Is Carle the Flyers' solution?

Can defenseman Matt Carle solve the problems plaguing the 4-5-3 Flyers?

We'll see.

Carle was acquired from Tampa Bay last night, along with a third-round draft selection, for enigmatic winger Steve Downie, improving defenseman Steve Eminger and a fourth-round pick.

From here, the Flyers should have received more _ say, a second-round pick thrown into the mix.

Many long-time observers think the Flyers did well.

Again, we'll see.

Carle has slipped dramatically from his superb rookie season (11 goals, 31 assists, plus-9) with San Jose.  He was healthy lat year, but managed just two goals and 13 assists and was minus-8 with the Sharks. The slump caused him to be taken off the power play.

This year, he couldn't get untracked, either (one goal and one assist in 12 games), and the Tampa media said he was a defensive liability.

He is an upgrade in that he can rush the puck, a quality the Flyers need.

But the price was steep. The 6-2, 215-pound Eminger, after a shaky start, adjusted to the system and was playing steadily lately. He gave the club their only righthanded defenseman and he was playing on the power play recently. Eminger was criticized because he fell down and it led to a breakaway against Ottawa Thursday, but he was plus-five in his last six games. For the season, he was even in the plus-minus rankings. (The 6-foot, 205-pound Carle was plus-1).

Downie is the wild card. Yes, he's been disappointing. Yes, he took too many ill-advised penalties. But the former No. 1 draft pick has loads of potential; he was slowed by an injury early in the season and never got into a rhythm with the Flyers as he was yo-yo-ed back and forth to the Phantoms. He had a total of six assists in his last two AHL games before the deal.

The trade will be viewed differently IF it helps the Flyers _ who are about $818,000 under the cap _ find a way to sign free-agent winger Brendan Shanahan. The deal opened a spot for the Flyers, whose roster is now down to 49 _ one below the maximum.

Stay tuned.