Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman continued his quest for a world class organization today. Stevie Y went out and got proven scorer and leader, Simon Gagne from the Philadelphia Flyers. Gagne brings his goal scoring talents to Hockey Bay USA while the Flyers get defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth round pick in return.
The 30 year old Gagne, was a 30-goal scorer four times in his 10-year career with the Flyers. He will cost the Lightning $5.25 million this season. He waived his no-trade clause to come to Tampa Bay and will be a free agent at the end of the season. He may well be a one year rental player for the Bolts, but with the way the deal was structured, it was a no-brainer for Yzerman and the Lightning.
Although Gagne is a proven scorer, he has a history of injuries. Last season he played only 58 regular-season games because of a sports hernia. He missed all but 25 games in 2007-08 with a concussion.
“It’s always a surprise and a little bit of shock when a team you played for ten years asks you to move a no-trade clause. The deal with the Flyers was for me and my agent to talk to other teams. That was the only way were willing to do it,” Gagne said.
“Tampa Bay was the team that was really interesting to myself and that’s when we started talking to Steve Yzerman and we were able to make something happen with them. I was willing to waive my no-trade clause only for Tampa Bay, not for other teams.”
Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier and Gagne may have an immediate on ice compatibility. Both were drafted in the first round in 1998 after they played in the QMJHL at the same time, plus they have known each other since age eight.
Two of Hockey Independent’s featured bloggers give us insight into the Gagne deal:
Fred Poulin says of Gagne, “Gagne’s acquisition gives Tampa Bay two solid forward lines and the projected lines could be Gagne-Stamkos-St. Louis and Malone-Lecavalier-Downie. Gagne, who is a solid two-way player will likely help boost the production of his linemates as well as the Lightning’s power play. If Gagne stays healthy, I would not be surprised if he breaks the 80-point mark. But expect more like 30 goals and 35 assists for 65 points in 70 games from the former Flyers forward.”
Chris DiFrancesco simplifies the reason that Philadelphia dealt Gagne, “Gagne was about to enter the final year of his five-year, $26.25 million contract he signed in 2006. His cap hit was set to be $5.25 mill and one the Flyers couldn’t afford to keep.”
From DiFrancesco’s Twitter page: “Gagne was the best and most cordial player/human being I’ve ever covered on a day-to-day basis with that team. He’ll be missed by the media/fans.”
I’m at a loss to understand why the Flyers wanted Walker. He is their eighth defenseman and makes more money ($1.7 million) than their six and seven blue liners. Letting go of Gagne and acquiring Walker gives the Flyers just $1 million in cap space. .Walker has three years left on a four-year contract he signed last summer for a cap hit of $1.7 million, with annual salaries of $1.625 million, $1.9 million and $2 million each of the next three seasons, respectively.
In two shrewd trades with the Flyers, Yzerman has cleared $5.7 million in cap space which will obviously be used to sign superstar Steven Stamkos to an extension later this year.
Now that Stevie has a player of Gagne’s ilk in Tampa, it is my guess that he will look to trade forward Ryan Malone and his $6 million salary.
About the Author: WB Philp is a published hockey writer who has a built in disdain for Barry Melrose. He covered the Detroit sports teams for many years until he came to his senses and moved to the Sunshine State. He is a true puckhead on a mission from God (Gordie Howe) to make hockey relevant in the south. He lives in Hockey Bay USA and covers the Lightning full time. Did I mention he hates Barry Melrose?