Vincent Lecavalier Signing Puts Paul Holmgren on the Hot Seat in Philadelphia

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IJuly 4, 2013

PHILADELPHIA - JULY 06: (L-R) Flyers General Manager, Paul Holmgren and Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers talk with the media during his first press conference as a Philadelphia Flyer at Flyer's Skate Zone on July 6, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

It's now been a couple days since the announcement of Vincent Lecavalier signing with the Philadelphia Flyers, and it has finally sunk in that he will wear No. 40 in the orange and black for the next five years.

Even though the deal itself has sunk in, questions still remain about what it really means for the Flyers, Lecavalier and GM Paul Holmgren. 

For the Flyers, they get a big, experienced center who will come in and be a much-needed leader on and off the ice. Lecavalier gets to play in a major hockey market and the chance to thrive with less of a workload on the second line.

But what about Holmgren? That answer is a little more complicated, and a lot more pessimistic.

He has steered the team into a strange place. They seemed like a team building for the future two summers ago when they traded away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

And right now their plethora of young talent is impressive. Steve Mason, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson are all 25 or younger.

They also have a few good young prospects in their system. Scott Laughton, Nick Cousins, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, Shayne Gostisbehere and Anthony Stolarz all have the upside to be very good NHL players. 

Kimmo Timonen looked like the last player in the changing of the guard, especially once it became expected that Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov would be bought out.

Personally, I expected the Flyers to sign a veteran or two after the buyouts, just to fill in for some depth, then use some of the extra money to lock up Giroux, Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Couturier to long-term deals.

I thought that swinging a deal for a top defenseman could be in the works too, but was mostly thinking that they were going to save some cap space and see what happened over the next 12 months while letting their young talent mature.

But then Holmgren went and traded for, then subsequently signed, Mark Streit, an interesting and somewhat questionable deal in of itself.

Signing a 35-year-old who plays an extremely similar game to your current top defenseman to a four-year, $5.25 million per-year deal seems unwise to me.

But they had the room, and Streit was a definite improvement at a position where they struggled this past season, so it was somewhat understandable.

Then Holmgren went and upped his own ante, making the second big splash of free agency by signing Lecavalier.

The 33-year-old Lecavalier brings so much to the table that it's hard to knock the deal, since he really is the kind of player you want on your team.

But one could easily wonder if Holmgren is repeating the mistakes he erased with the buyouts.

Did he not learn his lesson about signing older, past-their-prime players to long-term, big-money deals?

Investing almost $10 million per year in a 33- and 35-year-old can really only mean one thing: Holmgren is unfortunately being impatient as usual and wants to win now.

By doing this, Holmgren has essentially put his remaining eggs in the Lecavalier/Streit basket, so to speak. 

With his previous track record, like the Bryzgalov signing, Bobrovsky trade, Pavel Kubina trade, and failed Kris Versteeg swap, Holmgren's leash should have been pretty short regardless.

Something that has been overlooked (conceding that it was unlucky that he got hurt) is the Chris Pronger trade (Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul, and two first-round picks) is really hurting the Flyers. Holmgren took a big gamble, didn't win the cup and is now paying the price.

If things don't look good after this season, and Streit and Lecavalier aren't pulling their weight, there would be no other choice than to pull the plug on Holmgren at GM.

Unfortunately, he has put that burden on himself this offseason.