Thoughts On Trading Upshall for Carcillo

The Frozen FanCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2009

From a few conversations and bit of surfing the blogs and boards, I’m sensing that Flyer fans dislike today’s trades.

That’s quite understandable. Scottie Upshall arrived as a bright ball of energy to a struggling club that had given up on the season. He gave the fans new life in a disappointing year. And ever since being benched late last season by John Stevens, the young forward presented highly motivated, speedy, mercurial efforts night in and night out. It’s hard not to miss him.

But there are some legitimate reasons behind Paul Holmgren’s actions today, ones that go deeper than a fan’s emotional attachment to a player.

Deadline deals for the Philadelphia Flyers always revolve around four factors:

1. Injuries
Everyone knows that the healthiest team is the one still standing with the Cup raised high in June. So if you’re entering the final stretch already injured, you’d better have a Plan B.

2. Goaltending
We’re talking about Philly hockey here. Do I really need to explain this one?

3. Money
In the pre-cap world, deadlines belonged to the wealthy, and Ed Snider knew how to finance a strong acquisition. In the cap era, teams spend more time contemplating money management rather than pure expenditure.

4. Grit
The Broad Street Bullies earned that moniker the hard way. And there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Mr. Snider intends to keep it.

With the Flyers’ health finally intact, number one can be crossed off the list. As to goaltending, that will take more than a mere blog to analyze. Like I said, we’re talking Philly here.

So it comes down to two things: money and grit. The cap implications of this deal are clear. Upshall makes $1.225 and Carcillo makes about $875,000. This trade shaves $400,000 off the Flyers’ payroll—a seemingly small amount, but enough to allow them to bring up a spare player like Jared Ross or Nate Guenin without dropping Claude Giroux or Darroll Powe.

It also gives the Flyers a little extra wiggle room when it comes time to sign a goaltender this summer, or when they need to further trim cap for the 2010-11 season.

That leaves us with grit. Regardless of what my fellow blogger might contend over at Broad Street Hockey, the line of Upshall-Giroux-Briere was not particularly successful. While they had speed and the ability to move the puck well, that trio lacked the size and strength to be effective against the strong checking power of the Bruins.

None of them could create any havoc in front of the net, a key component Stevens likes to have on every line. And so it was that Stevens shook up his lines by the second period.

Carcillo delivers a greater physical presence to the Flyers’ bottom six. That’s an understatement, really, considering that the kid led the entire league in penalty minutes during the 2007-08 season. His 324 PIMs outdid number 2 Jared Boll by nearly 100 minutes. No wonder Homer predicts he’ll be a fan favorite. :)

I grasp the intellectual reasoning behind this trade, but I won’t say I’m a huge fan. I genuinely enjoy Scottie Upshall, both for his high energy style of play and his consistent work ethic this year.

Once again he’s departing a playoff-bound group for another rebuilding team that likely won’t achieve a playoff berth, the disappointment of which I can only imagine.

I recall an episode of FlyerBuzz TV in which Upshall talked passionately about his belief that the current team had the type of bond that championship teams have. Yes, I know all players say that.

But from the look on his face, you could tell this wasn’t just another careless and rehearsed statement for an interview. Hopefully Upshall will find another such situation in Phoenix.

And hopefully the chemistry he believed in was not permanent disrupted today in Philadelphia.