Rather than allow the free-agent market to dictate terms and conditions on July 1, the Flyers took matters into their own hands this afternoon, trading for unrestricted free agent defenseman Kimmo Timonen and unrestricted free agent left winger Scott Hartnell of Nashville.

Both players agreed to six-year deals with the Flyers. Timonen's $37.8 million contract will average $6.3 million against the cap while Hartnell's $25.2 million deal averages $4.2 million.

The Predators got back their first-round pick (No. 23 overall) that came to the Flyers last winter during the Peter Forsberg deal.

This is yet another stunning coup for Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Timonen, is considered the best free-agent, puck-moving defenseman who would have been on the open market this summer. At 32, he becomes the Flyers' number-one blue liner.

Although Timonen will be 38 at the end of the contract, the deal is front-loaded so that more money is paid out now, when he's still in his prime.

The 6-2, 208-pound Hartnell, 25, is a 20-goal scorer who can play either wing and gives the Flyers more options in their line, which already included fleet-footed Scotty Upshall, who came to the Flyers from Nashville as part of the Forsberg deal.

In one seemingly simple deal, the Flyers are quicker up front and quicker on the back end, and all they lost in the trade was a late pick in this weekend's NHL draft in Columbus, Ohio. This year's draft is one of the weakest on record, so losing that pick means nothing to the Flyers, given the bonanza they got in return.

Nashville, which is in the process of being sold from Craig Leipold to Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie, obviously conceded that it could not re-sign either Timonen or Hartnell this summer and went for the draft pick instead. Also, the club appears to be lightening its future payroll while Balsillie has informed the NHL that he wants to move the club to Hamilton, Ontario.

Losing Timonen, Hartnell, and quite possibly Forsberg if he doesn't re-sign, could put the Predators closer to the exit door in Music City.

Timonen had 13 goals and 42 assists last season. Hartnell had 22 goals and 17 assists.

Holmgren used this philosophy before, trading a second-round pick to Buffalo for goaltender Marty Biron on the trading deadline in February. The potential unrestricted free agent signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Flyers before the season ended.

The Flyers also are going to salary arbitration with restricted free agent defenseman Joni Pitkanen.