Homer’s Do’s and Doh’s: Timonen’s/Hartnell’s Rights Trade v. Briere Signing and Upshall Trade v. Leighton Extension

Paul Holmgren became the interim General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers on October 22, 2006. That interim title was removed only weeks later on November 11. Holmgren was able to take a team that finished last in the National Hockey League, and rebuild it to make a deep run all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals the very next season.

Yes, some of Holmgren’s moves have been amazing, but he’s also a guy who has gotten this organization into some hot water with the salary cap and was forced to make deals that were head scratchers to say the least.

If you enjoyed our Dazzlers and Duds polltastic tournament feature, we’ve got another one all lined up for you. Flyers Faithful proudly presents Homer’s Do’s and Doh’s: Our Favorite and Least Favorite Deals Under Paul Holmgren.

Starting Monday, November 19, there will be a single bracket with 32 trades, signings, and waiver-wire claims and losses, to determine exactly which deal everyone thinks is Holmgren’s best so far, his less than favorable so far, and whether the good outweighs the bad or vice-versa.

I don’t think anyone can deny that it’s been a real entertaining and exciting time in Flyers history with Holmgren at the helm. That’s a fact. But is Holmgren the king of exchange swinging, or does his penchant for quick fixes get him into more trouble than he’s worth?

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Yesterday’s Results: The Jeff Carter trade demolished the Matt Read signing and the Ilya Bryzgalov trade and sign annihilated the loss of Andreas Nodl to the Carolina Hurricanes via waivers.

Today’s contestants:

2007 1st round pick back to Nashville Predators for Kimmo Timonen’s and Scott Hartnell’s signing rights
write-up courtesy of Bob H

Under any other circumstances, dealing away a valuable first-round draft pick for anything other than a sure-fire name player at any position who will step in and provide an immediate boost would be a gamble most GMs wouldn’t make, the climate around the Flyers in the Winter of 2007 dictated that desperate moves be made. Coming off a season in which the club finished dead last in the NHL, Philly decided to reach out once more to a familiar trade partner in the Preds (who had been generous enough to take Peter Forsberg off our hands in late February), who gladly obliged thanks to the vagaries of keeping multiple talented players on one roster in the salary-cap era. The return has been 10-fold from its potential: only 10 combined seasons of consistent play from rock-steady Timonen and a cycle of ebb and flow from folk hero Hartnell, who have combined for 156 goals and 469 points over 804 regular-season games. Solid players and solid human beings, both guys will be remembered as true Flyers once they leave this city and this league for good.

Danny Briere signing 
write-up courtesy of Nick D

In the Summer of 2007, coming off the worst year in well… ever for the Philadelphia Flyers, Paul Holmgren had a choice. He could sign one of the following centers: Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, or Danny Briere. Both Drury and Gomez signed with the New York Rangers, and the Flyers ended up with Briere. Drury put up some decent numbers in his first two seasons with New York, but Gomez never quite got his footing and was traded a couple years later. Briere however, has done nothing at all for Philadelphia other than score gigantic goals at huge times in the playoffs, and a real veteran presence for the club (lest we forget his taking in of young budding Flyers stars such as Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier).

In his 301 regular season games with the Flyers, Briere has scored 118 goals and has 149 helpers for 267 points. But in the playoffs, where Danny Hockey shines, Briere has played 68 games and has tallied 37 goals and 35 assists for 72 points. Of those 37 post-season potted pucks, nine of them were clinchers, which is good enough for a little better than 24%. Bottom line: when the game is on the line in the playoffs, you want Briere on the ice. Honestly, does anyone ever get tired of watching this guy in mid-April and beyond?

Which Paul Holmgren deal was better?

  • 2007 1st round pick back to Nashville Predators for Kimmo Timonen's and Scott Hartnell's signing rights (88%, 14 Votes)
  • Danny Briere signing (12%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 16

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Scottie Upshall and 2011 2nd round pick to Phoenix Coyotes for Daniel Carcillo
write-up courtesy of Kevin Christmann

On March 4, 2009 the Flyers traded Scottie Upshall and a 2nd round pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for Dan Carcillo. The trade was, quite frankly, a move for cap space. It was the culmination of a complete lack of foresight with regards to the salary cap, and it should have never gotten to the point where it was necessary.

Early in 2008-2009, the Flyers had a rash of injuries to their defenseman. With several players on LTIR (I touch on this in my CBA 101 on LTIR) they went ahead and acquired Andrew Alberts and Matt Carle in separate deals. When the players on LTIR returned, it led to a string of maneuvers to stay cap compliant.

They waived Ossi Vaananen and Glen Metropolit who were both claimed.

They had to repeatedly send Claude Giroux back to the AHL, even though he clearly belonged in the NHL at this point. He was, I believe, the only waiver exempt player that made enough money to allow them to recall defenseman on the several occasions they needed another D.

Ultimately, they made the Upshall trade because they needed the ~$300k in cap space so desperately that they not only gave up the superior player, but had to throw in the 2nd round pick as well.

If that wasn’t bad enough, later still, the Flyers were signing guys off the street (David Sloane and Jamie Fritsch) to ATO’s because they still did not have the cap space to recall players.

The Scottie Upshall trade epitomizes Paul Holmgren’s “make one move, then two others to fix it” mentality that, in my opinion, he only corrected in the past two or so years.

On a more personal note, how can you not dislike this trade when you see this video of an emotional Scottie Upshall talking about the fans shortly after he was traded?

Michael Leighton Extension
write-up courtesy of Kevin Christmann

I was never a believer in Michael Leighton. I’ll get that out in the open right off the bat. However, after his exceptional run in 2010, I was perfectly okay with re-signing Leighton as long as we brought in some competition and said “let the best man win”. Unfortunately, my worst nightmare occurred and the Flyers intended to enter 2010-2011 with the same goaltending duo of Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher (only a Leighton injury and a surprising camp from Sergei Bobrovsky changed that).

My issue with the Leighton extension however, is strictly related to timing. Paul Holmgren, like fellow Philadelphia General Manager, Ruben Amaro, suffers from “first to market” syndrome. He must always make the first move. It is as if he fears the market is ALWAYS rising, and there are never bargains. To be honest, it basically is always rising, but that does not mean there aren’t bargains. Anywho, he feels compelled to sign his targets early before a bad contract drives up the price. In theory, that makes sense, but that’s not always the case.

In this case, Homer didn’t even play the market. Not at all. He re-signed Michael Leighton to his two year $3.1 million contract on the eve of free agency. For the life of me, I cannot understand why he wouldn’t wait a handful of hours and see what else the market might dictate; be it with Leighton or another goaltender.

There were other options: Antti Niemie – 1 year 2 million, Marty Turco – 1 year 1.3 million, Evgeni Nabokov – ultimately went to the KHL, Chris Mason – 2 years 3.7 million, Dan Ellis – 2 years 3 million, Martin Biron – 2 years $1.75 million, Antero Niittymaki – 2 years 4 million.

My point is not that these players are necessarily any better, but simply that Homer’s impatience shined once again. We signed a career backup goaltender (at best), who caught lightning in a bottle, to an extension on the eve of free agency, without even trying to see what the market might dictate. He then went on to play one, yes, just one, regular season game over the life of that contract; and he spent most of his time in the AHL.

Which Paul Holmgren deal was worse?

  • Scottie Upshall and 2011 2nd round pick to Phoenix Coyotes for Daniel Carcillo (93%, 13 Votes)
  • Michael Leighton Extension (7%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

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