RALEIGH, N.C. - Just a few days after trading away their first- and third-round picks in this summer's draft for Kris Versteeg, the Flyers are already focusing their attention elsewhere to re-stock the farm system's cupboard.
Paul Holmgren confirmed to the Daily News that the Flyers are courting Merrimack College forward Stephane Da Costa in an attempt to get him to leave college after two seasons.
Da Costa, a 21-year-old native of Paris, has 81 points in 61 games at the NCAA level. Boston and Nashville are two of the other teams with reported interest.
"I think we're one of a lot of teams that would like to have him," Holmgren said. "It's a different avenue. We've traded a lot of draft picks over the last few years. Whether we had draft picks or not, it's a fertile ground to follow."
When Holmgren has his sights set on a player, he usually doesn't disappoint. Last year, Holmgren targeted five undrafted free agents in college - Ben Holmstrom, Mike Testwuide, Erik Gustafsson, Andrew Rowe and Casey Wellman - and Wellman was the only player to not sign an entry-level deal with the Flyers.
Wellman inked a deal with Minnesota after being guaranteed a spot in its NHL lineup directly upon completing his NCAA season last March - which was one of the only things Holmgren couldn't match with the Flyers' deep lineup. Wellman collected four points in 12 games with the Wild last season.
Holmgren even went as far as to sign Testwuide's older brother, AHL veteran J.P. Testwuide, to make his transition to pro hockey more seamless. Da Costa could be next in that line.
Forward Ville Leino, who missed Wednesday's game in Florida with a lower-body injury, did not have a chance to test himself yesterday in Raleigh, as the Flyers did not practice after back-to-back games with travel.
GM Paul Holmgren said he'd be surprised if Leino was not available for tonight's game. A determination will be made after this morning's pregame skate.
"I'm feeling better," Leino said. "I'll have to see [today] how it is, though."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is normally very guarded about his personality and the information he reveals through the media. That might have to change with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's recent proclamation that any team playing in the 2012 Winter Classic would have to allow HBO Sports' cameras access to film a "24/7" show about the lead-up to the biggest game of the regular season.
Sources say the Flyers have been part of the NHL's internal discussions to host an outdoor game next season.
"I guess I'd have to go with whatever they say upstairs [in management]," Laviolette said. "If it meant playing in another Winter Classic, I'd be all for it. We had a lot of fun with that game.
"And, plus, I'd try to let them to film Craig Berube as much as possible. He's much funnier than I am."
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