Philadelphia Flyers

NHL Breaking News: Analysis & Breakdown of Philadelphia Flyers' Trades & Signing

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 04:  Jeff Carter #17 and Mike Richards #18 of the Philadelphia Flyers handle the puck against Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Four of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Wachovia Center on June 4, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Mark JonesSenior Analyst IJune 23, 2011

Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has finally made his move.

After days of waiting and anticipating upcoming trades and over two weeks after acquiring the rights to goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes, the Flyers cleaned up their roster, removed the necessary cap space and locked down Bryzgalov for nine more years.

First, the Los Angeles Kings traded forwards Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Shenn, as well as their 2012 second-round draft pick, to get Mike Richards and Rob Bordson from the Flyers.

Twenty-six-year-old Richards, the former captain of Philly, hit the 80-point plateau in 2008-'09 and scored 23 goals and 66 total points this most recent season. Bordson, merely a depth signing, is 23 and played his first AHL action this year, registering a combined 24 points between the Anaheim Ducks' and Flyers' farm teams.

Despite accomplishing their main mission—dumping cap space—Philadelphia gets a quality player in Simmonds, just 22, who had 16 goals and 24 assists in '09-'10 and 14 goals and 16 assists in '10-'11. Despite his promising future, he was probably acquired simply for his RFA status this summer.

Shenn is quite a prize, any way you look at it, though; he was the fifth overall draft pick in the 2009 entry draft and saw eight NHL appearances this past year.

Just an hour later, the Flyers sent Jeff Carter in a long-awaited trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek, the eighth overall selection in Friday night's first round, and the Jackets' third round choice, No. 68 overall, on Saturday.

Carter is definitely the big fish in the pond of this deal. At age 26, he's a former first-round pick, as well, and carries some impressive career statistics: 46 goals and 38 assists in '08'-09, 33 goals and 21 assists in '09-'10, and 36 scores and 30 helpers this past season. He'll finally fill the role of a star first-line center in Columbus that franchise cornerstone Rick Nash has hoped for for so long.

Philadelphia merely acquires some pocket change, at least when compared to Carter, in Voracek, who is a previous first-round choice in his own right (seventh overall in 2007) but, in 241 games over the past three years (just five total appearances short of three consecutive full seasons), he has only 39 goals and 134 points. With Voracek a restricted free agent this summer, too, they might appreciate the two draft picks this weekend a bit more.

Finally, to cap off an extremely productive late afternoon, Holmgren finally inked Bryzgalov to a contract...and what a contract it is—nine years, $51 million.

Bryzgalov, who will carry the contract until he's 40, had carried the Phoenix Coyotes to quite unexpected back-to-back postseason qualifications, posting impressive 42-20-6 and 36-20-10 records over the past two seasons to go along with .920 and .921 save percentages, respectively, and 2.29 and 2.48 goals-against averages (GAA's), also respectively.

The deal that the Russian netminder wanted was only able to happen because of the two ensuing trades that freed up enough cap space for the mega-contract, which will carry a $5.6 million cap hit for each season.

Philadelphia, who went into the day with the least cap space in the league, freed up about $5.3 million in space with the trading of Carter, who had just signed an 11-year, $58 million deal earlier this offseason, and just less than $5.8 million with Richard's departure. He had agreed to a 12-year, $69 million contract in the summer of '08.

Despite the fact that Shenn's entry level deal adds a $3.1 million cap hit starting next fall, dropping over $11 million off the board allowed more than enough room to take on Bryzgalov's cap hit, and now leaves the Flyers with over $7.5 million in cap space left.

 

Analysis

The Flyers, in need of a reliable, solid goalie for what seems like an eternity, have found the answer to that question. They solved their cap space issue, also, in the process. Furthermore, they were able to possibly gain several young, talented players in the process.

But we still aren't that fond of their moves of the day.

Of course, we knew this day would come. While exciting and eventful, Thursday's trades were also to be, for the most part, expected.

Nevertheless, they come out losers in both trades. The Flyers did what they were trying to accomplish—lose a bunch of salary—but they never should've been in the grind in the first place.

Look, for example, at those two contracts to Carter and Richards; they're simply colossal. And, in fact, those two weren't the only ones with massive deals. 

Danny Briere will get $6.5 million over each of the next for years.  Scott Hartnell has a $4.2 million cap hit for '11-'12 and '12-'13. For Claude Giroux, it's $3.75 million for each of the next three seasons. Headed over to the defense, Kimmo Timmonen gets a whopping $6.3 million at least two more times on his current contract. In the case of Chris Pronger, he'll earn $5.9 for each of the next six years. And even for Andrej Meszaros, nine million bucks over three seasons deserves a second glance, too.

For most and perhaps all of those players, they're getting pretty close to what they deserve. However, from the standpoint of an NHL follower, not a Flyers fanatic, they simply have taken on too many quality players to be able to keep a balanced checkbook, so to say.

Even with the current $7.5 mil in space, it still won't be nearly enough. They have only nine forwards and six defensemen under contract at the moment. While the 'D' may be able to survive with those numbers, as long as they can stay out of injury trouble, a few more forwards are going to have to be signed.

Holmgren clearly wants to try to keep UFA Ville Leino around. If so, there's probably in the range of three million bucks a year. Voracek would expect something upwards of $2.0 million; likely, it's the same deal for Simmonds.

No cheap and young players will be on the free agent market—those are called RFA's—and they might not want to get back into the trade market again for a while. So, with keeping Leino, Voracek, and Simmonds possibly even breaking the bank on it's own, the Flyers are suddenly back in the no-cap-space-to-move hole.

Plus, there's that eighth overall pick to deal with. He might want to get in the NHL right away, if he's of that high of a caliber. For that, some more cash disappears yet again.

See where we're going with this?

We understand, Philadelphia. You did what you had to do; you got your goalie. The rest of the lineup is already so stacked, they'll be invincible even when you do have to add on Wade Belak to your third line. Forget another second round rematch with the Bruins; you'll be going all the way to the Cup this year!

But no, there is one problem! The salary cap demon has returned, and preyed on your beloved, super-loaded Flyers!

Well, maybe you should've stopped digging the hole at some point, because the endless merry-go-round, without much of the merry, of the modern day salary cap has taken aboard the Flyers for a while, and it might not set them free for at least a couple years.

 

Mark Jones is currently Bleacher Report's featured columnist for the NHL's  Carolina Hurricanes. In his two years so far with the site, he has written over 280 articles and received over 290,000 total reads.

Visit his profile to read more, or follow him on   Twitter.

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