Brian Boucher is back, Mike Knuble is gone, and feisty right winger Ian Laperriere will be wearing orange and black.

For the Flyers, it was a busy first day in the free-agent market.

Boucher, who was superb as San Jose's backup goalie last season, and Laperriere (seven goals with Colorado) signed salary-cap-friendly deals with the Flyers yesterday, while Knuble opted to sign with the Washington Capitals.

With the departure of Knuble and the trade of Joffrey Lupul in last week's blockbuster Chris Pronger deal, the Flyers will need to replace a combined 52 goals from last season.

"It's a lot of goals, but we're still looking around," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "We'd like to add one more offensive type. There are still players out there that we value."

Nik Antropov, John Madden and Chad LaRose were among the free agents who were still available as of last night. The Flyers are about $2.3 million under the $56.8 million cap.

Holmgren believes that having Danny Briere and Claude Giroux for an entire season will help offset the offensive losses. Briere, hindered by injuries, played in just 29 games last season, while Giroux was a midseason promotion from the minors.

Laperriere, 35, who can also play center, is a third- or fourth-line type. The Flyers like that he has face-off experience, but he won just 43.9 percent of his draws last season.

He signed a three-year deal for $3.5 million.

"Losing doesn't sit well with him," Holmgren said. "He's a warrior and one of those players who does what it takes to win. . . . I've always loved his character, even when he was with the Rangers."

Laperriere, a 6-foot-1, 201-pounder with 14 years of NHL experience, had 19 points and 163 penalty minutes last season. He said Toronto, Phoenix, and Calgary also showed interest, but he opted for the Flyers because he thinks they are close to winning a Stanley Cup.

"Every time they make a move, like [getting] Pronger, they show the fans and the team they'll do anything to win," he said. "Getting [goalie Ray] Emery, who has everything to prove. And there are a lot of guys on the team that haven't won yet and want to prove to the hockey world that they're winners."

Boucher returns to the organization that drafted him in the first round (22d overall) in 1995. The 32-year-old goaltender was 12-6-3 with a 2.18 goals-against average and .917 save percentage last season, and he will serve as the understudy to the unpredictable Emery. He signed a two-year contract for $1.85 million.

Holmgren said Boucher's game is "more under control" than when he played for the Flyers from 1999-2000 to 2001-02. Since then, he has played for five teams.

"Brian is a lot better than he was when he left here," Holmgren said. "I thought he lost his focus in the net sometimes."

Boucher agreed.

"When I was in Philly before, I was a young guy and I was still learning," he said. "Success came early, and I wouldn't trade it, but I wasn't ready to be a No. 1 goalie at that time and it set me back a couple of years. It took me a couple of years to learn the ups and downs of the position.

"Ten, 12 years later, I have more experience."

As for the starter, Emery, Boucher plans to be "the kind of guy that can help him play well and be there for him and be a good tandem. Hopefully, we can do the job so we can win a championship."

Knuble, who averaged 29 goals per year in four steady seasons as a Flyers right winger, signed a two-year deal with Washington for $5.6 million. The Flyers originally tried to get the almost-37 Knuble to sign a one-year, incentive-filled deal. They later offered a two-year contract, but they didn't have enough cap space to match the Caps' offer.

The Flyers will be hard-pressed to replace the presence supplied by Knuble in front of the net. Last season, he scored 27 goals, 11 on the power play.