So for the last few weeks we've seen a lot of very turnstile inspired arguments over the choices made, the ones currently in the works, and the problems next year will bring us, in this off-season. As I write this we sit well into our allotment of 10% over the cap and have a few months to fix this. What is written below is just speculation and reasoning behind it, most of which has been brought up and fought over, but with a little of it put into a deeper perspective.Firstly, looking at the moves made thus far in the off-season, We've done three things. Told our goalies we have confidence in what they accomplished to help us to the Stanley Cup Final, completely rebuilt our third defensive pairing, and solidified our third and fourth lines for offense.
This has, unfortunately, also put us in the position of moving at least one multi-million dollar contract. And has once again raised the battle cry of Carter Vs. Which I feel I have heard repeatedly over the past few years. The battle this time seems to be against Simon Gagne, the only surviving tenuered player from the Lindros Era. (or most of the Era's since) Now, I want to insert a lot of personal opinion here, but I wont. I'll save my feelings about players for other spaces.
Most importantly, and actually getting into the point of the headline, is why must this be an issue of Carter vs. Gagne? Why is a trade for some cap relief even an option? Everyone has an opinion on the farm team, our lack of picks, and the trade values of a single player to bring us under the cap. But really we are looking at a player in Gagne that our GM has all but said is completely expendable, and a player in Carter who is far too good to be a 4th line center, has no seeming desire to play wing full time (see Briere being pushed aside, see Giroux being pushed aside), and is on a team with a Captain center, an inexpensive just above rookie status and very productive center, and the highest paid member of the team, and playoff point leader (who plays?) center. And Blair Betts.
Addressing the first issue, trading Gagne, really can address the second, trading Carter, instead of fighting against it both trades work for each other. The vast majority see Carter as much better trade bait than Gagne, and also a hole opens up if you lose #12. But the biggest crippling factor to die hard fans is we all love Gags, we have for over ten years now, and your brining up the speculation akin to trading away a Keith Primeau or an Eric Desjardins. A player the fans love.
Now the team is short/going to be short on two possible things. A destructive all star top line, or an all star goalie.
As much as people complain about Leighton's "soft" goals, he seems to be loved by his GM, Coach, and Staff. I remember rumors that no matter what he would be getting the opportunity to fight for the #1 spot this year, and above all those mentioned above, the Goalie Coach seems to have a very vested interest in making him the #1. The Turco talks, and over saturated goalie talks, and signing too early talks are all pretty irrelevant now. Putting a large sum of money into a goalie seems completely lateral unless on some weird alternate Bizzaro fan world you pick up Antti Niemi on waivers. (Has any team ever had both starting SCF goalies under contract at once the very next season?)
This leaves us with a need for a top flight first line/left wing. Which I do not believe Carter is, and Gagne has already been shown to the fans that the upper brass does not have the confidence he is either. So why trade one of them instead of both of them?
As alluded to earlier, a lot of fans will be mad about trading off your longest tenured and one of the most beloved Philly sports stars in Gagne. One of the few ways to rectify this would be with a blockbuster trade. Possibly multi-person trade. Carter brings that chip to the table. A top flight high scoring young center for a wing of equal value. Meszaros is another high priced chip, that with no actual play or chemistry with the team yet could also be bundled into something with either Gagne or Carter. Picking up a $3 million solid 5th defensemen after a trade could add another million dollars into a high profile wing.
The Flyers obviously have at least one big move on one big contract to decide on before opening day. But that does not preclude the possibility of there being two more bombshells before then. Possibly for a very high added benefit to the team. Missing out on Carter and taking a loss on Gagne may be easily overshadowed if Holmgren could pull off something huge, like a Bobby Ryan type wish list local, or possibly bringing back someone like Patrick Sharp. (Both of these are wish list long shots which would require almost impossible set-ups. For the 'Hawks probably a three way deal to further pad their prospects and cut down on their cap woes, for the Ducks/Flyers probably Ryan gridlocking to the point of impending arbitration under threat of trade.)
Possibly the most viable, if the hardest solution may just be to lose two core players rather than argue about which one is worth the least to us.