With Matt Carle most likely heading to free agency I do not believe the Flyers should attempt to beat the offers he will receive. Free agency allows players’ agents to drive the prices of players up and with the salary cap floor in existence teams need to sign these types of players to contracts worth ridiculous money just to be cap legal going into the season. The Panthers were the perfect example of the pointlessness of the salary cap floor last offseason. They signed Upshall and Fleischmann to huge deals. Not deals most GM’s would recommend for those types of players. Some team is going to swoop in and offer Carle a deal worth around $6 million a year and the Flyers will not want to, nor can they, match it if they want to take care of their other needs and stay under the salary cap. We can all thank Calgary for that. With the signing of Dennis Wideman to a 5 year $26.25 million dollar deal the precedent has been set in these free agent defensemen sweeps.
As I explained in my article Examining The UFA Defensemen the free agent pool for defensemen is extremely weak this offseason with the exception of Ryan Suter. I also cast my vote to sign Jason Garrison in that article. Garrison is no Suter and many people fear that he could be a one year wonder and get a huge deal out of it (see Jeff Finger). A new option I’ve looked at recently is Sheldon Souray. He’s a big guy with a big shot. His shot is mainly what gets him by still, but he is not too bad in his own end of the ice either. One thing Flyers fans will love him for is his physicality. He uses all of 6’4 237 lbs frame when he lays into opposing players. His physicality is something that Carle lacks, but Carle is a little bit better of a puck mover. Carle’s shot however is weak and usually highly inaccurate while Souray has an absolute blast from the point and would make up for Pronger on the powerplay.
Word is that Souray rejected a 1 year $3 million offer from the Stars were he had a rejuvenation of a season last year. There seems to be an issue with the length of the contract. Souray has been a man without a home for 3 years now going from Edmonton then to the minors then to Dallas. The problem he’s going to run into looking for a long term contract is that he is 35 years old. I would not oppose the Flyers signing him to a 2 year deal, but that would be the max I would pay to an aging defensemen like Sheldon. The great news about him is that he comes on the cheap. If he was willing to accept $3 million a year that would fit into the Flyers cap budget. He also may be willing to take a little less money because we give him the extra year on the deal that Dallas apparently is not willing to do. The obvious downside is that he is older and this would be a short term trip and most likely one final stint in Sheldon’s career. Carle could of been (and might still be) long term help for the Flyers blueline. Age is on Carle’s side. Defensively, besides physicality wise, the 2 are pretty close in terms of skill with Carle possibly having a slight edge because he has more wheels then Souray at his stage of his career. Offensively Souray has the advantage in a big way. He has played like a superior offensive defensemen at points in his career. Souray finished with 64 points in the 2006-07 season with the Habs ending up with a 26/38/64 stat line. He likely won’t put up numbers like again, but he reached 53 in 2008-09. I believe he could flirt with 40 points next season if played right (meaning on the pp). Schenn, Coburn, Meszaros and Timonen are a real good top 4. By adding Souray we could add good depth at a cheap price.
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