During their playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers were reluctant to use their third defensive pairing.
So, in his first move of the off-season, general manager Paul Holmgren made a deal Saturday that significantly upgrades that unit, acquiring defenseman Dan Hamhuis and a conditional draft pick in 2011 from Nashville for Ryan Parent, a little-used and frequently injured defenseman.
Now the Flyers have 11 days to sign the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Hamhuis (pronounced HAM-HOOS), who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
"Obviously, our intention is to get him signed prior to that date, and that is what our aim is at this point," said Holmgren, who has had preliminary discussions with Hamhuis' agent, Wade Arnott. "The sooner we get going on trying to get this done, the better."
If the Flyers do not sign Hamhuis prior to the 2010-11 season, Nashville will give them its seventh-round pick in 2011, Holmgren said.
Hamhuis, whom the Flyers pursued at the trade deadline, earned $2 million last season.
"He's a guy who can play lots of minutes and he can play in a lot of different situations, from power play to killing penalties," Holmgren said. "He is another athlete we'd like to add to our team to continue to improve our defense."
Hamhuis, 27, was drafted in the first round (12th overall) by Nashville in 2001. He said it was "sad" to leave the Predators. "I spent some great years with them and it is a great organization to be a part of," he said. "I've heard nothing but great things about the city of Philadelphia and the Flyers."
If signed, Hamhuis would be part of arguably the NHL's deepest defensive group, one that features Chris Pronger and Matt Carle as the first pairing, and Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn (a restricted free agent) as the second pairing. Hamhuis would probably be paired with Oskars Bartulis and would help reduce the minutes provided by veterans Pronger and Timonen.
"Philly has an unbelievable defensive core," Hamhuis said. "To join a core like that makes the Flyers one of the tougher ones in the league. To play against the teams from the East, the conference has a lot of great forwards, and watching the playoffs, having a great defense will get you a long way."
Hamhuis had 24 points (five goals, 19 assists), a plus-4 rating, and 49 penalty minutes in 78 regular-season games with Nashville in 2009-10. He also posted two assists in six games of the Western Conference quarterfinals against Chicago.
Parent, 23, was acquired as part of the Peter Forsberg trade in 2007, and is returning to Nashville, which selected him in the first round (18th overall) in the 2005 draft. He had back surgery on Jan. 25, and Holmgren recently said this was a key off-season for the defenseman to return to form.
"He has a lot of upside as a player, and is going back to an organization that obviously knows him because they drafted him," Holmgren said.
Parent, a restricted free agent who had three points in 48 games this season, had a turnover-filled playoffs, and averaged just 7 minutes, 28 seconds in 17 postseason games.
As for Hamhuis, in six full NHL seasons - all with the Predators - he has compiled 32 goals and 129 assists for 161 points and 375 penalty minutes.
Hamhuis, a native of Smithers, British Columbia, has appeared in the second-most games among players drafted in 2001, behind only Ilya Kovalchuk (621). He has played in 483 out of a possible 492 regular-season games with Nashville since his first NHL season in 2003-04.