An Idea So Terrible, It Might Make Sense

Created 1 years 211 days ago
by Michael DeNicola

Tags: Marc-Andre Fleury
Views: 4401


by Michael DeNicola

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 ---

Earlier today, Frank Seravalli tweeted a link to his latest TRADECENTRE article which is a list of "each team's needs, wants, and wishes."

For Philadelphia, our Top Priority is "Goaltending stability." Seravalli explains:

"Death, taxes, and Flyers goaltending woes. The Flyers will exit their bye week 30th in save percentage (.892). Both Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth are pending UFAs, allowing GM Ron Hextall creative reign, but Anthony Stolarz, Carter Hart and Philly’s three other goalie prospects need time."

For Pittsburgh, their Top Priority is "Depth defencemen." Seravalli explains: 

"There aren’t many holes on the defending Stanley Cup champs. But recent injuries to Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin show that Pittsburgh could use a steady No. 6 or No. 7 defenceman, with David Warsofsky, Derrick Pouliot and Chad Ruhwedel frequently riding the Wilkes-Barre shuttle."

Here's an idea I've been sitting on for a while...

With the Expansion Draft coming around this June, Pittsburgh is in a jam. Every team must expose "One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18." [source]

A player's no-movement clause (NMC) automatically counts him against the team's list of protected players, and Fleury's contract reportedly has a NMC. If the Penguins cannot somehow move Marc-Andre Fleury in a trade, they'd be forced to expose their younger goalie, Matt Murray. 

Bob McKenzie was on SiriusXM NHL Network over the last week or so (I cannot recall which day exactly I was listening), and mentioned that if Fleury refuses to waive his clause... the Penguins would probably buy him out. Buying Fleury out isn't a glorious option either since it presents cap penalties over the following four League Years. 

Let's assume Marc-Andre Fleury is willing to waive his clause for the club, and he'd do so to go to a relatively big market...

What's our predicament? Well, neither one of our NHL goalies are under contract past 2016-17. Neuvirth and Mason are set to become unrestricted free agents by July 1. On the surface, re-signing one or both of them might seem like the decision to make: You get one or both under contract, expose one, and hope for the best. 

My problem with this is... the Flyers have oodles of goalie talent in our prospect pool. Anthony Stolarz comes to mind. And if the Flyers don't believe he's ready for a starter's position THIS season or next, surely he would ideally be ready within two, three years. 

I don't have a clue what Steve Mason is looking for in an extension. But he'll be age 29 this May, and this could be his last chance to make big money and term on his next contract. I can't imagine he's interested in signing another bridge deal with the Flyers -- one which would need to be worth 3-years or less, and less than $5 million a season. The extension he signed on January 19th, 2014, was 3-years, $12.3 Million ($4.1mm per year). 

If I were a betting man, I'd say Steve and his agent would rather take their chances on the open market and hope a distressed GM makes a more palatable offer. 

These guys want term; they want stability. They're human-beings with lives off the ice. They have families and/or significant others. Moving around is not desired. And it's the term that puts the Flyers out of the picture. Again, that's the feeling I get in my gut. I could be totally wrong about all of this. 

And for anyone saying, "Re-sign Neuvirth to a cheap extension, let Mason walk, and go into 2017-18 with a Neuvirth-Stolarz tandem!" ..... I don't know how realistic that is. A part of me doesn't think the Flyers see that as a reasonable option. 

So here comes the crazy in me...

My proposal:

From Philadelphia: Mark Streit, $5.25 million a year through 2016-17

From Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury, $5.75 million a year through 2018-19

Pittsburgh gets their #6, #7 defenseman. Their concern over protecting Murray is wiped away. The cap hits involved in this trade are virtually a wash. 

Philadelphia gets something for a 39-year old defenseman who's on the final year of his contract. And we've got a goalie to expose in the Expansion Draft this June. 

Now we've got a serviceable goalie for the next two seasons, eating up only $500 or $750K more than what Mason's extension would cost us.... but with half the term. And did you check out the stats I attached in that tweet? We're not losing anything from a performance standpoint.

Other than Gostisbehere's inevitable extension, our salary cap looks pretty fit over the next three years. So it isn't like Fleury's salary will be dramatically prohibitive. Our best players are locked up, and you figure cheap ELC's will begin populating the roster between now and when Fleury's contract expires. 

Some feedback I received, and my replies... 

You could look at this as a 'I scratch your back, you scratch mine' arrangement. And it's disgusting to think that'd occur between us and the Pittsburgh Penguins. But I have tried to completely remove emotion from this. I am looking at this through a lens which eliminates logos & history. If the Expansion Draft wasn't anything to be concerned about, I wouldn't be wasting your time with this hypothetical trade scenario. Alas, come June, we don't have a choice. 

Something needs to be done. Perhaps I am overthinking or over-complicating this. But the Bye Week has me itching, and I thought I'd lay this idea out now before another solution presents itself. 

Mike DeNicola.... out. 



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