Flyers acquire free-agent gems Hartnell, Timonen

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers acquired defenseman
Kimmo Timonen and forward Scott Hartnell from the Nashville
Predators on Monday, improving a team that finished last in the

Kimmo Timonen


Scott Hartnell


The Predators get a first-round pick -- the same one they sent to
the Flyers to acquire Peter Forsberg -- for Timonen and Hartnell,
who were to become unrestricted free agents July 1 but are close to
signing with Philadelphia.

Both players have reportedly agreed to six-year contracts with
Philadelphia. Timonen's deal is for $37.8 million and Hartnell's
for $25.2 million.

"We're extremely close to getting it done," Flyers general
manager Paul Holmgren said. "We'll get it done in the next day or

Timonen had 13 goals, 42 assists and a plus-20 rating last
season. The 32-year-old player will bolster a blue line that had
significant problems last season. The versatile Hartnell had 22
goals and 17 assists. He can play either wing.

The Flyers still hold the No. 2 pick in the NHL draft that
begins Friday night. They are coming off a woeful season (22-48-12)
after years of success. The Flyers missed the playoffs for the
first time since 1994 and set team records for most losses and
fewest points (56).

In all, Philadelphia used a team-record 49 players last season,
including 15 rookies.

One of the league's top puck-moving defensemen, Timonen has 79
goals and 222 assists in eight seasons with Nashville. He is
minus-6 for his career, playing mostly on a team that struggled.

"Kimmo is a tremendous two-way defenseman," Holmgren said.
"He's smart and he plays around bigger guys."

The 25-year-old Hartnell was the sixth overall pick by Nashville
in 2000. He has 93 goals and 118 assists in six seasons with the

"He's a hard-nosed kid. He moves good, he's aggressive and he's
a tough player," Holmgren said.

It's the first time uncertainty over the Predators' future
ownership has affected the roster of the team that posted a
franchise-best 110 points and finished third in the NHL this
season. Craig Leipold has accepted a deal to sell the team for $220
million to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, a deal not expected
to be considered at the NHL board of governors' meeting Wednesday.

A local group interested in buying the team reportedly is
preparing to make an offer if Balsillie's falls through. A June 30
deadline has been set to complete the sale.

General manager David Poile has not been able to settle on his
budget for next season, which made it difficult to re-sign Hartnell
or Timonen -- the team captain and an All-Star this season.

"We expected both Scott and Kimmo to be among the most
sought-after at their respective positions when the unrestricted
free-agent marketplace opens on July 1, and it did not appear as if
we were going to be able to sign either player before then," Poile
said in a statement.