Thanks to a trade with the Los Angeles Kings, Simon Gagne returned to the Flyers on February 26 in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick. With him come raised expectations for a Flyers season. The team had fallen into an early season funk, and the return of Gagne – who had been a repeated healthy scratch for the Kings – was to provide a veteran boost both on the ice and in the locker room.
Gagne’s return engagement with the Flyers was like that of a movie script. He arrived just in time to suit up, received a standing ovation from the crowd, and ultimately scored a goal in a Flyers win over the rival Washington Capitals.
Although Gagne’s second go-round with the Flyers did not lead to a playoff berth, he was able to establish a new role for himself, that of a veteran bottom-six forward. Age has never been the concern for Gagne, as he recently turned 33. The concern for “Gags” is his injury history, specifically concussions.
On the downturn of his career, Gagne is still able to play a role in the NHL. During his second tenure with the Flyers, Gagne played all three phases of the game: even strength, power play, and penalty kill. Prior to Max Talbot’s injury, he and Talbot had created a strong energy on the third line, which would often match up against the opposing teams’ top line.
Gagne played 27 games for the Flyers this past season, finishing with a total of five goals and eleven assists. Not the strongest numbers, but he was definitely a contributor on a young Flyers team in need of veteran talent and leadership.
Based on the raised expectations upon Gagne’s return to the Orange and Black, he was able to meet and succeed those goals by understanding his role on a young team. Paul Holmgren rolled the dice numerous times in 2013 for a veteran presence, and was able to put a check in the success column with #12’s return.
Gagne enters unrestricted free agency for only the second time in his career (the first having been when he signed with the LA Kings). He will certainly let the free agent market set his price, but the “home cooking” of Philadelphia will send a strong signal to return to the city where his career began and recently restarted.
A player of Gagne’s ilk and age will be in line for a two-year deal for no more than $2.5-3 million. Whether that is appeasing to the former all-star or not, only time will tell.