UPDATED: With the trade announced, here are quotes from Simon Gagne and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman on the deal:
“I’m very excited right now,” Gagne said. “I’m looking at this opportunity as a new challenge and a new start. Tampa Bay was a team I was more than willing to waive my no move clause for. I really like the direction the team is headed in with a solid owner, Steve Yzerman as GM and Coach Boucher. I’m really looking forward to playing with guys like Lecavalier, Stamkos and St. Louis. I’m excited to be a member of the Lightning and I’m looking forward to starting next season in Tampa Bay.”
“In adding Simon to the Lightning today, we acquire a very talented player that will play along side our top forwards,” Yzerman said. “With his combination of speed and skill we are excited to have him with us and grateful he was willing to waive his no movement clause. This trade not only makes us a better team in the short-term, it helps create long-term flexibility for us, which all along has been one of our top priorities.”
Simon Gagne is no longer the Flyers' longest-tenured player.
Monday's signing of highly coveted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk quickly paved the way for the Flyers to deal Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Matt Walker and a 4th round pick, a league source has confirmed to the Daily News.
Gagne, 30, had one year left on his contract worth $5.25 million. The move was expected since the Flyers were approximately $2.49 million over the NHL's $59.4 million cap heading into Monday.
“This was a move to solidify our defense,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “Matt Walker is a right shot defenseman that we like. He brings size, grit and toughness to our backend. Simon Gagne played 10 seasons for the Flyers and was not only a good player for us, but also handled himself in a first class manner on and off the ice.”
The Lightning were an available dance partner, having just short of $20 million in space to work.
Only Eagles kicker David Akers, who joined the Eagles one month before Gagne joined the Flyers, has been in town longer.
Walker, 30, posted 5 points in 66 games last season. He has three years left on his deal worth $1.7 million per season.
“My initial reaction was pure excitement,” said Walker. “To find out that I was coming to Philly, I don’t know if I would say it was a life-long dream, but I’ve always wanted to play in Philly and I thought I would be a good fit there.”
This is the second trade Holmgren and newly-minted Lightning boss Steve Yzerman have nailed down this summer. On July 1, the Flyers acquired defenseman Andrej Meszaros from Tampa for a second round pick.
Here are some of Gagne's career highlights:
- The Flyers got it right when they took Gagne in the first round with the 22nd overall pick in 1998. Of the players in that draft, only No. 1 overall pick Vincent Lecavalier (326) has scored more goals in his career than Gagne (259) and Lecavalier has played 205 more games than Gagne.
- Gagne had 524 points in 664 regular-season games in 10 seasons for the Flyers. Posted an additional 32 goals and 47 points in 90 playoff games.
- Had 20 goals and was on the all-rookie team in 2000 (along with Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher).
- Had 27 goals, was a plus-24 and was named by teammates (along with Dan McGillis) as the co-Most Improved Player on the Flyers in 2001-02.
- Won an Olympic gold medal with Canada in 2002.
- Played in just 46 games in 2002-03 while fighting injuries, most notably groin and concussion.
- Came back the following year and - together with Keith Primeau - helped the Flyers get within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. Scored the game-winner in overtime against Tampa Bay to force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals.
- Playing much of the year alongside Peter Forsberg and Mike Knuble, Gagne had a career-best 47 goals in 2005-06.
- Was part of Team Canada's disappointing 7th-place finish in the 2006 Olympics.
- Signed the 5-year, $26.25 million contract in September, 2006, that is the primary reason Gagne is an ex-Flyer today.
- Won his second consecutive team MVP award in 2006-07 after posting 41 goals for a Flyers team that finished last in the NHL and was the worst in franchise history.
- The 2007-08 campaign was a lost season for Gagne, who missed 57 regular season games and the entire run to the Eastern Conference finals because of concussion symptoms.
- Rebounded with a career-best 40 assists (and 74 points) in 2008-09.
- Missed the first 24 games of 2009-10 after abdominal surgery. Came back to register 40 points in 58 regular-season games.
- Missed four playoff games after having screws surgically implanted to stabilize his right big toe was broken by blocking a shot in the 2010 first round against the Devils. Returned to the lineup and scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 4 of the following series against the Bruins, which ignited the Flyers historic comeback from an 0-3 series deficit.
- Scored the game-winner in Game 7 to help the Flyers finish off the Bruins.
- Had three goals in five games as the Flyers dumped the Canadiens to win the East Conference finals.
- Had two goals in the Stanley Cup Finals loss to the Blackhawks. Was a minus-3 in the Game 6 clincher and was on the ice for Patrick Kane's overtime winner.
WHERE HE RANKS
FLYERS' REGULAR-SEASON HISTORY:
1. Bobby Clarke, 1144
2. Bill Barber, 903
3. Brian Propp, 790
10. Simon Gagne, 664
1. Bill Barber, 420
2. Brian Propp, 369
3. Tim Kerr, 363
4. Bobby Clarke, 358
9. Simon Gagne, 259
1. Bobby Clarke, 1210
2. Bill Barber, 883
3. Brian Propp, 849
10. Simon Gagne, 524
1. Bill Barber, 285
2. Brian Propp, 246
3. John LeClair, 231
4. Bobby Clarke, 227
9. Simon Gagne, 176
1. Bobby Clarke, 32
2. Bill Barber, 31
3. Dave Poulin, 27
T-10. Simon Gagne, 11
1. John LeClair, 61
2. Brian Propp, 55
3. Bill Barber, 54
6. Simon Gagne, 47
Shots on Goal
1. Bill Barber, 3250
2. Brian Propp, 2637
3. Bobby Clarke, 2587
7. Simon Gagne, 1980
Thanks to Daily News sports writer Ed Barkowitz for compiling Gagne's highlights and stats.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.