Taking His Talents to Tampa Bay: Matt Carle Signs Six Year, $33 Million Deal

April 29, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Carle (25) holds off New Jersey Devils right wing Petr Sykora (15) during the third period of game one of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Philadelphia Flyers free agent defenseman Matt Carle has signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Flyers top three UFA targets entering the day all signed today, the anniversary of their home country's (almost) Declaration of Independence. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter went to Minnesota, and now Matt Carle goes to Tampa Bay.

And honestly, a $5.5 million cap hit for Carle is right in line with what other, similar defenders have gotten in recent months. Good on Steve Yzerman for signing a market value contract with a player significantly better than Dennis Wideman or James Wisniewski.

While the destination was unexpected, the departure of Carle was completely foreseeable. The man was going to get paid and the Flyers were operating as if they were not going to be the ones to do so.

It will not be easy replacing the team's ice time leader from a year ago, but the team cannot possibly be finished signing free agents. Even if Bruno Gervais signs, as was reported, he is not going to be the Flyers biggest free agent acquisition.

As of right now, the team has Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Nicklas Grossmann, Andrej Meszaros and Luke Schenn as their top five defenders, Andreas Lilja as their number seven, and a bunch of younger guys - Erik Gustafsson, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Brandon Manning, etc. - fighting for the final spot. Not bad, but not exactly a championship-caliber defense.

So this sucks. The Flyers are now significantly weaker on defense than they were the last time they stepped off the ice. Farewell, Matt. May Tampa Bay treat you well and offer you excellent locations to sky fish.

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