Flyers Upgrade Ferocity at Deadline

Victor FiloromoCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2009

With just minutes to go until the 2009 NHL trade deadline, the players expecting to be moved were still on the trade table. Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jay Bouwmeester of the Florida Panthers, and Derek Morris of the Phoenix Coyotes were still on their respective teams with just under a half hour to go until the deadline.

Then, a funny thing happened. The trades came fast and furious, with announcements coming past the deadline and well into the early-evening. No, the Philadelphia Flyers may not have acquired the prize catch in Bouwmeester, or even the runner-up in Morris, but they bolstered their lineup with a tough defenseman and a tougher forward.

Enter winger Daniel Carcillo, dealt from Phoenix this afternoon to the Flyers for Scottie Upshall and a 2011 second round pick. It may be tough for fans to deal with the loss of Upshall, a fan favorite who had seven goals and 14 assists this season. However, the Flyers are acquiring one of the fan favorites from Phoenix in Carcillo, a tough guy with a reputation to worry more about fisticuffs than scoring.

Carcillo has three goals and seven assists this season, but has stacked up 174 penalty minutes. He had 324 penalty minutes last season, but tallied 13 goals and 11 assists in the 2007-2008 campaign. He is sure to become an instant fan favorite with Flyers fans, thanks to his blue collar work ethic and ability to drop the gloves with anyone.

It is now obvious that Bouwmeester will not be in the Flyers' immediate plans. Throughout the day, questions surrounded the 24-year-old, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. The Panthers decided to hold onto their stud defenseman in hopes of making a playoff run, even though they may lose him in July on the free agent market. 

Without Bouwmeester and Morris as viable options, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren turned his attention toward San Jose and acquired veteran defenseman Kyle McLaren from the Sharks. McLaren, 31, was exiled to San Jose's AHL affiliate in Worcester before the season began to accommodate newcomers Dan Boyle, Brad Lukowich, and Rob Blake under the salary cap.

McLaren carries a $2.5 million cap hit, but will not hurt the Flyers, as he will suit up and play for the Phantoms. However, McLaren provides insurance for the Flyers and may see time on defense in the playoffs, when they can call him up and fit him under cap.

So, financially, how does this all shake down for the Flyers? Upshall's $1.225 million cap hit is now removed from the roster. Carcillo is signed for next season at a cap hit of $894,000, saving the Flyers some much needed space under the cap. This would allow them to have a more flexible roster heading into the playoffs, allowing them at least one call-up such as Jared Ross or Josh Gratton if need be. As of last night, the Flyers had no wiggle room to have even one healthy scratch traveling with the team.

Upshall, a restricted free agent at the end of the season, would have required a raise, and may have received an offer sheet from another team, which could have driven up the price even more. According to Holmgren, the motivation behind the deal for Carcillo was influenced by the Flyers needing to get under the salary cap.

In the end, the Flyers, quite frankly, made moves today that were influenced by the salary cap era. In the past, these types of deals may not have gone down. The Flyers may have lost a fan favorite in Upshall, but Carcillo will most certainly soon be in the good graces of the Philadelphia faithful.