Homer’s Do’s and Doh’s: The Finals – Upshall Trade v. Gagne Trade

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:
In a very tight battle, the Jeff Carter trade for Voracek, Couturier, and Cousins defeated the trade for Timonen and Hartnell’s rights as your favorite Paul Holmgren move to date!

Today’s contestants:

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?

Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay Lightning for Matt Walker and 2011 fourth-round pick
write-up courtesy of Kevin Christmann

In July of 2010, the Flyers traded Simon Gagne for Matt Walker and a 4th round pick in the following year’s draft (2011). For kicks, I decided to look back at something I wrote when the trade happened.

From July 2010:

We seriously couldn’t even execute a salary dump properly? So rather than having 5.25 in extremely valuable cap space expiring after this year OR available immediately (if it was dumped appropriately), we have 1.7 million tied up in a 7th D-man for the next 3 years….when we already had a 7th D-man.

We literally got worse than nothing because we took back a bad contract.

I can’t say I feel any differently now than I did at the time.

In the salary cap world, especially when you mismanage the cap a fair amount, sometimes you will have to make decisions strictly because of the need for cap space. I had completely accepted the need for the Flyers to shed cap space so they could fix the defense. It’s a simple concept really; re-allocate assets from your strength (offense) to your weakness (defense). I had even accepted that Gagne was probably going to be the one to go. He had one year remaining on his contract, was older than the other options, and had some legitimate injury concerns.

However, as my quote from that summer indicated, Paul Holmgren couldn’t even execute that salary dump properly. It would have been better if he literally gave him away for nothing, because in that case, the Flyers would have seen the full cap relief of Gagne’s $5.25 million.  Homer ended up getting worse than nothing. He took back an albatross of a contract; a 7th defenseman who was making $1.7 million for the next three years. He managed to turn a sizable expiring contract, into useless waste for an extra two seasons.

The purpose of a salary dump, after all, is to…dump…salary. Not take back a worse contract, even if it is less. This wasn’t the bad contract for bad contract trade that you occasionally see in the NHL. This was a one-way bad contract trade. A bad contract that still haunts the Flyers, as Walker still has another year remaining on his contract, and will spend that year in the AHL yet again.

I leave you with these gems from Paul Holmgren about Matt Walker, and the simple statement that I miss the Simon Gagne we all loved in Orange and Black.

He’s another defenseman that can really help us over the long hall.

He’s a good compliment to the guys we have, and can move the puck, and carry the puck, and provide offense.

Matt Walker, he of the career high 14 points, and a 5 pt season in the year before the trade.

Which Paul Holmgrem deal was worse?

  • Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay Lightning for Matt Walker and 2011 4th round pick (76%, 29 Votes)
  • Scottie Upshall and 2011 2nd round pick to Phoenix Coyotes for Daniel Carcillo (24%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 38

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