The End of an Era: Simon Gagne Leaves for Tampa


Simon Gagne's career with the Philadelphia Flyers is officially over. As you probably know by now, Gagne was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Matt Walker and a 4th round pick.

Gagne, a fan favorite and the longest-tenured current Flyer before this afternoon, was drafted by Philly 22nd overall in the 1998 draft. His tenure lasted 10 seasons, during which he compiled 259 goals and 524 points in 664 games played. The knock on Gagne in recent years has been injuries – concussions and hernias limited his effectiveness and playing time as recently as this year's playoff run. Often times he played tentatively when returning from injury, staying to the outside and not attacking the slot, frustrating fans at times throughout the past few seasons.

When healthy, Gagne is a premier NHL left-winger. Fans will remember him for his Game 4 OT winner against the Bruins this past season (which sparked a 3-0 series comeback), as well as his Game 6 OT winner versus Tampa Bay in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals.

Gagne was sent packing because of the salary cap. With the Flyers $3 million over the salary cap, Gagne's $5.25 cap hit was a contract to move. However, the Flyers simply did not get enough in return. Because the Flyers were so far over the cap, other teams knew Holmgren had to make a move, and he was left with little trade leverage, greatly diminishing Gagne's value on the market.

Defenseman Matt Walker is nothing more than a seventh or eighth defenseman. His $1.7 million cap hit over the next 3 years better be buried somewhere in the minors.

This is the Flyers second deal with Tampa this offseason. If you look at the totals, Philadelphia finishes in a big second. Tampa acquired a second round pick and Simon Gagne ($5.25 mil/ 1 year) for Andrej Mezsaros, Matt Walker (combined $5.7 mil cap hit/ 3 years), and a fourth round pick.

Although the Flyers fell victim to the salary cap, they were beneficiaries of it earlier this year. In a similiar move, Detroit was forced to move Ville Leino in order to activate veterans off of their LTIR and stay under the salary cap. The Flyers acquired Ville Leino for Ole-Kristian Tollefson and a seventh round pick – an absolute steal for Philly. This is the way the "new NHL" works.

I still think there is another move in the works. I don't want to assess the Flyers offseason until I see the complete picture, which I don't think has happened yet. However, I'm not exactly sure if the Flyers have improved this off-season or have simply taken a few steps sideways. Either way, the Flyers will have a formidable roster entering the 2010-2011 season.