Homer’s Do’s and Doh’s Final: Carter 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?


The stage has been set. It all comes down to this. Two titan trades tussle for the defining moment of Paul Holmgren’s resume. In one corner is the trade that sent Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the king’s ransom of Jakub Voracek, the 2011 first-round pick that ended up being Sean Couturier, and the 2011 third-round pick that ended up being Nick Cousins. In the other corner is the trade that sent Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Matt Walker and a 2011 fourth-round pick. Will the good triumph over the bad? Will the bad beat out the good? Only you can decide!

Today’s contestants:

Jeff Carter to Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek, 2011 first-round pick (Sean Couturier), and 2011 third-round pick (Nick Cousins)

write-up courtesy of Marc Siciliano

Jeff Carter is a pretty good hockey player, but it just wasn’t working for him in Philadelphia. That came to a head when both he and Mike Richards were traded on June 23, 2011. The thing is, you won’t find many people questioning the trade of #17 like you will the trade of #18, a sentiment seemingly felt even before the emergence of Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins.

Paul Holmgren fleeced the Blue Jackets. You can argue that Jakub Voracek and the 3rd that was Nick Cousins might even have been enough to make this trade a win, but the icing on the cake is the 8th overall pick that turned into Sean Couturier. At just 19 years of age, he could prove to be the best player in a trade that happened before he even entered the league.

Filed under the laughable category: also there to potentially draft was blue chip defensive prospect Dougie Hamilton, a prospect the Flyers apparently considered. With his projected future as a franchise defensemen, you have to think he’ll give Jack Johnson a run for his money as the better long-term defensemen – a thought that can’t help Blue Jackets fans sleep at night. But at least you have the All-Star game coming up? Never mind, that just got cancelled. Sorry Jackets fans!

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 Holmgren move is more indicative of Homer's tenure as GM?

  • Jeff Carter to Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek, 2011 first-round pick (Sean Couturier), and 2011 third-round pick (Nick Cousins) (65%, 11 Votes)
  • Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay Lightning for Matt Walker and 2011 fourth-round pick (35%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 17

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