Mutual needs can sometimes get worked out well. After the Flyers went hog wild today signing Jaromir Jagr as well as Maxime Talbot to big free agent deals to join Ilya Bryzgalov in Philadelphia, the salary cap was creeping up on the Flyers. Consider that problem solved now as they’re hooking up a team that needs to add payroll in the worst way.
Philadelphia traded Kris Versteeg to Florida in exchange for either a 2012 or 2013 second round pick and 2013 third round pick. Florida adds Versteeg and his $3.083 salary cap hit to the team as well as his up and down production. He’s a guy that Panthers GM Dale Tallon is more than familiar with from his days in Chicago. Last year with Toronto and Philadelphia, Versteeg scored 21 goals and added 25 assists. He’s scored 20 or more goals for the last three seasons and he’s a consistent contributor that way.
For Philly, they’re happy to free up the space on the roster for Jaromir Jagr and make separating the lines a bit easier. Florida gets another guy that can score goals and helps make their payroll a bit more respectable. If nothing else, Tallon is doing his part to get people talking about the Florida Panthers again. With their signings of Scottie Upshall, Ed Jovanovski, and Jose Theodore the Panthers are doing work and adding money. How it translates into wins remains to be seen, but there’s a little bit of excitement in Sunrise.
For Philadelphia, you have to wonder if they’re making room for another signing or two by getting Versteeg out of town or if they’re just trying to give themselves breathing space against the cap.
Back in 2003 at the NHL Draft, Philadelphia was able to select forwards Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, a pair of guys the Flyers felt they could build around for the future and win the Stanley Cup with. Now, just a day before the 2011 NHL Draft in Minnesota, both of them on their way out of town in separate trades.
Thursday afternoon’s madness began with the Flyers sending Carter to Columbus for restricted free agent forward Jakub Voracek and first and third round picks in the draft. Voracek has been slowly emerging as a power forward force in Columbus and while playing alongside Rick Nash he’s become a better player. Carter has been a perennial 30-40 goal scoring center and now he’ll line up with Nash in Columbus. The Blue Jackets and GM Scott Howson have been talking about making a big splash this summer one way or another and acquiring Carter does just that.
The other stunning deal sees Flyers captain Mike Richards off to Los Angeles in exchange for Wayne Simmonds and highly touted prospect centerman Brayden Schenn. Richards will give L.A. a definitive second line center behind Anze Kopitar and a guy that provides a ton of snarl to the lineup. The Flyers getting Simmonds and Schenn gives them another young center to join Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere in Philadelphia and now an instant chance to make a splash in the NHL after Kings GM Dean Lombardi wouldn’t give him the green light last year.
The Flyers clearing out both Richards and Carter will now clear the way to sign goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to whatever contract he might want now. The rumored deal that Bryzgalov was looking for was a seven-year, $50 million deal with a cap hit of just over $7 million a year. With Carter and Richards both out, the Flyers have moved out 20 years worth of contract commitments to those two worth $102 million. Richards’ deal was a 12-year deal worth $69 million, good for a $5.75 million cap hit while Carter’s was a 11-year $58 million deal with a cap hit of just over $5.2 million.
(Update: Flyers sign Ilya Bryzgalov to nine-year $51 million deal)
With over $10 million gone from the cap, the Flyers now have $51 million committed to next season’s cap and with a salary cap of around $64 million set for next season that’s more than enough space to get Bryzgalov and Voracek signed as well as having flexibility to add elsewhere. It’s an unreal more for Flyers GM Paul Holmgren to free up this kind of cap space and a gutsy one as well as both Carter and Richards were beloved in Philly as well as being their top two centers. Now that role shifts to Giroux to lead the way up the middle.
For the Kings they’ve got their second center in Richards and with a potential trade of Ryan Smyth elsewhere, they’ll have to be a bit more active in the free agent market this summer to help give the team some depth. Giving up Schenn is a move that will keep eyes on the Kings and on Schenn’s progress in his career.
The Montreal Canadiens are doing their best to beef up their blueline before the trade deadline is up. Their most recent acquisition is former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel, whom the Habs acquired along with Nigel Dawes in a trade that sent Ben Maxwell and their fourth round pick to the Atlanta Thrashers. Sopel joins Paul Mara as the team’s recent defensive acquisitions, costing them a fourth and five round pick separate trades.
Sopel is in the last season of a deal that registers a $2.33 million salary cap hit. He is a rugged defenseman who had some shaky years in Chicago (only 23 games played in 2008-09, less than 15 minutes per game last season) only to become a difference maker in their playoff run, with his time on ice jumping more than three minutes (18:30) in that Cup chase.
Dawes has been passed around the league quite a bit lately, going from Phoenix to the Rangers to Calgary and Atlanta since March 2009. He only played nine games with Atlanta this season, spending most of his season with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.
Ben Maxwell hasn’t registered a point in his 20 career games with Montreal, so Dawes and Maxwell probably more or less negate each other as marginal-at-best NHL players. Both will likely spend most of their time in the AHL for the rest of the season, although Maxwell might have more potential in the long term.
Is this move a sign that the Thrashers are at least in moderate sell mode? Ultimately Atlanta sacrificed some depth for a fourth round pick, which is basically a shoulder shrug move.