The Philadelphia Flyers have dipped into the free agent market a little early, thanks to the Nashville Predators. Because of Nashville's uncertain ownership future and an expected tight budget in the coming year, the Predators arranged with the Flyers to give them exclusive negotiating rights to two coveted free agents - defenceman Kimmo Timonen and forward Scott Hartnell. Sources tell TSN the Flyers have now signed both Hartnell and Timonen to long-term contracts. Hartnell, who was scheduled to become a free agent on July 1, signed with Flyers on a 6-year, $25.2 million deal for a cap hit of $4.2 million per year. The Flyers also agreed to terms with Timonen on a 6-year, $37.8 million contract for an annual cap hit of $6.3 million. In exchange for giving up the rights to the two free agents the Predators knew they would not be able to sign, Nashville received back its own first round pick that it gave to the Flyers as part of the Peter Forsberg trade. ''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,'' said Predators executive vice president/ and general manager David Poile. ''That being said, we received a first-round pick for the exclusive right to negotiate with two players who ultimately could have hit the market in two weeks.'' ''Timonen was our team captain this past season and an All-Star,'' added Poile. ''Hartnell is a young player that we drafted, inserted in our lineup at age 18, and saw develop into a 25-goal scorer. Both of these players have been important contributors to our franchise's success and we wish them the best going forward.''