We are just over three weeks away from the start of free agency, when all of the teams that were unsuccessful in their bid to capture the Stanley Cup try to improve their team for the following season, and the team that was successful tries to keep itís group intact.
Yesterday, the Philadelphia Flyers tried to get a head start on their summer shopping, and get a leg up on their competition. The Achilles heel of the Flyers since the 90s has been their inability to keep the puck out of their own net. This past season, they had on paper one of the best lineups in the National Hockey League. Yet, they were at home watching the playoffs far earlier than they would have liked, swept out of the second round by the Bruins. In the process, they used three different starting goaltenders in their 11 game playoff run, none with any real measure of success.
Brian Boucher is an unrestricted free agent, and will likely have to seek employment elsewhere.
Michael Leighton and Sergei Bobrovsky are still under contract for another year, but Philly GM Paul Holmgren decided he had to try to upgrade the one position of weakness on his team if they were going to be taken seriously next year.
He sent a 3rd round pick, a prospect, and future considerations to Phoenix for the negotiating rights to free-agent-to-be goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Despite playing on a team with little-to-no star power, Bryzgalov has been able to guide them into the playoffs each of the last two seasons. He is widely regarded as one of the NHLís top goalies, and is an enormous upgrade over either Bobrovsky or Leighton.
The problem is that Philadelphia already has almost $59M committed to next season, with only 18 players signed, and not including Bryzgalov. The reason that Phoenix had to move Bryzgalov in the first place is that he wanted to be paid like a top player in the NHL, and the cash-strapped Coyotes couldnít afford his services any longer.
With the cap expected to go up to about $63M, the Flyers have about four million dollars with which to sign at least 2 more skaters (to get to a bare minimum of 18), and Bryzgalov, who will be commanding somewhere in the $6-7M range. Clearly, the math doesnít add up.
What that means is the Flyers need to find a trading partner to unload some salary on.
This is where the Red Wings come in to play. With the retirement of Brian Rafalski, the Red Wings are in need of a top four defenseman. Coach Mike Babcock has also said that he would like it if management added a top 6 forward. The Wings and Flyers arenít strangers to the trading game, as they came together to make the Ville Leino deal happen.
Any and all trade talks Iíve seen where Detroit is a team involved have included Jiri Hudler as the player being shipped out. He has a lot to like about him, and his contract. At just under $2.9M, his contract is an affordable one for just about every team in the league. He put up 57 points two years ago playing primarily on Detroitís third line. He only put up 37 this year, but the talent is obviously still there and he played much better in the second half of the year. Finally, his contract expires on July 1st, 2012, so if a team didnít like what they got out of him they could just cut ties then.
The Wings could address either of their needs by making a trade with the Flyers. Letís look at their need for a top 6 forward first.
Read more: Flyers, Wings Trade Partners? http://detroitsports...s#ixzz1OnU6bGwA
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Good read from Detroit Sports Nation. Here is the link with the full article with what players could be changing sides: http://detroitsports...-trade-partners
I personally think they are really going to push to ship out Hudler, and if he under performs still with a new club, his contract is soon expiring and will be off the books. A team looking to shed some salary I think would take him. I would love to have Jeff Carter in Detroit but I don't know if Holland would want to acquire another huge salary... Interesting read none the less. All three of the d-men they say are available don't really spark my interest, but I wouldn't be against having one come to Detroit for the right price.
Who would you say yes and no to from the Flyers players in that article?