Philadelphia Flyers rebuilding……..or not.

Yesterday, the hockey world was shocked when the Philadelphia Flyers announced two big trades and a huge signing that made people wonder what in the world GM Paul Holmgren is thinking. First there was the trading of scoring center Jeff Carter, which was inevitable after they traded for Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights a couple weeks ago. Carter is still relatively young (26) and is an extremely skilled goal-scorer but is tagged with an 11-year contract, which is risky to have no mater who you are. They received Jakub Voracek, a 1st and 3rd round pick in return and I think this trade works for both teams because the Jackets are a team who needs to win now. They have been stuck in mediocrity for too long and getting a 40+ goal scorer in Carter helps shore up their forward corps big time, especially if he’s going to play with Rick Nash. Meanwhile the Flyers have virtually no prospects and they keep trading all of their draft picks and they now have an early-first rounder. It’s uncertain that Voracek and whoever they select this year will ever have the same value as Carter but if there’s one thing this move does, it frees up cap space. Then these two moves happened…

Mike Richards in exchange for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. Flyers now have potentially two great prospects with Schenn and the 8th overall pick this year but it is still a gamble that these two will be as good as Richards and Carter. Simmonds is a good player and fits the Flyers needs well (gritty, two-way forward with some offensive upside) but he was expandable for the Kings with the emergence of Kyle Clifford. What they needed was a real #2 center and they got it. Richards may have had a bad playoffs but him and Anze Kopitar down the middle is going to be very dangerous for other teams. However, Richards was also tagged with a long contract (9 years remaining with a $5.75 cap hit) so the Flyers save money with this and the Carter trade and improve their future. If they were rebuilding, these would be good moves. That is, until they signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9-year $51 deal.

I have no problems with the Flyers signing Bryzgalov or giving him top-money since I think he will be worth it but 9 years? Giving a goalie that long of a contract is just asinine, especially one that is 31 years old. The Flyers have had too many band-aid solutions at goalie over the years (Biron, Niittymakki, Emery, Boucher, etc.) and they finally got a true #1 but they sacrificed two very important players by doing so and forgetting that they have a solid talent on the team in Sergei Bobrovsky, which makes this move (and the Richards trade) look awful in hindsight. You save over $10 mil by trading Richards and Carter and then throw away even more by signing Bryzgalov. I don’t get it. They also have to sign at least 3 forwards and 1 defenseman before the season starts with about $8 mil of cap space to play with. With a GM who likes to overspend, that’s not a good sign for Philly fans. Better hope Claude Giroux keeps improving because him and Danny Briere anchor this forward corps now.

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