While many of the Eastern Conference contenders got better today, the Flyers took a step backward.
All because they were backed into a corner by their lack of cap space.
So they traded energetic winger Scottie Upshall to Phoenix for tough-guy winger Dan Carcillo, the NHL’s leader with 174 penalty minutes .
My first reaction: The Broad Street Bullies are being resurrected _ and that won’t work in today’s speed-first NHL.(Carcillo and Flyers winger Riley Cote are second in the NHL with 18 fights each.)
Still, general manager Paul Holmgren deserves a mulligan. In two years, he has transformed the Flyers from a laughing stock to one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams.
One bad week _ and it was a forgettable one for the man they call Homer _ shouldn’t mask his superb two-plus years as the Flyers’ GM.
Cap mismanagement caused the Flyers to dump salaries in the last week. In order to activate Danny Briere, they tried to slip popular veterans Glen Metropolit and Ossi Vaananen through waivers, but both were claimed.
Then the Flyers had to send flashy Claude Giroux _ one of their most productive players recently _ to the minors so they could call up a defenseman to temporarily replace the flu-ridden Kimmo Timonen.
And today they traded Upshall _ whose speed and hustle will be missed in the playoffs _ for a player who has three goals and a reputation for taking foolish penalties.
Oh, and the Flyers also had to throw in a 2011 second-round draft pick.
Talk about overpaying!
So, in the last week, the Flyers’ close-knit chemistry has been shaken and they have lost considerable depth.
Again, all because they needed to clear cap space.
Carcillo’s cap hit is $884,000, Upshall’s is $1.225 million.
That means the Flyers cleared $341,000. They now have about $900,000 of cap room available and have flexibility if they want to recall a player from the AHL Phantoms in the event of a injury or illness. Now they won’t have to send Giroux back to the minors to free cap space.
Carcillo should become a fan favorite. He is a fearless checker and a good fighter (9-5-4 this season).. And the Flyers are hoping he can regain his modest scoring touch (13 goals in 57 games last year) and become more than a fighter.
Later today, after picking up minor-league defenseman Kyle McLaren for a sixth-round draft pick, the Flyers were working on a more significant deal, but it fell apart. Hence, their biggest move of the day was the acquisition of Carcillo.
It wasn’t a good trade, by any stretch of the imagination. But Carcillo will offer protection for smallish forwards Giroux and Briere _ I’m assuming he’ll be on their line _ and his hard-nosed style will keep opponents on their toes.
Fans are disappointed by today's developments. They liked Upshall’s hustle. They were hoping the Flyers upgraded their defense by adding Jay Bouwmeester or Chris Pronger.
But give Holmgren a mulligan. The talented Flyers didn’t get better today, but, thanks to the GM’s moves over the last two years, they still have a legitimate chance to go deep into the playoffs.