Friday, November 7, 2008

Flyers hope to shore up defense with acquisition of Matt Carle

The Flyers are one of the best offensive teams in the NHL this season, scoring 3.67 goals per game, tying them for the highest average in the NHL. Their big problem, and the real reason they have started so slow this season, has been their defense. Since the injuries to Randy Jones and Ryan Parent, the Flyers have been playing with a makeshift defensive group that includes two guys who shouldn't be regulars in the NHL in Steve Eminger and Andrew Alberts. GM Paul Holmgren knew he couldn't sit around and wait until Jones and Parent got healthy so he made a big move today that should go a long way towards fixing their defensive woes.

The Flyers acquired defenseman Matt Carle and a third round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Steve Downie, Steve Eminger and a fourth round pick. Carle, a former Hobey Baker Award winner, is a 24 year old defenseman who has played four years in the NHL, most of them with the San Jose Sharks. He has great upside and is a huge upgrade over Eminger. Carle hasn't shown a lot of consistency while playing with the Sharks and Lightning, but he is strong with the puck and won't turn it over as much as Eminger.

Losing Downie won't hurt the Flyers much in the long run. Downie is a complete headcase at this point and has been jerked between the Phantoms and the Flyers so much I doubt he knows what's going on. Ever since his meltdown in the playoffs last season, Downie has been a liability and can't be trusted to make the smart play on the ice. He was never going to amount to much in Philadelphia so maybe a chance of scenery will do him good in Tampa.

Eminger was acquired this past offseason for a first round pick but never really proved he was worth that price. Like Carle, he's been inconsistent, but I don't see enough in his game to fret over his loss.

The move puts the Flyers right up against the cap. Eminger and Downie made a combined 2 million while Carle is nearly a 3.5 million dollar cap hit. Carle is under contract through the 2011-2012 season, another reason to like the deal if he plays to his ability. Making this deal does not rule out the possibility of Brendan Shanahan from signing with the team, in fact it clears up a forward spot. The Flyers would have to make some sort of move to clear up more cap space, but Shanny could be a Flyer yet.

Overall, I like this deal. The Flyers get rid of a pair of underachieving players and bring in a young defenseman who can solidify the back end. Hopefully this can begin to fix the goals against problem and the Flyers can get back to their winning ways. If it doesn't, I expect more drastic moves to follow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hate to lose someone with Downie's potential, but it's pretty clear he won't work out under Stevens. Would have been nice to see how he would have turned out with a semi decent coach actually coaching him, instead of baking cakes. After all this is a player who once was compared to a young Bobby Clarke. Hopefully this one won't come back to haunt us 3 years down the line.

As for Carle, he's the NHL 09 video game, but then again so was Claude Vilgraine back in the day. =P This guy scares me to be honest, he has a lot of potential, but Stevens just doesn't seem to bring out a players potential. I'm afraid we might get stuck with yet another underperforming Defensemen with a hefty contract. I hope I'm wrong.