Oh, would that shake things up even more.
After a revolution of trades and signings this offseason, the Philadelphia Flyers are retooled. Eight of the team's current 12 forwards are different players than the offense that suited up for last season's opening night.
Considering the recent history of the franchise, the possibility of another major trade seems fantastical.
However, trading the left winger of last season's top scoring line might be the most logical step for general manager Paul Holmgren to take next.
Scott Hartnell was acquired during the 2007 offseason along with Kimmo Timonen in a trade with the Nashville Predators. He signed a six-year, $25.2 million contract, which is set to expire after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.
Hartnell's cap hit is $4.2 million, the second-highest of any offensive player this season behind Danny Briere's $6.5 million.
This is an enormous cap hit for a player who has averages just 49 points per season. Comparatively, Claude Giroux's cap hit is a manageable $3.75 million. Giroux led the Flyers last season with 76 points.
With the roster moves made this summer, the forward lines were shaken up in a way that has Hartnell without his former linemates—Briere and Ville Leino.
Briere is now centering the second line with Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. Leino signed with the Buffalo Sabres this offseason.
Hartnell finds himself on the third line with rookies Sean Couturier and Matt Read. Through three games, he is averaging 11:13 of ice time this season. He has no goals and one assist.
Hartnell does not play on the power play or penalty kill. He will not come close to his average of 49 points per season by playing with two rookies on the third line.
Along with this lack of production comes the intensely negative side of Hartnell: the myriad of shorthanded situations he puts the team in.
Since joining the Flyers, Hartnell leads the NHL with 192 minor penalties.
Occasionally, Hartnell takes smart penalties in order to prevent scoring changes, or he finds himself in the box for roughing up an opponent during a scrum. Though Philadelphia loves physicality, nobody likes a player who consistently makes stupid decisions that can hurt his team.
After this season, the Flyers will have to deal with free agents Jake Voracek, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn and Jaromir Jagr. Additionally, James van Riemsdyk's salary raise will affect the cap starting in the 2012-13 season.
Philadelphia cannot afford to be wasting $4.2 million in cap space on a third-line player whose most notable asset is the ability to take penalties.
Hartnell has put up top-line production before, with a career high of 60 points. That could be enough of a reason for a team to take on his salary.
The biggest obstacles are finding a team willing to gamble on that production while dealing with his penalty minute totals. Additionally, Hartnell has a no-trade clause that he would have to waive.
If a move were made, it would likely not happen any time soon. However, with each passing game in the 2011-12 season, it becomes increasingly clear that there's just no room for Hartnell on the Flyers.
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