Apr 27, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Vincent Lecavalier (40) in the 3rd period of game five of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers won the game 4-2 and lead the series 3-2. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers: Ok...So Now What???

This past week has seen the draft come and go and the start of free agency is in full swing.  Well to be perfectly honest free agency has also come and gone for the most part and the Philadelphia Flyers pretty much found themselves bystanders to the whole event.  You know the Flyers are having big time money issues when them not making any deals of importance at the start of free agency is a big deal.  I was holding out hope.  No.  I was wishing the Flyers would find a way to sign players like winger Mason Raymond(Calgary 3yrs./$3.15mil. cap) or taking somewhat of a chance on a defensemen like TJ Brennan(NY Islanders 1yr./$600,000).  That didn’t happen.  They did however re-sign Ray Emery and Jason Akeson.  Although I like the re-signs that the team made the total lack of any real activity left me wondering what plan the front office has for this upcoming season.  Like with any move, or lack of movement in this case, I usually let the news settle in before rushing to any sort of judgment one way or the other.  So I wait for any real substantial news to come out of the Philly front office, and I wait, and see other potential “fits” on the roster sign elsewhere.  The only thing that seems to be any thing close to newsworthy are reports that the Flyers are still trying to find a trade partner to take Vincent Lecavalier off the books.  Reports surfaced that a deal was almost done in Nashville and then they were gone.  Now there are reports that the offer from Nashville is back on the table and also an offer coming from Ottawa.  Both of these so-called offers suggest that the Flyers keep as much as half of the contract on their books to facilitate the deal.  Now I have never been a general manager and after what I’m about to say would almost clinch me never being one.  I would not give any team one cent extra to take Vincent Lecavalier off my hands.  I know I am in the vast minority here on this one, but let me play devil’s advocate and hear me out for a second.

I understand that last year was not one of the better years for Lecavalier.  I also understand that signing him last year was one of the many contractual mistakes made by Paul Holmgren.  He is here now so there are limited options of which to work with.

  1. TRADE AND GET THE MOST VALUE BACK:  That was the hope the front office had going into the draft and once it past that hope ran into free agency.  As you know this one didn’t go as planned.  Other teams know that the Flyers are in somewhat of a bind in regards to the salary cap so they are essentially trying to work Philly over in any deal.
  2. TRADE AND PAY INTO ANY DEAL: There have been reports that Nashville would love to get Vinny only if the Flyers pay for up to half of his salary.  To top it off some rumors have other teams asking for the same as well as Philadelphia throwing in draft picks. WHAT!!!
  3. BUYOUT:  The Philadelphia Flyers have already used both of their Compliance Buyouts so they would have to use an ordinary buyout to make this one happen.  The problem with this is that the Flyers would be penalized $1.5million of salary cap space to do it.  Sure it would save them $3million, but then you are left with paying money for nothing.  You’ll now see the problem with option two.  Money for nothing.
  4. KEEP HIM:  Hold on to Lecavalier for either the life of the deal or a good offer comes across the table.  He scored 20 goals last year and he did it with a bad back for most of the year.

Playing the GM I am going for option #4 and here is the reason why.  Where do I put him you say?  I would put him as my fourth line center.  Sure he is one really expensive fourth liner but where is it said that I couldn’t do it.  Yeah most teams put their “energy” guys on the fourth line where most of them either ride the bench or rot in the penalty box.  Vincent is not a young buck anymore.  So reducing some of his minutes would do him some good for the long grind of the season.  I would still deploy him a ton on the power play so he would recover some minutes there.  Plus on the fourth line he would be playing most of his five on five minutes against the opponents fourth line.  Talk about adding depth.  How many teams can tout that they have a 20 goal scorer on their fourth line.  The answer is zero.  Now he cannot play with a goon squad out there.  I could see him being paired with a Scott Laughton and either a Michael Raffl or maybe even Pierre-Edouard Bellemare if he makes the roster out of camp.  You following me so far?  No???

Where do I fit someone like Zac Rinaldo?  On the healthy scratch list most nights.  Conventional wisdom says that every team needs players like this on the bench at all times.  Well until they go to the sin bin that is.  I ask why?  Most of these “energy“(goons) play somewhere around five minutes a night.  So if you are only playing five minutes a night what real impact are you having on a game.  Sure a nice big hit “energizes” a team, but why can’t someone with a least some semblance of skill do it also.  Who is going to keep other players honest and not take liberties at our star players?  If I was GM my answer would be the team as a whole.  You all stand up for each other.  That last question is one of my favorites.  In reality when a star player takes a big or questionable hit the “energy” player comes out on the ice and might have a few choice words for the culprit then usually pairs up with the other teams goon; they have at it, spend five minutes in the box, feel shame, and go free right back to the bench where they belong.  Now what did that solve???  Nothing.  Having a fourth line with the likes of Laughton- Lecavalier-Raffl would keep teams more honest.  They’d have too or risk paying a price on the scoreboard where it truly counts.

So if we are keeping Lecavalier who is going to go to help put us under the cap?  I would look to trade two of the following d-men: Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann, or Luke Schenn.  The Flyers are paying more for their defense that any other team in the NHL and even if you take off Chris Pronger’s contract; they are still higher than all but two or three.  That is still way too much for just being serviceable.  Now I am not putting all the defensive lapses on the d-men alone.  The whole team needs to be more responsible next year.  Anyway, back to Coburn, Grossmann, and Schenn.  All three are signed for two more years and could fetch something of value in return.  If I had a preference it would be to move Coburn and Grossmann.  Coburn would get the most back and his contract alone would get the Flyers cap compliant.  Plus you could also package Coburn with someone like Scott Laughton and get a pretty darn good return. Now moving Nicklas Grossmann over Luke Schenn basically comes down to age, wear and tear.  Their pros and cons pretty much balance out.  To me moving them over Vinny makes more sense.  The savings they would get could then be palced elsewhere.

The Flyers are also still in need of a winger.  I was hoping for Mason Raymond, but I could easily settle for someone like Devin Setoguchi.  He is not as fast as Raymond but he is still pretty quick in his own right.  Imagine the forward lines looking something like this:

  1. Setoguchi-Giroux-Voracek
  2. Akeson-B.Schenn-Simmonds
  3. Umberger-Couturier-Read
  4. Laughton/Bellemare-Lecavalier-Raffl

That’s not too bad.  Not bad at all.  Sure it definitely goes against “conventional wisdom” when it comes to making a NHL lineup, but you can’t argue against the scoring depth.  Listen the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t won the Stanley Cup in 40 years and even when they last did they went against the grain to do it.  Why not try it even for one year and if it fails they can revisit this all over again next year.  Their young kids (Morin, Gostisbehere, Hagg, Alt, Sanheim, Leier, Stolarz) in the farm system will be one more year closer to the big squad and you wouldn’t be really wasting anything.  Might even get a higher draft pick in what some are saying is one of the better drafts in years.  It’s a plan though and it could work.

Who is kidding who though?  By time you are reading this the Flyers will have probably already dealt Vincent Lecavalier and this whole rant will be rendered moot.  Then the only thing I could think of as being in their plan is to save some money this year and pray for better luck next year.

Did you know Bobby Ryan is a free agent next year?…………….Too soon.



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