Now Might Be The Time to Move Matt Read >

Now Might Be The Time to Move Matt Read

Created 2 years 133 days ago
by Michael DeNicola

Tags: Matt Read
Views: 2476



written by Michael DeNicola

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 --

Now’s as good a time as any to move Matt Read.

I want to start this off by saying that this isn’t a witch hunt on Read and his decline over the last two seasons. Going into the Summer, and knowing that the Flyers habitually spend at the upper limit, my mind is focused on redistributing cash around the roster. So it’s a money thing—smarter spending. It’s business, as they say.

With that said, whenever I venture into Matt Read discussions, I notice that there are generally two kinds of people present...

  1. People that think Matt Read is awful and the Flyers should trade him for the wax paper in a box of donuts.
  2. People that acknowledge Read’s offensive decline, but are aware that he’s a responsible depth guy who provides defensive element to the forward corps.

Regardless whichever one you are, I believe we can agree on something—Matt Read is performing beneath his contract.

Here are the financials…

September 23rd, 2013, Matt Read signs a 4-year, $14.5 Million extension with the Philadelphia Flyers

Annual Cap Hit of $3.625 million

Remaining Seasons on his Contract: 2016-17, and 2017-18

Salary Terms for Year 3 (2016-17): $4 Million

Salary Terms for Year 4 (2017-18): $3.5 Million

In his first 196 NHL games, Read scored 57 goals and 111 points, having scored a point in 40% of those games.

In his last 159 NHL games, Read has scored 19 goals and 56 points, having scored a point in 31% of those games.

Matt is a career defensive offenseman. Only in 2011-12, his rookie year, did Read start more than 50% of his faceoffs in the offensive zone at even-strength. Read’s value was based on his and Couturier’s abilities to manufacture offense from heavy-lifting minutes, versus our opponents’ best players. For the first few seasons, Read remained a very consistent player. He and Couturier were paired together on the checking-line, and their efficiency was the pulse to our possession game. In the last two seasons, it’s easy to see that Couturier has outgrown the 29-year-old Read, and Matt’s become another vagrant piece to the Flyers bottom-six puzzle. A piece which is sucking nearly $4 million off our salary cap.

Read had a tough go in 2014-15. He was battling through a lower-body injury just after putting up 22 goals and 40 points the season before. Matt ended the 2014-15 campaign with 30 points in 80 games. Everything led me to believe that 2015-16 would be a bounce-back season.

I was wrong...

And at age 29 (turns 30 in June), nothing tells me that Read will deliver anything close to a 20 goal, 40 point season again. But as I mentioned before, Read is not a worthless player. There is still value in the defensive part of his game. He still positions himself well in the neutral zone, and backchecks effectively. Both of which contribute to offense if you can manage to interpret it that way. So while Read is no longer a fringe top-six forward, there’s no question that he adds value to a team’s bottom-six.

"If you think he’s fine as part of our depth, why trade him?"

Honestly, it’s that cap hit. At this very moment, and assuming the Flyers buyout Umberger, Read’s contract is the fourth most expensive among forwards. And speaking of Umberger—buying out his contract would give the Flyers $3 million in relief next season, essentially turning Matt Read into a $625K player. Not too shabby. But three extensions come into effect this July (Raffl, Voracek, Couturier), and others are owed to RFA’s like Brayden Schenn, Nick Cousins, and Radko Gudas, and UFA Ryan White.

Any relief from an Umberger buyout will be soaked up tenfold.

Back to our $3,625,00 depth forward.

There was a tweet earlier today that caught my attention...

Are the Capitals a potential landing spot for a guy like Read? Perhaps. They’re losing Jason Chimera and Mike Richards this Summer, and free agency isn’t exactly stacked with players who fit the “bottom-six skill forward” mold. Outside of the Capitals, are there other teams following this model or migrating that way? It’d behoove our front office to target and probe that market for interest. Money aside, Read’s still the type of player who can buy your scoring lines time, find chemistry with his linemates, participate on the penalty kill, and provide 10 – 15 goals a season for the next two years.

It’s naïve to believe we’d be able to move all of Matt Read’s contract. Even for a wizard like Ron Hextall, that’s a tough nut to crack. And the terms on Read’s remaining salary do not help the issue. This is when retained salary comes into the picture. 

Lecavalier, Luke Schenn and Grossmann were all traded as part of retained salary transactions. Teams are not allowed to retain more than three players’ salaries at a time. Schenn’s and Grossmann’s contracts expire at the end of June, and Lecavalier will be retiring which voids the remaining term on his contract. That clears out all three spots for the Flyers, and retaining salary becomes an option once again.

What are the plans internally? Ron Hextall told us that we shouldn’t expect any big moves this offseason. Free agent splashes, blockbuster trades, etc… it’s all part of an era that’s dug us into a hole, and one which Hextall doesn’t intend on mimicking.

"I don’t see a big roster turnover — it’s not going to happen. We have pieces in place that we like. Would we like to get better in a couple of places? Yes, we would. And if we can, we’re going to do it. Again, I don’t anticipate a massive change here."

Ron has held true to this formula for a while now. He’s dumped a contract here and there, but ultimately he and the Flyers have remained patient through the organization’s transition phase. Trading a player like Matt Read and repurposing the savings up the depth chart doesn’t contradict Hextall’s strategy at all. It actually kinda falls in line with what he’s recently said.

"We need some upgrade up front. We need some goal scoring, playmaking — [that] would be our number one need."

Ron has been quoted numerous times saying that if a trade makes sense, “we’ll do it.” His job is to make us better. And when you’re working within limitations like a hard salary cap, getting creative and allocating money up and down the roster has been a strength of Hextall’s.

Although we’ve been assured that much of our roster will be returning to camp this Fall, I don’t expect the Flyers to be stationary through the next four months. There’ll be changes. And in my opinion, Read has played himself out of that corps group of skaters we need to elevate to the next level. We have prospects in the pipeline who may be ready to start populating spots on the Flyers roster, and it’s clear Read isn’t going to be assuming a role on a scoring line.

Now’s as good a time as any to move Matt Read.



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