It appears that Arron Asham's time with the Philadelphia Flyers is over, but expect the veteran tough guy to get a big raise from another NHL team in the coming days.
When interviewed last month following the Stanley Cup Final, the native of Portage la Prairie, Man., made it clear that he wanted to stay on Broad Street, but at the time wasn't too optimistic that things would work out with the Flyers, who had a lot of decisions to make with the salary cap in mind.
So when Philadelphia opted not to re-sign the now unrestricted free agent, it became obvious that he wouldn't be a Flyer any longer.
Chris Botta, a well-respected NHL blogger who was VP of media relations for New York Islanders during Asham's tenure on the Island, recently tweeted that Asham has told him the Flyers are no longer an option.
However, another of Botta's recent posts is somewhat more optimistic for Asham's future, as he revealed that the Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings are among teams who have contacted the right winger since he became a UFA on July 1.
Weeks prior to the free agency period, even before the Flyers were crowned Eastern Conference champs, rumours had begun surfacing that the Boston Bruins, and to a lesser extent, the Detroit Red Wings would also be trying to lock up the 32 year old for next season.
Asham just completed a two-year deal that saw him earn $640,000 in 2009-10. At least one signing made by the Flyers, and a couple made elsewhere in the league since the market opened indicate that he'll be receiving a much larger pay day.
The Flyers inked another Manitoba-born, journeyman winger in Jody Shelley on July 1 to a three-year contract worth $1.1M per season.
Shelley, a Thompson product, has shown that he can be an effective middleweight and provide toughness in the bottom six over parts of nine NHL seasons.
Asham is two years younger, boasts the exact same credentials, and then some. Shelley's had one 10-point season in his career; Asham has a career high of 34, and has reached 20 or more in six of his past seven campaigns.
Shelley has a total seven playoff games under his belt to Asham's 52.
If the Flyers felt that Shelley was worth the kind of money they gave him, surely they must have also thought that Asham was deserving of plenty more and could no longer afford his services.
A couple of other signings to consider: the New York Rangers snagging enforcer Derek Boogaard for $6.6M ($1.65M per year) over four years. Boogaard has never played more than 65 games in a season and has two goals since the lockout. Asham scored four during the Flyers' run to the Cup final alone.
Adam Burish left the Chicago Blackhawks to sign for $1.15M per season with the Dallas Stars. Burish is a centreman, so the comparison is a little fuzzier, but he's never produced numbers like Asham has, and found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch the night the 'Hawks hoisted the Cup.
For the same value, Asham would be a better addition than any of the three players mentioned above. In the NHL's post-lockout era, players slotted on to the third and fourth lines can no longer hold their roster spot on toughness alone -- they need to show speed, skill and chip in offensively from time to time in order to see the ice.
Asham has adapted his game to fit this mold, and would bring veteran presence and valuable playoff experience to any team.
With the number of teams knocking on his door, it seems like it really could be any team that Asham suits up for next year. And he'll be worth every penny.