Does Hal Gill have a chance to stick with the Flyers?

Image c/o sapah-fu

After being invited to training camp, does Hal Gill have a legitimate chance to stick with the Philadelphia Flyers? It adds another body to a defense corps that already had some intriguing decisions to make.

From my article last week:

The Flyers are currently just over $2 million over the league’s upper limit, so they will have to shed some cap space. The likely candidates are defenseman Braydon Coburn or Andrej Meszaros (or Grossmann to a lesser extent). The Flyers have nine blue-liners signed to one-way contract; and young players such as Oliver Lauridsen are knocking on the door of NHL playing time as well.

The battle for the top seven defenseman with the big club will be an interesting one. Timonen, Schenn, and Streit are givens. Coburn, Meszaros, and Grossmann are givens for whichever two aren’t traded. That brings us to five defenseman. Bruno Gervais and Erik Gustafasson are also on one-way contracts, and Gustafsson more than deserves a spot with the big club; especially after a very impressive world championships. That leaves Gervais battling Bourdon and Lauridsen for the extra spot.

If Gill is going to have any chance to actually stick with the Flyers, several things are going to need to happen. First and foremost, one of Braydon Coburn or Andrej Meszaros have to get traded. As indicated above, a move has to happen for the Flyers to become cap compliant.

Even after that happens the Flyers will have eight defenseman on one-way deals: Timonen, Schenn, Streit, Coburn (or Meszaros), Grossmann, Gervais, Gustafsson, and Bourdon. So assuming the younger blueliners such as Oliver Lauridsen, Brandon Manning, or Mark Alt are returned to the AHL, that still leaves Gervais and Bourdon battling with Gill for the seventh D spot.

It’s probably unrealistic to expect Bourdon to make the team. According to Sam Carchidi, he has yet to be cleared to play after his concussion(s). Bourdon will likely be with the team on IR, or waived and sent to the Phantoms (assuming he clears).

If all of this happens, we’re left with Hal Gill and Bruno Gervais competing for the extra defenseman position; two D-men that probably couldn’t be more different. Would the Flyers prefer to have a stay-at-home guy, or a puck-moving type? One is 10 years younger the other. Gill also saw his ice time drop to under 14 minutes a night, while Gervais actually played over 17 minutes a night last year. Granted, neither one of them played well…Gill had a Corsi Relative (team shot attempt differential while on the ice minus off the ice) of -1.3 to Gervais’ -1.5.

Gervais could easily be waived and if he clears he could be sent down without any cap penalty at the NHL level because he is below the required threshold for salary. I also would not expect Gill to sign for anything substantial, so I don’t think contracts will play a part in this decision.

To recap, a lot needs to happen:

  • Trade Coburn or Meszaros
  • No young D make the team (Lauridsen, Manning, Alt)
  • Bourdon remains not ready to return
  •  Beat out Gervais

I wouldn’t put too much stock into the Gill invitiation, and I think it’s a 50/50 shot, at best, that he makes the team. If everything goes swimmingly for him, he’ll be competing with Gervais for the last spot. Then it would just be a decision as to which type of defenseman they’d rather have. Gill doesn’t even necessarily have the “veteran” thing going for him on a blueline with Timonen, Streit, Coburn, and Grossmann.

  • Sean Houlihan

    Does the summer cap flex still exist? If so, what is it now? I know they are ~$2mil over, but as indicated in your previous article they have 1 contract spot available. Doesn’t the overage just adjust itself day 1 when Pronger is place on LTIR…or do they need to be compliant prior to the start in order to place Pronger on LTIR?

    • Kevin Christmann

      The summer overage is allowed, but they do have to be compliant before Day 1 of the season. They technically could place Pronger on LTIR then and become compliant but then they aren’t fully taking advantage of LTIR.

      Great piece from Tyler Altemose about that.