There are some dates of a calendar that stare right back at you, the anniversary or birthday that you forgot about, valentine’s day, or the big one Christmas. None of those dates have the Medusa like eyes that February 27th has when Flyers GM Paul Holmgren stares at the calendar. On 3 pm next Monday the NHL trade deadline will officially go into effect and by that point Holmgren will have either made his third monumental trade of the calendar year, or he will have stayed content that the current roster can make a run at Lord Stanley.
The phrase that Lebron James made so famous with his “Rise” Nike commercial fits so perfectly here: “What should I do?”
In some fantasy land this would be the dialog for the commercial with Holmgren taking James’ spot: “Should I give up on the number two pick of the 2008 NHL draft, admit that I made a mistake by vastly overpaying for a decent goaltender. Should I trade for a player that I really don’t need, but I know could be the key to bringing back the trophy that this city so desperately wants to parade around? What should I do?”
Simply put the Flyers don’t need Rick Nash. The 7.8 million dollar cap hit that he brings would mean that even more changes would have to be made in the offseason, but changes seem to be what Holmgren fears the least in life. NO ONE saw the Jeff Carter and Mike Richards deals coming last June, but the evil mastermind knew the talent he was getting in return. He knew that Wayne Simmonds could be a physical yet undersized power forward that was agile on his skates, yet works on the boards like a bulldog. He knew the kind of future that Brayden Schenn could bring to this team, a younger more disciplined Mike Richards, but with a faster top speed. Jakub Vorachek is exactly the kind of player that Holmgren likes; a number seven overall pick in the 08’ draft (same one that JVR was picked 2nd overall) that never quite panned out in Columbus because he was a facilitator that had no one to pass the puck to. Add to the equation Sean Couturier, who was once projected to be the number one overall pick in 11’, slid to the Flyers at eight. Then out of nowhere Matt Read comes along in camp, plays well enough to warrant a spot on the team, and now leads all NHL rookies in goals.
By flipping what was thought to be the two cornerstone players of the franchise for four players that are going to be part of the foundation for years to come and finding another diamond in the rough Holmgren appeared to outdo himself yet again, but not even he could have seen the crumbling of Ilya Bryzgalov coming.
When the nine year, $51 million contract was signed there was a pulse going around the city. Philadelphia had finally found the goaltender that was going to provide the Advil that Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton, Robert Esche, Roman Chechmanek, Antero Nittymaki, Martin Biron, Ray Emery, John Vanbiesbrouck, and even the great Ron Hextall couldn’t provide to solve the playoff headaches that have plagued this team since Bernie Parent left.
Yes Flyers fans knew that the 51 million dollars was an overpayment, but for a city that has had so many issues with goaltenders locking up a goalie for life seemed like the right move at the time. Now it seems like it might have been the worst move that Paul Holmgren has ever made. The move that was supposed to bring a championship home has just pushed him back against the wall.
The sour play of Bryzgalov and even backup Sergei Bobrovsky forced the front office to trade a combined four picks for the defensive services of Nicklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina. Yes those are nice mid-level deals that give the Flyers a better shot blocking presence and makes them one of, if not the deepest team in the league defensively, BUT does it put them over the top?
Does trading for Rick Nash put this team over the top?
Now if you’re buying into the Nash for a combo of Couturier/Schenn/Read trade rumor then you’re a fool. It just doesn’t make sense for Holmgren to get rid of any of the pieces that were brought over in the Richard/Carter deals and getting rid of Read would be just stupid.
A deal that does make logical sense would be JVR/Sergei Bobrovsky/1st round pick for Nash. The play of Couturier/Read/Simmonds/Vorachek/Schenn has made JVR expendable. In the case of Bobrovsky it doesn’t make sense for the Flyers to keep a high paid back up on the bench even with how bad Bryzgalov has been. Combine that with the fact that Columbus is looking for a young goaltender of the future and it just seems like a perfect fit.
I’ve read the arguments that getting another goal scorer isn’t what the Flyers need to worry about and the stats will tell you that it isn’t (Philly leads the league in goals with 192), but just imagine the power play combinations: Giroux-Nash-Hartnell, Giroux-Nash-Jagr, Briere-Nash-Schenn. Nash is the type of player that would put the Flyers in the same echelon as the Rangers, Bruins, and Red Wings.
The only concern is his gigantic 7.8 million dollar cap hit. Currently the Flyers have 2.8 million in cap space, trading JVR and Bob would push that number to 6.2 million. Holmgren would find a way to make this deal work, but it could cripple future moves. Nash just seems like Holmgren type of guy, a number one overall pick in 02 that never reached his full potential because of the talent around him.
The Flyers right now have one overpaid piece of the puzzle that was supposed to make them championship favorites; will Holmgren press the big red button and make it two overpaid pieces? Come Feburary 27th we’ll know the answer, for right now he’ll just stare at the calendar thinking “What should I do?”
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