Flyers Chasing a Proven NHL Scorer, Same Habit, Same Results >

by Michael DeNicola

Thursday, October 17, 2013 --

Our fanbase is an enigma; actually, I take that back -- we're a group of loudmouth hypocrites who shout a laundry list of demands that only contradict one another. In one hand, we're tired of management (namely Paul Holmgren) making knee-jerk free agent signings, and/or dealing draft picks and whatever prospects we have for "Win Now" talent. We preach patience and the allowance of our younger players to properly develop under the umbrella of due time and management. However, on the other hand, when the opportunity seems to present itself, we are so starving for success that we're just as quick to ditch the former mentality and adopt a "MUST HAVE" attitude. 

There are many examples to back up that declaration, but the most recent of which has to be the Thomas Vanek speculation. 

First off, there is no such rumor that the Philadelphia Flyers are chasing the face of Buffalo's hockey club. It was merely a suggestion cooked up by one of our city's beat writers, Sam Carchidi, from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

During a dark time of anguish and failure, Flyers fans look at our record and immediately begin to panic. When you factor HOW we've been losing, then it may seem to make sense to trade for an already proven NHL goal-scorer like Vanek. After all, the Flyers are 29th in the League in goals-per-game (1.43), and goaltending, for once, is the least of our problems. Offensive players like Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, (the injured) Scott Hartnell, Matt Read, and Jakub Voracek have combined for zero goals and only six points through seven games. 

This team definitely needs its pure goal-scorer, that much is a fact. The method of which this team acquires that player is what's so controversial. 

Carchidi's suggestion is to trade a combination of either Nick Cousins, Scott Laughton or perhaps even Oliver Lauridsen, "and/or draft picks." Considering that Buffalo is undergoing a rebuilding phase, maybe two prospects and a couple of early round picks could seal the deal. 

But there's a problem. Actually, there's a lot of problems. 

For starters, the Flyers have zero cap space and almost as much left in long-term injury relief. In order to trade for Thomas Vanek and his $7,142,857 average annual value (AAV), we would simultaneously have to dump a significant amount off our payroll. In that lies another issue...

The Flyers overpay their players. 

Unfortunately that is the nature of the beast. Ninety percent of the NHL is overpaid players, but Paul Holmgren & Company have mastered that reality. Never mind the handful of immovable contracts, players with bloated AAV's like Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann and Andrej Meszaros aren't as easy to trade away like some Armchair GMs make them out to be. 

Believe me, if they were easy to deal, they would have been dealt already. 

Now bring in the immovable contracts that hinder our roster's growth -- Pronger (LTIR), Hartnell (strict no-movement clause), Timonen (strict no-movement clause), and Lecavalier (strict no-movement clause). Aside from Kimmo's contract ending after the 2013-14 League Year, the rest are here to soak up oodles of cap dollars and roster spots for a considerable amount of time. 

Simply put.... we do not have the space to fit Thomas Vanek, and whatever space we will have should be saved for contract extensions and (possibly) promoted AHLers/prospects.

Now, let's highlight the obvious; Thomas Vanek's 7-year, $50M contract expires after this season. When that time comes, Vanek will be a 30-year old unrestricted free agent. A UFA who is already tied to rumors that he has interest in becoming a Minnesota Wild one day

So, what the hell would that mean?

To put it plainly, the Flyers would be giving up buckets of assets for a fabulous goal-scorer who'd be in the orange and black for less than a season -- a season, mind you, that has started out as promising as tension in the United States Congress. 

You may rebuttal that with, "Before you trade for him, make sure he re-signs with Philadelphia!"

Not a bad contingency. But there's a problem with that; does anyone have any idea how much goddamn money it'd take to wrap up an All-Star goal-scorer in the pinnacle of his career?

Yep, the inevitable. Our management would outbid the competition and drop another no-movement clause in the lap of "Win Now" talent. This habit would surely cost us the ability to re-sign another player in the short- and long-term, or perhaps murder the finishing development touches on a prospect(s) in our pipeline. With the way contract inflation is strangling the free agency market nowadays, Vanek is gon' get PAAAAAAAAAAID. 

I'm not bullshitting here. We've watched this rodeo happen again and again and again. 

"But the cap ceiling is forecast to rise! Cap space will open up! We'll be able to absorb new additions through the long-term!"

Hold on there, Jim Cramer. Are you an economist? A forecast isn't a guarantee, hence the definition of the word. Also, just because there's room to spend doesn't mean a team HAS to spend.

Ahhhhhhh, but here I go, that just ain't the way of the Philadelphia Flyers. They're all SPEND! SPEND! SPEND!, right? Of course they are. They commonly tightrope the cap ceiling like a cat on a windowsill. 

Where am I going with all of this?

The same thing I've preached since the closing on last season; it's time this organization takes a proactive, patient approach at managing its success. Go get that pure goal-scorer in the draft. Build THROUGH the draft, not someone else's draft results from a decade (or more) ago. 

I understand this team wants to remain competitive, and I can appreciate that. But the team we're seeing today is a product of consecutive reflex reactions. It's not curable by laying another brick on the same cyclical road. 

And getting back to Sam Carchidi; that man once lectured that he's not paid to be a fan. He's paid to report the news associated with the NHL and Philadelphia Flyers. His "insight" and suggestions are moot, not to mention an attempt to feed a non-story. Since the beat writers don't have their locker room clown any longer, it is time they begin speculating on this franchise's next circus parade. As long as they can print their juicy headlines, they're relevant and earning money off of the sheep out there. What better way to get their buzz than hoping this franchise fucks itself for the umpteenth time?

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