Were the Flyers working on a deal to send Gagne to Columbus?

TSN in Canada has been airing a documentary the Edmonton Oilers have put together called “Oil Change.” The documentary is meant to give the fans behind the scenes access to a team in the rebuilding phase. Part 1 of the documentary aired before the draft which gave a fans a look at the process that went into making their first overall selection. Part 2 of the documentary aired this past Wednesday and covered the Oilers from the entry draft until the first day of the season.

So what does the Edmonton Oilers and their documentary have to do with Simon Gagne and the Philadelphia Flyers?

In the documentary we learned the Oilers had discussed acquiring the 4th overall pick from Columbus because they were interested in Ryan Johansen who Columbus eventually selected with the 4th overall pick.

A scene at the entry draft was shown between Oilers General Manager Steven Tambellini and owner Daryl Katz discussing Columbus General Manager Scott Howson and the 4th overall pick. In this scene the Flyers get mentioned.

The scene is as follows:

Tambellini was meeting with Katz at the entry draft. Katz mentions Kevin (Lowe) was talking to Scott (Howson) and was wondering if there was something there (in regards to a trade). Tambellini mentions that yeah he was talking about the 4th pick. Katz asks what he (Howson) wants for it. Tambellini mentions well from Philly he was talking about moving the 4th pick if *name censored* was made available. Katz then responds ” so he is going to give up the pick and take on 5 and a half million?” Tambellini questions “yeah, Scotty is going to do that?” Katz then says give me a break and we move on to the next scene.

So what we get from this scene is that there was some sort of discussions between the Flyers and Blue Jackets regarding the 4th overall pick which Columbus had been considering moving.

It is not entirely clear which Flyers player they were referencing. The name of the player was censored out and there is no one on the Flyers with a “5 and a half million” cap hit as Katz says.

However, one can’t help but think they were referring to Simon Gagne. He was the player moved this summer and from interviews with Gagne it seems clear he was the player they intended to move all along. They approached him after the Finals about a trade, but he had initially refused to waive his no trade clause. This would fit in with the time frame of the discussions at the entry draft. They revisited the issue until he eventually relented and agreed to a trade. His $5,250,000 cap hit also isn’t too far off from the 5 and a half million Katz referenced.

I find it alarming that Gagne’s trade value was possibly perceived to be as high as the 4th overall pick, albeit in a weaker draft year, and ended up plummeting to a salary dump and a 4th round pick.

Gagne certainly isn’t the first example of how an asset’s value can be compromised when Holmgren finds himself in a cap jam, but it’s the first real illustration of just how devastating it could be. At least one team was apparently willing to pay a premium for the first line winger, but in the end the actual return was a negative due to the position Holmgren placed himself in.

I can admire Holmgren’s drive to do whatever it takes to improve this team, but one has to question if he puts this team in the best position to succeed now and in the future. If Gagne’s trade is any example it would appear that Holmgren doesn’t bother to look at the long term implications of his moves.