Simon Gagne Trade Makes Little Sense for Flyers

Bob CunninghamSenior Analyst IJuly 19, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 18:  Simon Gagne #12  of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts after defeating the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 3-0 to win Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wachovia Center on May 18, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As everyone has been expecting, the Flyers pulled the trigger and traded away their longest-tenured player in Simon Gagne. But in an unexpected twist, the Flyers recieved next to nothing in return for a player who played such a large role in their recent Stanley Cup push.

They traded Gagne away to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and in return received defenseman Matt Walker and a 2011 fourth-round draft pick. So in a move that was supposedly made to free up cap space, why exactly did they trade for a guy scheduled to make $1.7 million per season over the next three years?

"This was a move to solidify our defense," said Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren. "Matt Walker is a right shot defenseman that we like. He brings size, grit and toughness to our backend."

So they traded for a defenseman to sure up their defense. Thanks a lot, Paul.

But that still doesn't answer the question as to why they'd pick up his contract when they're so strapped for cap space. Trading Gagne away was supposed to alleviate that, but now all they've done is perhaps come closer to breaking even.

However, as Sam Carchidi of points out, the move likely isn't complete.

"GM Paul Holmgren received lots of criticism after the trade was announced," Carchidi writes, "but the deal cannot be judged until the next domino falls."

Clearly Carchidi believes Holmgren will deal one of the dozen or so defensemen the Flyers have acquired as of late in return for a legitimate scoring threat to replace Gagne.

If he is able to pull that off, then the tone of the next article will be a lot more positive. However, until then, this looks like an absolute misfire on Holmgren's part. If you're going to trade away one of the most popular players on the team, you had better have a sound plan to replace him.

But, it hasn't been a complete loss, because at least one party is happy about the move.

"My initial reaction was pure excitement," said Walker after finding out he'd been traded to the Flyers. "To find out that I was coming to Philly, I don’t know if I would say it was a life-long dream, but I’ve always wanted to play in Philly and I thought I would be a good fit there."

Walker had better be right about being a good fit, otherwise he's going to be forever remembered as "that bum we got for Gagne." But at least he'd be able to join Holmgren as "that bum who traded away Gagne."