NHL Speculation: Could the Flyers and Bruins Hook Up in an Offseason Trade?

Mark RitterSenior Writer IMarch 30, 2010

BOSTON - JANUARY 06:  Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins makes a save under pressure from Mike Knuble #22 and Simon Gagne #12 of the Philadelphia Flyers on January 6, 2007 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Flyers 4-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Written By: Mark “The Hard Hitter” Ritter

Given the Philadelphia Flyers' salary cap restrictions it will be tough for them to land a goalie via free agency this summer. In fact, landing a goaltender like unrestricted free agents Evgeni Nabokov, Marty Turco, Jose Theodore, Chris Mason, or perhaps even Ray Emery will be next to impossible.

Sure, there are quite a few “average” free agent goaltenders available next season (Dan Ellis, Marty Biron, Alex Auld, Vesa Toskala), but the Flyers have already lived the nightmare that is signing second-rate goalies and paid the price. Simply put, the Flyers cannot make the same mistake again; they need to get a solid goalie next season.

Perhaps the best way for the Flyers to address their goaltending woes will be to entertain a trade with another club—perhaps the Boston Bruins?

The Bruins have watched Tukka Rask emerge as their No. 1 goalie this season, making veteran goaltender Tim Thomas all but expendable. While it is always tough for teams in the same conference to make a trade, one has to think that the Bruins and Flyers could help each other.

Let’s face it; the Bruins have their own set of salary cap issues, Thomas being one of them. Fresh off his Vezina-winning season, Thomas signed a four-year $20 million deal with the Bruins, which, at the time, seemed like a pretty decent pact.

Thomas is scheduled to make $6 million in 2009-10, $6 million in 2010-11, $5 million in 2011-12, and $3 million in 2012-13.

At 35 years old, there are more than a few critics that will say Thomas is over the hill and, perhaps, finished as a legitimate No. 1 NHL goaltender. Might the Flyers be willing to take a shot at Thomas rediscovering his game?

The Bruins have two first-round draft picks in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft (one of whom could be Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin) and plenty of young talent, such as Milan Lucic, Dennis Wideman, Mark Stuart, Johnny Boychuk, Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Tukka Rask—all of whom are 25 years of age or younger.

To me, the Bruins' future is not now; it’s three-to-five years from now. With that in mind, the Bruins should be open to any deal involving a top prospect or draft picks for Thomas or perhaps a solid veteran forward.

Whatever the case, the Bruins can afford to wait for some key young players to develop. Clearly, Thomas does not fit that mould.

The Flyers have made a huge commitment to their veteran players. Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Simon Gagne, Daniel Briere, and Scott Hartnell eat up a good portion of the Flyers' payroll, all of whom have limited trade value and/or no trade clauses.

The point is: The Flyers need to turn their sinking ship around now while they have the veteran base to make a run at the Stanley Cup. Many Flyers fans have felt the missing link to Philadelphia’s success has been goaltending for quite some time. Could a legitimate NHL veteran goalie be the difference next season?

On the flip side, the Flyers do not have a surplus of young talent. James Van Riemsdyk, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Oskars Bartulis, Ryan Parent, Jeff Carter, Daniel Carcillo, and the untouchable one—Mike Richards—make up the young core of this Flyers team.

If they still believe their time is now, the Flyers could make a move for Thomas. Question is: What would they have to give up?

Given both teams’ salary cap concerns, the Flyers would have to send Boston a player with a similar salary, a player such as Simon Gagne.

Gagne is under contract through 2010-11 at a salary of $5.25 million, which just about compensates for Thomas’ $6 million contract in 2010-11. Gagne and a prospect may be enough to pry Thomas away, especially when you consider Gagne’s contract.

Gagne has run his course with the Flyers and their fans and, while effective this season, Gagne is no longer a $5 million player. The same can be said for Thomas. The Bruins fans have had enough of his inconsistent play and, with the emergence of Rask, they can afford to trade him and his $6 million contract elsewhere.

It all adds up to two players that would benefit from a change of scenery.

The addition of Gagne would help off-set the Bruins' loss of Phil Kessel last season and protect against a long-term injury from Marc Savard—who will be out of the Bruins lineup indefinitely.

Obviously, Gagne would not come without risk. Gagne’s health concerns are well documented, but with just one year left on his contract, Gagne would represent a short-term risk and the Bruins would benefit long-term from having Thomas out of town and his three-year contract off the books.

Conversely, the Flyers would love to send Gagne packing and if it meant they were able to bring in an All-Star calibre goaltender in the process, all the better.

Would Thomas cure all that ails the Flyers? In a word, no. But it would be a good start, a step in the right direction, and an indication that management finally realized just how important the right goalie is in order for the team to be successful.

For more NHL new and notes, please check out my blog at www.theslapshot.com

Until next time,



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