Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Flyers trade Upshall, get worse at the Deadline

Most contending teams in the NHL use the Trade Deadline as a time to improve their team by adding players that can help them make a run at the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are usually one of the more aggressive teams at the Deadline but this season they were hindered because they were right up against the salary cap. Philly still made a couple of moves, unfortunately, it leaves the team worse than they were a day before.

The Flyers made a pair of trades today: they acquired winger Dan Carcillo from the Phoenix Coyotes for Scottie Upshall and a 2nd round pick and they also acquired defenseman Kyle McLaren from the Sharks for a 6th round pick. Both moves are head scratchers and make it seem like the Flyers had another deal in the works that didn't pan out.

The Upshall trade is especially frustrating. While not a top line player, Scottie Upshall is a ball of energy on the ice and he's a perfect third line player. Carcillo is also a hard-nosed player, but he is much slower than Upshall and is pretty much just a hockey goon who leads the NHL in penalty minutes with 174. At first glance, this trade is ridiculous because the Flyers essentially traded a 3rd line player for a 4th line player, and threw in a 2nd round pick on top of that.

However, there was more behind this move than that. By moving Upshall, who makes 1.2 million, and getting Carcillo, who makes 900,000, the Flyers freed up some cap space so they can have some wiggle room to move players up and down when injuries occur. This move keeps the Flyers from having to send Claude Giroux down again if they need another defenseman.

On top of creating more cap space, the Flyers were also happy to get anything for Upshall, who is a restricted free agent at the end of the year and was likely to sign elsewhere. The Flyers wouldn't have had enough cap space to give Upshall a decent contract offer.

The second move of the day for the Flyers also raises more questions. McLaren is a big, strong defenseman who was a good player in his prime. Unfortunately, he has spent the entire season in the AHL and has a 2.5 million dollar contract. The Flyers will have McLaren report to the Phantoms and it's very likely that he will never play a game with the big club. If the Flyers do choose to call up McLaren at some point, he would have to pass through waivers and then the team would have to figure out a way to shed some salary. McLaren could be on the Flyers playoff roster, but he is essentially emergency depth should one of the top 6 defenseman go down.

There were rumors after the deadline that the Flyers had another trade in the works, but it looks like those talks fell through. It seems like GM Paul Holmgren took a step to clear away some salary for another trade but couldn't quite pull it off. There was plenty of speculation about Jay Bouwmeester coming to Philly, but it never materialized.

The sad fact now is that the Flyers team that takes the ice for the next game isn't as good as the Flyers team that played against Boston on Tuesday. Philly was forced to make a move to give the team more flexibility, it's just too bad that it had to take losing a solid player. While you can't fault Holmgren for making these moves today, you can blame Homer for getting the Flyers in this salary mess in the first place. He tried to play a game with the salary cap and he failed. That's especially clear when you look at the list of Flyers that have been jettisoned since the return of Daniel Briere: Glen Metropolit, Ossi Vaananen and Scottie Upshall. Essentially, those three players were traded for Dan Carcillo, and that's depressing. While none of those guys are top line players, you need some of those bit players to help the team when you make a Stanley Cup run.

The Flyers were fortunate to be able to keep their core of young players on the team but only time will tell if they will get enough support from the few remaining role players to make another run deep into the playoffs.


Anonymous said...

This is soooo true.This was a bad trade and I feel so bad for Upshall cause he really liked playing here in Philly and didn't wanna go anywheres..We love and miss Upshall!! He will be missed by the Flyers since he brought so much energy and emotion to the game.


Anonymous said...

see what happens when you blow your wad on an undersized, injury-prone player who's career +/- is lower than a January evening in Saskatchewan. oh, wait, who left last night's game with ANOTHER injury, I much does his salary count against the cap? Great pickup Homer!


Anonymous said...

How's the trade working out now?