At the time, it seemed like the Philadelphia Flyers overpaid Jaromir Jagr when they handed him a $3.3 million contract, but the brilliance of that deal was that it was for just one year. Of course, that’s also the problem now that it worked out: they have to re-sign the 40-year-old winger. Sam Carchidi floats an interesting nugget from “a source”: he’s not even their top off-season priority.
Instead, the team reportedly believes that inking defenseman Matt Carle is a bigger deal.
On its face, that might seem weird. After all, Jagr has been a smash-hit alongside Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux while Carle has his occasional defensive lapses. Yet there are a number of reasons why this stance makes a lot of sense.
- Carle is 27 while Jagr is 40-years-old.
- As great as Jagr has been, it’s logical to assume that other (possibly cheaper and younger) forwards could succeed on that line, too.
- With Chris Pronger likely out of the picture, Carle joins Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn as one of Philly’s most valuable defenseman. D is more of a need than offense for Philly.
- Jagr’s increasing age is also bringing about more incidents of injury. That’s unlikely to change as he gets even older (he’ll turn 41 next season).
- Also, from a “fan service” standpoint, Jagr’s not a long-time fixture. It’s not like they’d be the Anaheim Ducks letting Teemu Selanne walk.
That being said, the Flyers already invest a surprising amount of money in their up-and-down D corps. Here’s a look at the contracts they have under contract after this season (Pavel Kubina’s $3.85 million hit mercifully expires this summer).
Timonen: $6.33M (expires after 2012-13)
Pronger (might not count because of LTIR): $4.92M (expires in 2016-17)
Coburn: $4.5M (expires after 2015-16)
Andrej Meszaros: $4M (expires after 2013-14)
Nicklas Grossmann: $3.5 (expires after 2015-16)
Andreas Lilja: $737K (expires after 2012-13)
As you can see, the Flyers invest a lot in … everything, it seems. The thing is, Giroux’s amazing bargain ($3.75M per year through 2013-14) allows them to overpay in other areas.
GM Paul Holmgren might be able to squeeze both under the cap, but if it comes down to one or the other, word is he’ll go with Carle. After looking at all those factors, do you think that would be the right choice?
The Buffalo Sabres just announced that they re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani. The financial terms were not disclosed, but the amount couldn’t have been too high since the Sabres are already almost $4 million over the salary cap ceiling according to Cap Geek.
In a vacuum, it’s great news for the Sabres to re-sign the young offensive blueliner, who was voted the AHL’s defenseman of the year and then made an impact on the NHL-level last season (three points in nine regular season games and then seven points in the team’s seven-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers). Gragnani could be a big part of Buffalo having a much-improved defense next season after they also brought in Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr.
That being said, the Sabres now face two messes they will need to clean up because of this and other moves. The first is the most obvious: they need to unclog at least $4 million worth of cap space before the 2011-12 season begins. They might bury a salary or two in the AHL* and/or trade away a player or two. Jochen Hecht ($3.525 million cap hit) has been mentioned as a possible trade target because of his cap hit, expiring contract and the notion that he might be an odd man out with all of the team’s new hires.
Buffalo’s challenges extend beyond getting under the cap this summer
With all that focus on the immediate future, the one-year deal also underscores something that might be a problem for the Sabres: next off-season. They could experience some serious restricted free agent headaches in the summer of 2012, especially if Gragnani has a strong full season. Tyler Myers could cost a bundle of money to re-sign and Tyler Ennis is another promising young player who can earn himself some nice dough with a strong 2011-12 campaign.
The good news is that the Sabres will probably be able to keep who they want the most since they have a big chunk of aging players with expiring contracts. Buffalo has almost $50 million committed to 15 players for 2012-13, with some cap relief coming from the expiring contracts of Hecht, Brad Boyes ($4M), Ales Kotalik ($3M) and Paul Gaustad ($2.3M). The problem is that the Sabres’ big spending might force them to put a top-heavy team on the ice if the trio of Myers, Ennis and Gragnani end up breaking the bank.
Ultimately, the Sabres should celebrate the re-signing but also realize that they have a lot of work to do in the next month and then next off-season. It remains to be seen if their big spending will actually be worth it.
* = Hopefully Kotalik didn’t get too excited about playing in Buffalo again …
As Joe noted, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler will undergo back surgery soon. Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province caught up with his expected surgeon Dr. Marcel Dvorak, who said that he’s likely to miss 8-10 weeks.
It’s unclear if the injury will force Edler to miss any playoff time, as that window just about covers the rest of the regular season (and maybe a bit more). Gallagher also notes that Dvorak is the same doctor who operated on Daniel Sedin during the summer of 2001.
Edler’s injury adds an interesting wrinkle to the Canucks’ tight salary cap situation with injured defenseman Sami Salo. His cap hit is nearly identical ($3.25 million for Edler; $3.5 million for Salo), so in a strange way Edler’s injury might come at the same time. Of course, his eventual return could open up a new bag of worms and Salo could become injured again at any time, so don’t look at this as a “solution.”
Naturally, we’ll keep you updated on this situation as it develops.