Despite earlier reports from multiple sources which seemed to reveal that Matt Carle wanted to remain with the Flyers and wanted to sign here and that the Flyers wanted him, Carle instead pulled a switcheroo on America’s birthday.
The powers of persuasion from Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman were too great, and Carle was signed to a six-year contract.
Multiple media reports, including NHL.com, revealed the deal is worth a total of $33.5 million for the duration, with an average annual value of $5.5 million.
And so, one of the more polarizing figures in recent club history will no longer need to feel the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune at the hands of this fan base — or at least just for the two trips Tampa Bay is scheduled to make in Philadelphia as an in-conference opponent.
Carle played in just 12 games for the Bolts at the outset of the 2008-09 campaign before he was acquired in early November by the Flyers for Steve Eminger, Steve Downie and Tampa’s fourth-round draft pick.
His return to Florida’s Gulf Coast comes exactly four years to the day he was dealt from the San Jose Sharks to the Lightning in a transaction which saw Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich head to the lower end of the Bay Area.
As a Flyer, Carle totaled 15 goals and 137 points over 308 regular-season appearances, adding three scores and 26 points over 51 playoff tilts.
A durable blueliner (who played every possible game in the last two seasons and added an 80-game slate in 2009-10) prone to mistakes of concentration and confidence, Carle at times seemed to struggle without the influence of his partner Chris Pronger — whose career is now at stake.
He totaled four goals and 38 points with a plus-4 rating last season, led all Flyers in average ice time with 23:01 per game and in blocked shots with 164. He led all Philadelphia defensemen in shots on goal with 132 and ranked second in both overall points and power-play tallies.
Nonetheless, if the price tag is what it would have taken to keep the 27-year-old Alaska native here, Holmgren definitely put one over on Yzerman. If Ryan Suter’s 13-year deal in Minnesota less than 24 hours ago was the spike which set the bar for all UFA moves which will follow, then again, it’s a win for the Flyers organization which did not give in to the hype.
Forget Suter and Parise, whose interest was fleeting at best despite the years and numbers Holmgren offered, Carle seemed to be a grounded option with genuine interest in remaining here. It does sting that after little indication of anything serious behind the scenes, he’ll be leaving abruptly.
In the end, Carle should be remembered as a solid, if unspectacular addition to the defense who was never going to rise above a certain level, but who played a key part in that special Stanley Cup run of 2010.