines. And he's a capable guy moving the puck. Between him and [newly acquired defenseman] Steve Eminger, we think we've made our defense better."
Metropolit is an older, less expensive replacement for R.J. Umberger, who was traded to Columbus for a first-round pick the night of the draft.
"We're happy with how the day went for us," Holmgren said. "We got a defenseman, we got Eminger via trade at the draft.
"And we were able to add Metropolit up front. We think he's a good, solid player that's going to give us minutes in a lot of different areas. He's a good hockey player and he can play right wing, he can play center, he can kill penalties. He's a useful player."
So, barring any surprise trades - and none appears to be in the making - the Flyers are done remaking their team for the coming season. There could be one more, small move, but this is it.
Bigger names were available, but the Flyers went the high-end route last year with Danny Briere, and had just enough room under the salary cap to make the moves they wanted this year.
Brian Campbell might have been a huge addition for the Flyers defense, but the 8-year, $56.8 million deal he got from Chicago yesterday - averaging $7.1 million a year - was too rich for the Flyers' pockets.
The same was true of the 6-year, $39 million deal ($6.5 million a year) that Wade Redden got from the New York Rangers.
But the Flyers thought all along they needed only to make adjustments, and they have done that.
In the week since the entry draft, the Flyers stockpiled a bunch of defensive prospects, traded for one NHL defenseman in Eminger, brought in a free agent who can be a puck mover and re-signed Randy Jones and Jeff Carter.
Jones' 2-year contract pays him $2.5 million this year and $3 million next season and locks up the young restricted free agent. Jones said it is now up to him to prove he is worth the money.
"When anyone signs a contract, the easiest thing to do is go out and get that deal; the hardest thing to do is to go out and prove that you're worth it, and not only that, but that you're worth more than that. I'm definitely excited," Jones said.
In the meantime, besides trading Umberger, the Flyers said goodbye to free-agent defenseman Jason Smith.
Holmgren praised Smith for what he did for the Flyers last season, but told him yesterday the Flyers would not be able to pay him what he would want in a contract and wished him good luck.
And so in the last week, the Flyers' defense got younger and more mobile, to add to what Holmgren thinks is already a strong group offensively.
"I think what people don't realize is that our three best offensive defensemen all had [at least 31 points] last year, and only two teams in the league are able to say that," he said.
"Jones, who we have signed, [Braydon] Coburn and [Kimmo] Timonen all had [at least 31 points] last year. So those are basically our offensive guys. We think our defense is better."
Also yesterday, the Flyers traded Denis Gauthier to Los Angeles for defenseman Patrik Hersley and left wing Ned Lukacevic. Hersley and Lukacevic played last season in the Kings' minor league system.
The Flyers also signed minor league forward Nate Raduns, 24, who played last season for the Worcester Sharks in the AHL, to a 1-year deal, and Sean Curry, who played last year for Providence in the AHL, to a 2-year deal.
"That's it for us," Holmgren said. "We have something else on the table for one other guy, but we're not sure where that's going to go." *