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‘Blockbustered out’ Flyers dismiss Stamkos speculation

Sorry to be a spoilsport, but . . . Forget the reports about Tampa Bay superstar Steven Stamkos becoming a Flyer.

Sorry to be a spoilsport, but . . .

Forget the reports about Tampa Bay superstar Steven Stamkos becoming a Flyer.

Two sources connected to the Flyers dismissed the rumors on Tuesday.

"Not happening," one club executive said.

"I think we're blockbustered out," said Peter Luukko, another club executive, referring to the bombshell trades that sent Mike Richards to Los Angeles and Jeff Carter to Columbus last week.

Stamkos is a restricted free agent, and an NHL source said the Lightning would match any qualifying offer - he could get about $10 million a season - that another team makes, including the Flyers.

In other words, Stamkos will remain in Tampa.

As for the Flyers, they have more realistic goals. When the unrestricted free-agent market opens at noon on Friday, the Flyers have their eyes on several veteran forwards, including Erik Cole, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Simon Gagne. Michal Handzus and Michael Ryder are also getting looks.

The Flyers have about $6.7 million in salary-cap space, but that number figures to grow when the season starts because the team is expected to send Michael Leighton ($1.55 million) back to the Phantoms and place Ian Laperierre ($1.16 million) on the long-term injured list.

Teams can go 10 percent over the cap in the summer.

The Flyers still must sign restricted free agents Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek. That will happen soon.

They are also optimistic about re-signing Ville Leino, who can become an unrestricted free agent on Friday.

General manager Paul Holmgren said he has been playing phone tag with Leino's agent and he thinks a deal will get done.

Signing Leino is a must because the Flyers offense was severely weakened by the Carter and Richards deals.

On Tuesday, the Flyers introduced the three young forwards acquired last week - Simmonds, Voracek and Brayden Schenn - in a news conference at the Wells Fargo Center.

Each player said he didn't feel pressure because he was involved in trades involving Richards or Carter, high-scoring forwards who were the face of the franchise.

"I'm just going to come here and play my game," said Simmonds, 22, a hard-nosed winger who said he felt honored that he was greeted by a text message from future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger welcoming him to Philadelphia after the deal. "I think my game speaks for itself."

Said Schenn, 19, a baby-faced center who percolates with promise and was the key piece in the deal that sent Richards to the Kings: "I got traded for a great player, but I'm just going to try to be myself."

In his four-year career in the Western Hockey League, Schenn had 116 goals, 199 assists, and 315 points in 224 games.

He may not be a future Stamkos (who is?), but he has the makings of an elite player.

Voracek, 21, who like Simmonds brings some much-needed size at wing, downplayed being traded for the underappreciated Carter, whose scoring and excellent faceoff work will be sorely missed.

"I don't feel any extra pressure," he said. "It's still the same game - a hockey puck and net and boards."

But will the Flyers, whose defense and goaltending are their obvious strong points, have enough weapons to fill the net? Or will they be similar to the pitching-rich Phillies, a team that must win a lot of 2-1 and 3-1 games?

Holmgren admitted he "thinks about" whether the Flyers have enough offense and said he expects another player to be added when free agency starts.

He also said he believes there is enough offense for the Flyers to be a Stanley Cup contender.

Holmgren expects Simmonds (14 goals last year) and Voracek (14) to improve their production because of their increased roles, and Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk to keep blossoming. He noted that, a few years ago, the Flyers had enough offense even though they lost two important forwards - Joffrey Lupul and Mike Knuble - and last year they lost Gagne and still finished third in the league in scoring.

Still, it seems imperative that the Flyers re-sign Leino and get another 20-goal scorer through free agency. They don't want to go into each game thinking Ilya Bryzgalov must allow only one or two goals for them to win.