It's funny, really. For most of his tenure as a Philadelphia Flyer, I have bashed Matt Carle's name through the earth's crust. He barely hits, his turnovers have been plentiful and costly, and (according to many) he's absolutely nothing without Chris Pronger as a linemate.
Or is he?
Check out that article linked in the highlighted text above. It's an argument written by one of Broad Street Hockey's authors, Geoff Detweiler.
Geoff loves Matt Carle. In fact, that may even be an incredible understatement. Geoff goes above and beyond to support Carle against the high-powered scrutiny of one of the fiercest fanbases in professional sports today. Whether you agree with Geoff or not, you have to give a lot of credit to a man who goes against the grain with such passion. Especially when the grain's direction is set by the majority of the Philadelphia Flyers fans.
But if you read that article, Geoff uses statistical data not traditionally stated on a scoresheet or player's card. According to everything Geoff listed and explained, Matt Carle is a better defenseman without the services of Pronger assisting him at the Flyers' blue line.
Now, check out how Detweiler used Philadelphia's cry for Ryan Suter (NSH Defenseman) against us by comparing what sort of d-man he is to.....you guessed it....Matt Carle. (How About This For Optimism? Compare Matt Carle)
Is it far fetched? Probably. Are the examples and crunched-numbers used in the article all circumstantial? Maybe. But it's an incredibly well-written and researched argument that tells us (the fans/readers) Matthew Carle is quietly one of the better defensemen, and is owed a lot more credit than most Flyers fans tend to give him.
Every single player in this League has his cursed proclivities. Unfortunately for us recently, Matt Carle's turnover in Monday's loss against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning cost the Flyers big time. And for that, Carle's name has become a very popular subject of discussion throughout Orange & Black Nation.
Despite his best effort to apologize to the fans and to his teammates, Matt is still considered to be one of Monday night's biggest scapegoats --
Since the two trades, Philly has absolutely fallen in love with Niklas Grossmann and Pavel Kubina. They're large presences in the defensive zone. They're blocking shots and taking men off the puck. They're exactly what this team needed ever since Chris Pronger went down with injury.
Throughout all the praise for our two new blue liners, Carle continued to skate under our radar. In fact, did you have any idea that Carle leads the Philadelphia Flyers this season with blocked shots (150)?
Grossmann trails Carle by 7, and Kubina by 35.
Look, I'm not here to stick up for the guy. I just wanted to make it perfectly clear that Matt's not this unbelievably shitty hockey player I (and many) once believed him to be. Does he still turn the puck over?
Like a friggin' machine.
And this is where MY argument is introduced to the table; Love him or hate him, Matt Carle will probably not be a Philadelphia Flyer next season.
Once this playing-season is over and everyone begins focusing on the Entry Draft and Free Agency pool, Matt Carle will become an unrestricted free agent defenseman.
Prior to June 1st (free agency frenzy day), Matt could re-sign with Philadelphia. Currently he's raking in $3.8-Million this year in salary, but operates on a $3,437,500 cap hit each season for the last three years.
If you did not know before, the current NHL Salary Cap maxes out at $64.3-Million for each Club. All players' cap hits must fit below this ceiling according to the League's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). There are -- of course -- exceptions, but that's a completely different discussion.
Matt is 27yrs old and will be 28 before the 2012-13 regular season is underway. Bordering the age of 30, I imagine the next contract Carle signs is his last chance to make big bucks. The most he could make in his career, and bigger than what he's making now. Some have speculated close to the $5-million/season mark.
Does he deserve it? Yes? No? Irrelevant. Why?
If you're a Flyers fan, then you know how aggressively our organization operates at the cap ceiling. General Manager Paul Holmgren and Chairman Ed Snider pour countless hours, sweat and blood in keeping this team in Playoff contention year in, year out.
Unless Matt Carle's talked into signing a contract equal to or less than his current contract, then I cannot realistically see a Flyers crest on him next season.
"But why so frugal with money? The Flyers aren't known to hesitate throwing an absurd amount of green on players' laps."
Like I said, the team has its priorities.
Matt Carle may not be as terrible as I once thought he was, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's worth five-million dollars against our cap for the next 3 - 5 seasons either.
Before any consideration is invested in Matt's offer after this year, we must take a look at the upcoming free agents the Flyers currently employ today.
The NHL list goes as follows:
Jaromir Jagr (UFA)
Jakub Voracek (RFA)
Tom Sestito (RFA)
Pavel Kubina (UFA)
Niklas Grossmann (UFA)
Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts will also become free agents, but I believe it goes without saying that those two will not be re-signed by the Flyers.
No one's sure what's going to happen with Jaromir Jagr. He's come out and said he wants to re-sign here, but it all depends on how he finishes this season and how much his asking price will be.
Voracek's had one hell of a year. There's no doubt Philadelphia's interested in re-signing him to an extension, and I'm sure it will be for more than what he's making now ($2.225-Million).
Tom Sestito is the most expendable name on this list of upcoming free agents.
But Grossmann? Kubina? One of these two guys MUST be re-signed. I know it. You know it. Holmgren knows it. Especially if Chris Pronger continues to ride the long-term injury list well into next year. If you were to ask me which, I'd say Grossmann is the highest priority to ink in the off-season.
Being a 27yr old skater, Niklas' next contract is going to be his largest opportunity to make the most he can as an NHL player. Which means in order to re-sign him, he'll be generating more demand than his $1.625-Million cap hit does today.
And as long as we're discussing a player's cap hit, I'll remind each of you that James van Riemsdyk's 6yr/$25.5-Million ($4.25-Million AAV) contract comes into full effect starting next season. So there's that extra chunk of change to account for. And seeing how Holmgren denied all offers for JVR by the trade deadline, I don't see the Flyers dealing James and his salary away during the off-season.
Certain AHL players will also be up for re-inking this June. Let me know if these names ring a bell: Harry Zolnierczyk (RFA), Ben Holmstrom (RFA), Matt Ford (UFA) and Marc-Andre Bourdon (RFA). Granted these salaries do not count against our NHL's books, but if you take Bourdon for example -- he could have a good chance at permanently cracking an NHL roster after this year.
The future is always examined, studied, and planned for by each team. Not just the year ahead, but the year after that, and after that, and after that, and.....you get the picture.
By the end of the 2012-13 season, players like Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell, Eric Wellwood, Kimmo Timonen, Erik Gustafsson, Brandon Manning, Andreas Lilja, Sergei Bobrovsky, Oskars Bartulis and Blake Kessel will all be free agents. Oh, and after the 2013-14 season, our very own Claude Giroux throws his hat in the free agency ring.
Re-signing a handful of these skaters (and a goalie) could hypothetically be a very difficult possibility if a large sum of money is already invested in a re-signed Matt Carle.
The League -- and all the Clubs within it -- does not operate in a vacuum. There are literally hundreds of different things that can change between now and the Flyers' decision to re-sign Matt Carle, or let him walk.
Even the salary cap could be risen which would leave room for more opportunity.
In September of 2012, the current NHL CBA will expire, and the League and NHLPA will have to work together to publish a new one which could be littered with even more loopholes, more clauses, and more legal provisions than there is today.
Or.....it could be DRAMATICALLY simplified.
But for now, Commissioner Gary Bettman orders each Club to continue operating and planning for the future while abiding by the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. So what we have now.....is it. There's no wiggle room.
"Business as usual."
The Salary Cap is still $64.3-Million. There's still no chance in hell we can escape Pronger's 35-Plus Contract if he's never to set skate on NHL ice again. There's still a 50-contract limit. Danny Briere's loony $6.5-Million cap hit will still count against us for the next three years. And the Flyers still have six players on their roster with either a No-Trade or No-Movement clause anchoring them in Philadelphia, and sponging 1/4th of the salary space.
All signs that lead me to believe Carle's chances of re-signing in Philly are constricted.
Priorities, people. They exist. They're dangling in front of Paul Holmgren and he'll be forced to address them very soon. Despite the multitude of aftermaths on the potential horizon, I firmly believe Matt Carle remaining a Philadelphia Flyer following this season is one on a short, minority list.
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