Random Prediction: The Flyers Are Gonna Trade Jeff Carter

The Penguins manhandled the defense-and-goalie challenged Flyers last night, 6-1, and while I’m not ready to completely spell doom for the Laviolette-era Flyers, it’s clear that the team is in need of a major trade both to shake things up in the short-term and maximize their asset management in the long term. I’ve long argued that a team’s defense has more to do with coaching, a system, and flat-out effort than actual personnel, but nevertheless, the Flyers just don’t appear to have the bodies on D or a goaltender capable of carrying them on a deep playoff run.

Simply put, even after the Pronger trade, the Flyers have a glut of forwards, but lack a true starting goaltender and defensive depth behind the aging Pronger and the offensive-minded Kimmo Timonen. And, with the Flyers right up against the cap, they’d have to shed salary the other direction in any deals they make, which severely limits their options.

Let’s go down the list:

Danny Briere and his remaining 5 years at a $6.35 mil cap hit is essentially unmovable, unless Bob Gainey really wants a fourth tiny, absurdly-paid forward to compliment the rest of his Canadiens roster.

Simon Gagne is notoriously injured and due $5+ million more next season before becoming a free agent. Not sure who’d give up anything of value for him, unless Bob Gainey et cetera et cetera.

— Trading Pronger or Timmonen moves salary, but doesn’t solve the D problem, and there’s no way Paul Holmgren’s giving up on Pronger this soon after making a big deal about getting him. Holmgren’s eventual replacement, on the other hand…

Scott Hartnell’s locked in at a reasonable $4 mil cap hit for three more seasons, and probably provides more value to the Flyers than he would to another team via a trade. Plus there’s no guarantee Carcillo, Cote, Pronger, and Laperriere could carry the “Being an A-Hole” load this franchise so desperately requires.

Mike Richards is, obviously, unmovable. He’ll be leading the Flyers with his leadership til the year 2020 (aka, the Year of the Leader in the Chinese calendar).

— Trading Claude Giroux or James Van Riemsdyk would provide the max possible return for Philly, but they’re also the two highest-upside players on the team and still make in the $1 mil rookie-contract range, so they’re untouchable.

That leaves one and only one possible option for the Flyers: Trading Jeff Carter.

Carter’s got one more year at $5.5 million left on his deal before he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the 2010-2011 season, and will assuredly command a long-term deal in the neighborhood of at least $6 million (or possibly a $4.5-$5 mil cap hit, if a team signs him to one of those shady-ass 45-year contracts).

He only turns only 25 in January, he’s coming off a 46-goal season, he’ll only be a restricted free agent in 2011 so his new team will retain control of him, and he’s got the size and relative health to ease concerns about any potential for an immediate drop-off in production. Plus, with the Flyers’ struggles and his own scapegoatedness after scoring one goal in last year’s playoffs, while he’s not quite Dany Heatley escaping Atlanta after his horrific car accident, he still might benefit from a change of scenery.

On the Flyers’ end, dealing Carter wouldn’t even necessarily qualify as “giving up on him too early” or “unfairly running him out of town,” it would just be an example of dealing from the team’s area of strength and balancing resources in a league increasingly obsessed with cap flexibility. Carter might be the fourth or fifth most valuable Flyers’ forward by the end of the year; on a team like Nashville, Minnesota, or even Toronto, he becomes the star.

So who to receive in return?

Last year, I proposed a possible Philly/Anaheim deal that would send Jean-Sebastien Giguere to Philly, and with Anaheim struggling and the far-cheaper Jonas Hiller playing comparably to Giguere (he’s actually started 6 more games than J.S. this year), the Ducks would almost certainly be willing to move the ex-Conn Smythe winner. Giguere is an unrestricted free agent after the 2010-11 season, though, and if the Flyers were to make this deal, they wouldn’t be able to negotiate an extension with Giguere until the upcoming offseason at the earliest, so they’d essentially be rolling the dice and trading control of Carter for one (expensive) year of Giguere, which also wouldn’t help their immediate cap situation.

Still, Giguere’s a proven playoff backstop who’s only 32, and with franchise goaltenders so rarely on the trade market — when Cristobal Huet signs for $5 million a year, it’s easy to see why — it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad risk for the Flyers to take if they’re serious about solving their goaltending problems, and they already made a huge trade for Pronger in the last year of his deal and ended up signing him long-term successfully, so there’s precedent for such a move. Carter for Giguere straight-up would be insane, but how about Carter for Giguere, one of the Flyers’ first-round picks in the Pronger deal back, and a throw-in depth forward (George Parros?)

The Ducks would clear Giguere’s salary and take on Carter’s, which is a short-term wash, and a long-term deal for Carter would be softened financially by the almost-assured departures of Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne next season, though with Jonas Hiller and Bobby Ryan up for raises in the next couple years, a Carter deal might end up being unfeasible. Plus, how many giant right-handed dudes does one team need? I guess for this scenario to make sense, it’d have to just come down to a pair of desperate GMs being desperate, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but also isn’t likely.

So basically, I can’t really predict who Carter would get traded for. Nashville in a deal involving Ryan Suter? Unlikely. Minnesota for prospects? They’ll have cap space next year when Kim Johnsson’s deal is up. Toronto for a prospect and UFA-to-be Vesa Toskala or an expensive defenseman? Can’t imagine the Leafs would be willing to part with more young talent after ditching two first-round picks to get Phil Kessel, but they’re desperate too.

But mark my words: Jeff Carter is gonna get traded. Not sure when, or to whom, or for whom, or where or how, but it is gonna happen. Probably.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make a bold prediction.

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3 Responses to “Random Prediction: The Flyers Are Gonna Trade Jeff Carter”

  1. John V Says:

    Carter isn’t a complete Dbag like some of the rest of that team, and I have to agree that your logic is sound. It was pretty obvious to me last night that the Pens matched the Flyers in grit but just spanked them in actual hockey productiveness.

    From the Pens side of things, I’ve been thinking about who Shero might move this year and I keep coming back to Kunitz. He’s a solid role player but at 3.6 this year, 3.8 next, and 4.0 in 11 means that his productivity leaves him a little suspect.

    Next year, we have to fill the following roles:

    Agitator (Cooke)
    Grizzled Old Veteran (Guerin)
    Former Capitals Superstar Defenseman (Gonch)
    Notre Dame Defenseman (Eaton)
    Puck Pillow Shot Blocker (McKee)

    Some of those will come back to the team. McKee in particular signed a bare bones deal just to re-establish himself as a top tier defensemen and there is no way he wears black and gold without taking that pay hit. We’ve got to loosen up some cap room especially considering the expected cap freeze.

    Kunitz seems like he’d be the best bang for the buck trade-wise. So…where to go?

    My random prediction: Atlanta. They have cap room, need some grit, and if Crosby loses his mentor in Yoda at the end of this year, you keep the star happy by bringing back his bff: Colby Armstrong.

    Colby isn’t big, but he plays with heart. Now that Crosby has slid into his own, I could see having Armstrong back on his wing and allowing him to stick his stick in the slot Rob Brown style and pick up 30 goals. He’s a UFA at the end of the year, and I could see him taking the home team discount to come play for a place he absolutely loved to be at. Plus, that might ensure he doesn’t get shipped off in another trade someday.

  2. Bill Says:

    I disagree with one of your points: “…there’s no guarantee Carcillo, Cote, Pronger, and Laperriere could carry the “Being an A-Hole” load this franchise so desperately requires.”

    Untrue. Carcillo and carry that load all by himself. Think of him as Jesus and being an a-hole as the sins of the world. I’ll take on the role of one of Pontius Pilate’s guards, spitting on him and plucking out his ginger locks.

  3. huwelijksreportage Says:

    huwelijksreportage…

    […]Random Prediction: The Flyers Are Gonna Trade Jeff Carter « Elvis Has Left[…]…

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