Nick Obergan. 21st July, 2010 - 10:33 pm
Rookie General Manager Steve Yzerman has wasted little time, in his first offseason with the Tampa Bay Lightning, making his mark on the team. From Martin St. Louis? extension, to dumping the big contract of Andrej Meszaros (to the Philadelphia Flyers, no less), to bringing back Pavel Kubina at a portion of the price, and signing Dan Ellis for less than $2M per season to likely be the starting goalie.
The reconstruction of the Lightning continued Monday as Yzerman acquired high profile winger Simon Gagne from the Flyers for a pittance ? defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth round pick in 2011. Gagne looks to be the last piece of a dynamic top-six forward group, along with Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, St. Louis, Ryan Malone and Steve Downie (and possibly Yzerman?s first round pick Brett Connolly).
Gagne comes with a $5.25M salary and cap hit for next season, the only one left on his contract, and Tampa Bay was hovering around the salary cap floor so the dollar amount was no issue for them. In fact, it could be a bonus that they are acquiring a player with a good offensive history who will be pushing for a big year so that he can cash in as an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
Gagne has spent all ten of his professional seasons in Philadelphia, and has amassed 259 goals and 524 points in 664 games. Though he has had a history of injuries, he has also had seasons with 33, 34, 41 and 47 goals. Gagne also won gold with Canada in the 2002 Olympics as a teammate of Yzerman?s.
During last season?s run to the Stanley Cup Finals, Gagne became a folk hero in Philly when he returned early from a broken toe and scored the overtime winner in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins to avoid elimination en route to becoming just the third team ever to come back from a 3-0 deficit. During that series he scored 4 goals and added an assist in the last four games.
In taking on a one year contract, and not sending out anything of significance (and getting rid of some salary), Tampa Bay is the clear winner of this trade.
Grade for Tampa Bay: A+
The Flyers absolutely had to trade someone, and that someone had to carry a significant cap hit for the upcoming season because they were sitting around $3M over the salary cap. How did they get there? They decided to sign enigmatic Russian winger Nikolai Zherdev to a one year, $2M deal. Zherdev was the fourth overall pick by Columbus in 2003, but spent last year in Russia after he and the New York Rangers couldn?t come to a contract agreement.
The 25-year-old has over 20 goals in three of his five NHL seasons, but brings baggage with him. That is why this is such a huge gamble for Philadelphia ? they sent out a lifelong Flyer who was a quiet, well-respected leader, to replace him with a potential locker disruption.
Directly from Tampa, they receive a player in Walker who will rotate between their sixth and seventh spot on the blueline, or perhaps getting buried in the AHL so that his $1.7M salary (for the next three seasons actually) doesn?t count against the cap. So while they are able to get under the cap, they still took on a bit of an overpaid player they will have to pay for the next three years, along with a draft pick that has very low odds of ever seeing an NHL game.
Grade for Philadelphia: C
Nick can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org or @NickObergan