A month has passed since the Philadelphia Flyers wild start to the 2011 offseason. Since that time, the moves that GM Paul Holmgren made have resulted in a number of mixed reactions.
While the totality of the offseason certainly leaves questions for the upcoming season, each move can be analyzed in its singularity. Holmgren's report card is based on the value and impact of each major decision.
For more than a decade, the knock on Philadelphia's most-loved sports franchise has been the lack of a proven starting goaltender who is undoubtedly capable of carrying the team to the Stanley Cup.
This weakness was the first area addressed by Holmgren, as he traded AHL player Matt Clackson and a third round draft pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov was then signed to a nine-year contract worth $51 million. The average cap hit is $5.667 million per season. By no means was this a bargain; it is the 6th-highest cap hit of all NHL goalies. (Source: CapGeek).
Comparable players around Bryzgalov's age include Ryan Miller, Niklas Backstrom and Roberto Luongo, who carry $6.25 million, $6.0 million and $5.33 million cap hits, respectively.
Bryzgalov is appropriately priced.
Though there were cheaper options, Bryzgalov was undoubtedly the best goalie available in terms of skill and age. Realistically, the Flyers could not have solved the issue in a better way this summer.
This move depends on whether or not Brayden Schenn turns out to be what he's made out to be.
If Schenn really is hockey's top prospect, this move deserves an "A" grade. Schenn looked great during the Flyers' prospect camp, and scored a hat trick in the team's scrimmage.
Schenn's playing style is (ironically) compared to that of Mike Richards. He is touted to be an all-around player who can score, play well defensively, and even drops the gloves occasionally like Richards used to enjoy doing.
Richards had a stellar 2008-09 season, scoring 30 goals and 50 points while being narrowly beat out by Pavel Datsyuk for the Frank Selke trophy as the league's top defensive forward.
However, Richards has not come close to that total since, plays with less heart, and seems to have become complacent. He's not the same player he was when Philadelphia slapped a "C" on his jersey.
In addition to a possible slot-in replacement with Schenn, the Flyers grabbed Wayne Simmonds, who has played like a Flyer his whole career.
Despite weighing just 180 pounds, Simmonds is a ferocious power-forward. Consider him a smaller, less-skilled version of Rick Tocchet. In addition to contributing 40+ points next season, Simmonds will drop his gloves several times.
Holmgren absolutely robbed the Blue Jackets with this trade.
In their first three seasons, Carter and Voracek have produced an identical amount of points: Voracek produced 134 points, Carter had 132. Though Carter played 20 fewer games, he was also two years older at that point.
Now, the Flyers have picked up a winger who totaled 50 points as a 20-year-old. Carter wasn't even in the NHL at that point in his life. Voracek could very well turn out to be a more productive offensive force than Carter.
Furthermore, Voracek does not have an incredibly frustrating tendency to miss wide open nets and blow offensive opportunities with missed chances.
As if Voracek wasn't enough compensation for Sea Isle Jeff, Columbus practically gave Philadelphia the 8th overall pick in this year's entry draft.
Holmgren selected a 6' 4" center who weighs 190 pounds and is sure to develop into one of the league's most effective, sizable power forwards.
Sean Couturier was once considered a candidate for the first overall pick, but his stock dropped when the 18-year old developed mononucleosis, causing his playing ability to suffer.
The Flyers need players who utilize size well, evidenced by the lack thereof in this year's sweep at the hands of a larger Boston Bruins team.
If the 18-year-old Couturier adds more muscle to his frame, he will be a force in the NHL. A few years down the road, with Couturier, Simmonds, and James van Riemsdyk the Flyers could be seeing Legion of Doom II.
Darroll Powe was an effective penalty killer and forechecker for the Flyers who Holmgren called one of the league's most "under-appreciated guys." With just a $725,000 salary, Powe was a valuable and inexpensive 4th line player.
Holmgren traded the free agent for a third round draft pick in 2013. The cause of the trade is likely the $300,000 raise Powe desired this offseason.
What makes this move somewhat acceptable is that Holmgren has a replacement.
Powe's replacement as a lower-line forward who will be used on the penalty kill is Max Talbot.
Signed for five years with a $1.75 million cap hit, Talbot costs $750,000 more than Powe. Though he is a helpful presence in the locker room and regarded as a quality teammate, it's difficult to understand why Holmgren would pay so much for that role.
Lower-line players who play well defensively such as Powe or Ian Laperriere typically cost around $1 million or less.
Jaromir Jagr is still capable of scoring more than 40 points in the NHL. He is a proven leader as a two-time NHL captain, and gives the Flyers much-needed size as a 240-pound forward.
However, at $3.3 million, it's easy to wonder if Philadelphia could have utilized the money more effectively.
Consider Simon Gagne's contract with the Los Angeles Kings: worth $7 million over two years, it carries a cap hit just $0.2 higher than Jagr's.
There is no player in the NHL Philadelphia has a stronger emotional attachment to than Gagne. Despite having an injury history, the winger is just 30 years old, a terrific teammate, and proven playoff performer.
It would have been a gamble to sign Gagne, but not as much of a risk as signing Jagr.
No. 68 will have to live up to the expectations or Philadelphia will be quick to give him the negative reinforcement that fans have gained a reputation for delivering.
The only drawback to letting Ville Leino sign with another team is that it breaks up the Flyers' most effective scoring line from this past season.
However, Leino's six-year contract at an average of $4.5 million per season is a ridiculously high price.
Leino is being given $27 million despite being a 27-year old who has had one season scoring more than 15 points. This contract comes out to paying Leino $0.9 million for every regular season NHL goal he's scored so far.
No career 30-goal scorer is worth as much money as the Buffalo Sabres are paying him.
In addition to this frivolity, there are a number of frustrating drawbacks to Leino's play that make his departure easy to deal with.
He is not as skilled at puckhandling as he needs to be to execute the plays he attempts; he is often either knocked off the puck or loses control before being able to form a scoring opportunity.
Furthermore, Leino's severe resistance to shooting the puck caused many chances to be squandered without even an attempt at the net. He's been known to not shoot the puck despite being wide open.
Sean O'Donnell was an effective sixth defenseman for the Flyers during the 2010-2011 season while playing on a pair with Philadelphia's Barry Ashbee Trophy (team's best defenseman) winner Andrej Meszaros.
Unfortunately, the 39-year old showed signs of fatigue and wear during the postseason, and totaled a minus-two plus/minus over 11 games.
Unfortunate drawbacks from losing O'Donnell are his locker room presence and ability to defend teammates on the ice. Regardless, these extra bonuses do not make up for the lack of playing skill O'Donnell showed during the later stages of the season.
Nothing special here; Lilja is a direct replacement for O'Donnell as a sixth defenseman who carries playoff experience and a veteran presence.
Lilja is also a large player at 6' 3" 220lbs, but is far less experienced and therefore quite awful in the fighting department.
In 54 games with the Anaheim Ducks last season, Lilja scored one goal with six assists, and totaled a -15 plus/minus; by far his worst NHL season.
Two seasons ago with the Detroit Red Wings, Lilja scored two goals with 11 assists and a +13 rating in 60 games.
Four years younger than O'Donnell, the Flyers hope he can be a similar player without the late-season breakdown.
Dan Carcillo was acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers as one of the league's most ferocious middleweight fighters. He led the league in penalty minutes and was not yet hated by every hockey fan outside of Philadelphia.
At first, Philadelphia loved "Carbomb" for his Broad Street Bullies style of play. However, the memorable moments began to fade as Carcillo played with less intensity and essentially became useless on the ice.
Carcillo is a competent enough skater to be an effective forechecker, and is capable of contributing to the game by his abilities with the gloves off, but the negative aspects of his play were outweighing the benefits.
In 57 games, Carcillo scored four goals with two assists, gathered a -14 plus/minus and 127 penalty minutes. This was a clear drop from the player who scored 22 points in the 2009-2010 season.
Despite his ability to occasionally draw penalties, the reputation he carries on the ice leads to referees calling soft penalties on him.
With both Powe and Carcillo gone, the Flyers need a replacement for the fourth line's right winger. The line is typically used by Laviolette as a physical force, so using a player like Andreas Nodl on it simply doesn't make sense.
AHL wrecking ball Zac Rinaldo made a statement in the Flyers' prospect scrimmage by running over everyone. If Rinaldo makes the NHL team next season, the rest of the league will have a new Flyer to hate, and Philadelphia will have another fan favorite.
"Boosh" was admired in Philadelphia despite being a backup-caliber goaltender. After the signing of Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers will use Sergei Bobrovsky as a backup.
The 34-year-old Boucher signed with the Carolina Hurricanes as Cam Ward's backup.
Without a roster spot available, it only made sense to let him go.
The acquisition of Versteeg at the trade deadline seemed like an excellent trade, as the Flyers solidified their offensive depth with a Stanley Cup champion two-way forward capable of scoring more than 50 points in a season.
Unfortunately, Versteeg was a disaster in Philadelphia; his production dropped drastically despite being traded from a non-playoff team to a Stanley Cup contender.
In his first 53 games with Toronto, Versteeg paired 14 points with 21 goals for a total of 35 points.
Had that production continued in Philadelphia, Versteeg should have contributed 18 points in the 27 regular season games he played with the Flyers. However, he scored seven goals and assisted just four others.
The incompetent winger was not worth the first round draft pick given up for him. Dumping his salary and futility on the Florida Panthers was an excellent decision.
Signing Nikolay Zherdev before this past season was a questionable and risky decision; the locker room disease was regarded as lazy and selfish.
Zherdev proved his critics to be correct with a nonchalant playing style.
The winger's strategy on the ice was as simple as;
- Drift around aimlessly until teammates gain possession of puck.
- Call for pass.
- Ignore all open players in an attempt to deke by and skate around the entire opposing team.
- Shoot regardless of how well of a scoring opportunity is present.
- Either blow the opportunity and go back to step one, or score a goal and celebrate alone.
It takes a selfish player to score 16 goals and only record six assists. Zherdev began playing a harder and more complete game in the playoffs, but nobody can be sure what type of player he would be next season.
Philadelphia is better off without this inconsistent waste of a roster spot.