Claude Giroux's Signing May Spell the End of the Line for Jeff Carter

Mark RitterSenior Writer INovember 9, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 14:  Claude Giroux #28 and Jeff Carter #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers talk during a timeout against the Buffalo Sabres on November 14, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

With the news of Claude Giroux’s three-year $11,250,000 contract hitting the airwaves today, many Philadelphia Flyer fans are jumping for joy.

At just 22 years old, Giroux is quickly establishing himself as a legitimate NHL super star. Averaging just under a point a game this season (seven goals, seven assists in 15 games), Giroux looks poised to destroy his 2009-10 totals which saw him post 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 82 games.

As much as the 2009-10 regular season is viewed as Giroux’s coming out party, the 2009-10 playoffs in which Giroux scored 10 goals and 21 points in 23 playoff games let everyone in hockey know that this 22-year-old kid was and is the real deal.

Giroux’s new contract looks to be an extremely affordable one that, if Giroux continues to develop, should turn out to be a steal.

That said, as good as Giroux’s deal appears to be for the Flyers, it may end up costing them the services of one or more of their current roster players, maybe even Jeff Carter.

As it stands right now the Flyers have a total of $52,313,096 (all numbers courtesy of dedicated to 17 players in 2011-12. Given the current cap ceiling of $59,400,000, that leaves the Flyers just over $7 million with which to fill out their roster, which will be tricky to say the least.

Complicating matters even further is the fact that the Flyers have a total of four unrestricted free agents to consider next summer, and another four restricted free agents to consider re-signing as well.

Of those UFAs, Ville Leino would seem to be the team's top priority, and, given last season’s playoff performance and subsequent start to the 2010-11 season, he will command a big raise from the $800,000 he is currently making.

Of those other UFAs, goaltender Brian Boucher and defenseman Sean O’Donnell will likely move on, while forward Nikolai Zherdev will be evaluated at season’s end (but who will likely move on as well).

When it comes to the RFAs, forward Jeff Carter would seem to be the most likely candidate to be re-signed, but with a cap hit of $5 million it would have to be at a discounted price, which is unlikely to happen.

Fan favorite Daniel Carcillo will also be looking for a raise, while Darroll Powe and Andreas Nodl will likely move on.

Criticized for what many Flyers fans perceived as a sub-par season in 2009-10, Carter still managed to light the lamp a total of 33 times, good enough for 15th overall.

Carter followed up an injury-filled 2009-10 regular season with a very average playoff, scoring five goals and posting seven points in twelve injury-filled games played.

Through it all Carter has played through the injuries, always held his head high, done his best to stay out of the Flyers fans' wrath and, to the contrary of a lot of Flyers' and NHL fans' beliefs, is still one of the elite goal-scorers on the planet.

With goal-scoring totals of 33 in 2009-10, 46 in 2008-09 and 29 in 2007-08, Carter has already proven that he is an elite scorer; the question is, as good as he is, are the Flyers going to be willing to sign him to another four to five year, $20-$25 million contract?

Don’t forget, Carter is just 25 years old and, given his accomplishments and goal totals, $5 million per year is about right, if not a little low for a player of his caliber.

The hometown discount may come into play here, but let’s face it: Carter is not going to settle for much less than $5 million per season, is he? Not at 25 years old, not with his history of success.

Do the math. If Carter does command another $5 million (or more) in salary the Flyers will lose his services—it’s just that simple, isn’t it?

There is no question that Flyers fans would rather see the likes of forward Scott Hartnell ($4.2 million cap hit through 2012-13) or defenseman Braydon Coburn ($3.2 million cap hit through 2011-12) traded in favor of making room for Carter’s return—but that’s not likely to happen.

Neither is the trading of forward Daniel Briere who, with a cap hit of $6.5 million through 2014-15, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon—not with the salary cap the way it is, not with the injury risk Briere is attached to (not to mention that pesky no-trade clause Briere has).

More likely, Carter will end up being the odd man out; Carter will be traded at some point in the season or over the summer.

As far as suitors go, the list is endless. Who doesn’t want a 25-year-old player with good character that can score you thirty-plus goals for the next five to 10 years in their lineup?

With so little cap space and a growing need to bring in cheaper players, Carter doesn’t seem to stand a chance of remaining a long-term member of the Orange and Black—that is, unless Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren can pull off some kind of miracle, which seems unlikely.

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