After numerous rumors of Philadelphia Flyers forward Simon Gagne heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings, and everywhere in between, Simon Gagne has been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth-round draft pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Gagne, scheduled to make $5.25 million for the upcoming 2010-11 season, scored 17 goals and added 23 assists for a total of 40 points through 58 games with the Flyers last season. It is widely accepted that Gagne was sent packing by the Flyers due to salary cap concerns, not for his lack of effort or injury woes.
Originally drafted by the Flyers in the first round (22nd overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Gagne had spent his entire ten year career with the Flyers, scoring 259 goals and adding 265 assists for a total of 524 points in 664 career NHL games.
Gagne scored 30 or more goals on four occasions with the Flyers, including a career-high 47-goal effort in 2005-06 and a subsequent 41-goal effort in 2006-07.
Head injuries and concussions have conspired to limit Gagne’s play over the past few seasons, limiting his play to just 25 games in 2007-08 and 58 games in 2009-10.
Gagne will be joining an impressive roster in Tampa that already includes the likes of Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Steve Downie, and perhaps even the Lighning’s first-round selection in this year's NHL Entry Draft, Brett Connolly.
A line of Stamkos, St. Louis, and Gagne would be one of the NHL’s most intimidating trios. As long as Gagne can stay healthy (which is 70/30 at best), he can expect to see plenty of ice time and now has the opportunity to reach the 40-goal plateau for the third time in his career.
In Walker, the Flyers get a reliable stay-at-home defenseman who will come relatively cheap at $1.7 million per season for three years. Walker will also bring a bit of a physical element to the Orange and Black.
Walker, originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the third round (83rd overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, has played a total of 306 NHL games, scoring four goals and adding 26 assists for a total of 30 career points.
As a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Walker played 66 games, scoring twice and adding three assists for a total of five points while averaging just over 16 minutes of play per game. Walker led all Lightning defensemen with a total of 90 penalty minutes and had a paltry minus-11 rating.
With the addition of Gagne to their lineup, the Lightning now have a total of $47,834,416 committed to 17 players. Comparatively, the Flyers now have a total of $59,284,762 committed to 23 players with just over $1 million in cap room with which to shore up the lineup.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman will now turn his attention to shoring up his blueline, which, as it stands now, has just four players under contract: Pavel Kubina, Mattias Ohlund, Victor Hedman, and Brett Clark.
The Lightning now feature one of the NHL’s well-paid top five forwards, with Stamkos, Lecavalier, St. Louis, Gagne, and Ryan Malone expected to account for just under $26.5 million in cap room next season.
Until next time,
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