OK. So we want to make cap space to sign a goalie, right? (And I freely admit, I am doing this as an academic exercise, since I think the internal options are just fine at goalie.)
Geoff posits in his writeup (http://philly.sbnation.com/philadelphia-flyers/2011/5/15/2172497/flyers-goalie-situation-raises-philosophical-question) that Testwuide would step into Hartnell's role, thereby saving us $3.3 million towards the cap. I agree - Hartnell's so-called 'skill set' can be matched by just about anyone from the Phantoms (my favorite suggestion is Sestito, although he's a free agent). This is one easy way to make up cap space on the roster - although it leaves the team severely weak at wing.
Many people are arguing to trade Carter away, either directly for a goalie or just to make cap space. My knee-jerk reaction is that all this talk about moving Carter doesn't make sense. You have a guy who is a proven 35+ goal scorer, who also plays defense (when properly motivated), and who is signed from now until the end of time at a reasonable cap hit for his skills. Why in the hell would anyone choose to trade that away???
However, Geoff also brings up an interesting corollary - the Flyers are STILL stacked at center. With Richards, Briere, Betts, Carter, and Giroux (not to mention Powe or the others), the Flyers have riches beyond most team's dreams at center ice. So it does make sense to trade one of them. But which one???
Let's not include Powe or Betts in the comparison - apples to apples. So we're talking Richards, Briere, Carter, and Giroux. Let's just look at each individually.
1) Claude Giroux. I have yet to hear anyone vote for trading 'G' since about midseason. He really blossomed this season, enough that some are likening his play to that of Peter Forsberg. G seems to play bigger than his 5'11", 172 pound frame would allow - he really hits people sometimes, and for a skill player that is somewhat uncommon. His vision on the ice is uncanny, by universal acclimation. In real numbers, Giroux scored 25 goals and 51 assists (team high) last season to lead the team with 76 points. At his upcoming increased salary starting next season of $3.75 million a year (until 2014, with 2015 as a RFA year), that pans out as around $49k a point - damn reasonable. And since his penalty minutes totalled only 47 last season, AND he played on the deadly penalty kill unit with Richards, AND he plays low-circle on the PP, he is a plus to the team in that sense as well. VERDICT: completely untradeable.
2) Mike Richards. There's been lots of talk lately about how 'Richie' doesn't deserve the captainship of the team, about how he parties too much, and how he doesn't get along with the media. I believe the last one spawns the other two. Richie is a player in the mold of the Flyers leaders of yore that the team (and City) loved - Brind-Amour, Primeau, Poulin, Sutter, Clarke ... a guy who puts his head down and does what is needed on the ice, no matter what. He hits, he plays on the PK with G, he plays PP at the corner or high circle, he scores, he plays shutdown, he does it all. He scored 23 goals and 43 assists (second on the team to G) to be tied for third on the team at 66 points. His contract runs until the end of time - Capgeek doesn't even show the end of it - but at $5.75 million a season, it comes out to about $87k per point. He's only 26, so that kind of return for the foreseeable future is pretty darn good. With 62 penalty minutes, he's no stranger to the box but no repeat offender either. VERDICT: really? You wanna trade the captain, who is signed until eternity? NO ONE, not even Garth Snow, would do it. Totally untradeable.
3) Jeff Carter. The most popular subject of trade rumors and wish lists, even I agreed with the concept of moving his production earlier in 2010. The fear was that Jeff was entering free agency, and everyone assumed that a proven 35-40 goal scorer would command well over $6 million a year, which was too much. What changed? Carter signed another 'forever' deal with the team, that pays him $5.27 million a year. Not only is that less than anyone thought he'd get on the open market, it locks him in at that amount for the next thousand years or so - as the cap increases, his hit shrinks proportionally. And at only 26, it isn't unreasonable to think you can get 10 years out of him. Carter scores goals - that is what he does. His 36 goals led the team last season, and he added 30 assists (mostly high and wide, but WTF) for 66 points, tying him with Richards for third on the team. Carter does not play on the penalty kill usually (although he used to under the previous administration), but he does get PP time. His scoring translates to approximately $80k per point (or about $5 per shot, I figure - better than Bob & Barbara's special). AS far as penalty time ... well, it's the exception, not the rule - only 39 PIM last season. VERDICT: Maybe before the new contract, but any team would give their left testicle for a 35+ goal-scorer signed at a consistent reasonable contract. UNTRADEABLE.
4) Last but not least, Danny Briere. Or possibly, to some degree least - he's the smallest at 5'10" (and I don't believe that) and 179 lbs. He's also the oldest by far at 33 years old, but that also means he's been nearly a point-per-game producer since 2003. Briere is the only one to have come to the team as a free agent, and with that status comes his attendant salary - $6.5 million a season until 2015. Briere was second on the team in points this last season, with 34 goals (second only to Carter) and 34 assists for 68 points in 77 games (at least three less games than the other three centers here). That projects to something like $95.5k per point. Briere's strength lies in his ability to sneak under the coverages in the defense and pop up for a shot where no one expects him. He can 'Gretzky' like no one else on the team - running the power play from behind the net. On the downside, Briere accumulated 87 penalty minutes last year, good for fourth on the team and mostly constituted of 35 minors (tied with Hartnell for the lead in that category). Briere is not considered a two-way player, but did make a number of takeaways when the opponent tried to cycle back towards the blue line and he intercepted. VERDICT: Possible trade bait. Take into account the penalties, his age, his contract, and the fact that he is a really darn good offensive player, and teams will be looking hard at acquiring him from the Flyers.
So, I know that Briere has some sort of no-trade clause or no-movement clause or kiss-my-ass-if-you-can-move-Gagne-you-can-move-anyone clause. But his salary is the highest on the team, his age is among the older ones (not including defense), he's not known to be a real team leader, he's not a two-way player, and his stick penalties can steal the momentum from a good team effort 35 times a year. He also is still nearly a point-per-game player, so he has real value in trade. (You can't trade Jody Shelley and Matt Walker for Dan Ellis just because their salary caps are the same.) While trading Danny would mean the break-up of the HBL line ... I contend that NOT trading him means the break-up of the HBL line anyway by not being able to resign Leino. And for that $6.5 million, you could have two pretty darn good $3.25 million wingers to play with Carter or Giroux.
So, in the face of all the expectation and conjecture, I suggest trying to trade Danny Briere. The benefits are obvious, at least to me. Whether we use that space for a goalie, or to fill out the winger position, is a discussion for another time.
Thanks for reading.