Flyers Outlook after trading Lecavalier and Schenn

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it on http://broadstreetbully.net.]

When Hextall and Lombardi got together to swing a deal Wednesday, it had a great effect on the entire Flyers organization, not just the team currently on the ice.  Way back in the beginning of the season, we covered how the Flyers were in a jam because Vinny was basically untradeable.  But, as always, this is why we’re just armchair quarterbacks and Hextall is in charge of the team.

The details of the trade, if you’ve been living under a rock, are:

Kings get:
  • Vinny Lecavalier
  • Luke Schenn
Flyers get:
  • A third round pick
  • AHL standout, Jordan Weal
  • They also retained half of the salary for Lecavalier and Schenn

Now that the dust has settled, here’s a quick and dirty outlook on the positives from this magical Flyers’ trade.

Hextall just cut $3,870,967 in salary cap space this season

While retaining half of Lecavalier and Schenn’s salary, the Flyers still got the better end of the deal by having the King’s take half of their salary.  The Flyers now have almost four million in available salary cap space for the remainder of the season.  This allows Hextall the flexibility to make AHL callups like Gagner, MacDonald, and/or whoever the Flyers need (Nick Cousins?  Robert Hagg?).  It’s a welcome relief to not have to count pennies and be pushing up against the cap ceiling with every move.  It also, more importantly, allows Hextall to make some deals at the trade deadline, if the opportunity presents itself.

Ultimately, having cap space is always better than not having cap space (I know.  Thanks, John Madden.)

Hextall just cut $7,741,934 in salary cap once the season ends

A big part of the trade for the Flyers that people aren’t realizing is that the Flyers are completely gone of both salaries at the end of this year.  Schenn’s contract was expiring at the end of this year.  The Flyers were able to trade him and at least get something in return, instead of letting him walk.  And with the defensive prospects already in the system, and the current logjam in the current Flyers defense corps, Schenn was the odd man out.  More importantly, Lecavalier reportedly waived his no movement clause and promised the Kings that he would retire after this season.  Hextall did the improbable.  He took a player with a $4.5 million cap hit that played seven games all season, traded him to another team with the albatross of a contract he had, and managed to retain no substantial money in the long term because they got Vinny to retire.

Hextall clears up one more defense spot

By trading Schenn, the Flyers are now closer to be out of the woods in the current overstock of defenseman in the Flyers lineup.  Currently, the Flyers have Streit, Schultz, Del Zotto, Gudas, Ghostisbehere, Medvedev, and Manning.  If Hextall can work some more magic then, by the trade deadline, that list may be sans Streit and Schultz.  And during the offseason who knows what Hextall will manage.  Streit is the most appealing option but his cap hit and age could be two deterrents to any teams in the market.  It comes down to how bad that team will want a veteran defensive presence in their lineup.

Also, Medvedev is only on a one year deal right now and will, most likely, walk after this year.  If Hextall can manage to trade him and get anything in return, then that’s two players who were going to leave for nothing at the end of the season that Hextall got assets for.  Manning and Gudas also have expiring contracts but Hextall may be able to resign both of them to cap friendly contracts.  It’ll be interesting to see which defense prospects will be ready for a callup next season and if that determines which current expiring defensemen get offers in the summer.

The Kings are actually happy with this trade

By all accounts, Dean Lombardi is completely on board with this trade and it’s not that some buddy move he did because he likes Hextall.  The Kings get Schenn to play a fifth/sixth defenseman role and chew up minutes that will allow their top four to rest.  And with the injury to Matt Greene, Lombardi clearly feels more comfortable having Schenn as a backup plan.  It’s a good situation for Schenn, as well. He gets to play for a contender and isn’t relied on as heavily to be a top guy.

(If this sounds familiar, you may notice that I basically described Richards and Carter).

Speaking of Carter and his injury situation, Vinny is added to the lineup as a veteran center who can anchor a bottom line, while also adding playoff and Stanley Cup finals experience.

If Carter remains out for any extended time due to complications, Lecavalier is a safety net for the Kings.

Both players also leave the Flyers to go to a team that has a legitimate chance to win a Stanley Cup this year.

It’s a win for both teams.

Hextall continues to stockpile draft picks

“Keep getting draft picks” is a solid plan. Hextall appears to have stayed true to his original plan to build the team through the draft, and not through Holmgren-esque free agent signings.  He continues to stockpile picks, which should make for a very interesting draft this summer.  Will Hextall look to use all of the picks to draft prospects?  Or will he use them as leverage in trades?  Having a lot of draft picks can never hurt.  Every so often, there’s a Henrik Zetterberg just waiting to be picked up in the later rounds.

The Flyers get a Calder Cup winning playoff MVP

The addition of Jordan Weal as a piece in the trade was almost treated as a throwaway in the initial reports.  But when you look at Weal’s resume, there’s a lot to be excited about.  While he wasn’t able to crack the Kings lineup (and, honestly, it’s a good lineup so I understand why), Weal took the AHL by storm as a member of the Manchester Monarchs.  En route to helping the Monarchs win the Calder Cup last year, he was named the AHL playoff MVP.

The scouting reports say his biggest problem is his size.  But, if you remember some former Flyers that were undersized, it should relax you a bit.  Sami Kapanen?  Danny Briere?  Even Mark Recchi.  What’s the worst that happens?  The Flyers put Weal the lineup and see what happens.  They can’t score any less than they already are.  And if Weal comes in, takes over Umberger’s spot, and starts scoring some goals, then everyone is going to be super excited.

As a bonus, even though his contract is up at the end of this year, he is a restricted free agent.  And his current cap hit is only $632,000.  With no solid NHL experience, his leverage for a bigger contract isn’t there.  Hextall should be able to lock him up for a couple more years on the cheaper side.

Bottom line is: Flyers need players to start scoring.  And they need wingers to start scoring.  And Weal is a scoring winger.  Granted, it’s not at the NHL level but now he’s, most likely, going to get his chance to prove his worth.

 

So, everyone, get excited!  Hextall is making the case that he can be a serious NHL GM.  However, judging by the comments on CSNPhilly articles, a lot of the commenters don’t think so.  And I think this is a fair assessment because most Philadelphia sports fans that are going to comment on CSNPhilly will only have Sam Hinkie, Ruben Amaro, Jr., and Chip Kelly as a recent example of Philadelphia GMs that made some questionable decisions and basically torpedoed their respective teams into the ground like a John Denver flight .

Give it time.

Guns N’ Roses said it best, guys:

Little patience, mm yeah, mm yeah
Need a little patience, yeah
Just a little patience, yeah
Some more patience, yeah (I’ve been walking the streets at night, just trying to get it right)
A little patience, yeah (Its hard to see with so many around
You know I don’t like being stuck in the crowd)
Could use some patience, yeah (And the streets don’t change but maybe the names)
(I ain’t got time for the game ’cause I need you)
Gotta have more patience, yeah (Yeah, yeah but I need you)
All need some patience (Ooh I need you, whoa I need you)
Just a little patience is all you need (Ooh, this time, ah)

In Hextall we trust.

(For now.  Unless his plan doesn’t work out.  Then we can all hate him.)

(But, seriously, give him a chance.)

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