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Thoughts on trading Upshall for Carcillo

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From a few conversations and bit of surfing the blogs and boards, I’m sensing that Flyer fans dislike today’s trades.

That’s quite understandable. Scottie Upshall arrived as a bright ball of energy to a struggling club that had given up on the season. He gave the fans new life in a disappointing year. And ever since being benched late last season by John Stevens, the young forward presented highly motivated, speedy, mercurial efforts night in and night out. It’s hard not to miss him.

But there are some legitimate reasons behind Paul Holmgren’s actions today, ones that go deeper than a fan’s emotional attachment to a player.

Deadline deals for the Philadelphia Flyers always revolve around four factors:

1. Injuries
Everyone knows that the healthiest team is the one still standing with the Cup raised high in June. So if you’re entering the final stretch already injured, you’d better have a Plan B.

2. Goaltending
We’re talking about Philly hockey here. Do I really need to explain this one?

3. Money
In the pre-cap world, deadlines belonged to the wealthy, and Ed Snider knew how to finance a strong acquisition. In the cap era, teams spend more time contemplating money management rather than pure expenditure.

4. Grit
The Broad Street Bullies earned that moniker the hard way. And there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Mr. Snider intends to keep it.

With the Flyers’ health finally intact, number one can be crossed off the list. As to goaltending, that will take more than a mere blog to analyze. Like I said, we’re talking Philly here.

So it comes down to two things: money and grit. The cap implications of this deal are clear. Upshall makes $1.225 and Carcillo makes about $875,000. This trade shaves $400,000 off the Flyers’ payroll—a seemingly small amount, but enough to allow them to bring up a spare player like Jared Ross or Nate Guenin without dropping Claude Giroux or Darroll Powe. It also gives the Flyers a little extra wiggle room when it comes time to sign a goaltender this summer, or when they need to further trim cap for the 2010-11 season.

That leaves us with grit. Regardless of what my fellow blogger might contend over at Broad Street Hockey, the line of Upshall-Giroux-Briere was not particularly successful. While they had speed and the ability to move the puck well, that trio lacked the size and strength to be effective against the strong checking power of the Bruins. None of them could create any havoc in front of the net, a key component Stevens likes to have on every line. And so it was that Stevens shook up his lines by the second period.

Carcillo delivers a greater physical presence to the Flyers’ bottom six. That’s an understatement, really, considering that the kid led the entire league in penalty minutes during the 2007-08 season. His 324 PIMs outdid number 2 Jared Boll by nearly 100 minutes. No wonder Homer predicts he’ll be a fan favorite. 🙂

I grasp the intellectual reasoning behind this trade, but I won’t say I’m a huge fan. I genuinely enjoy Scottie Upshall, both for his high energy style of play and his consistent work ethic this year. Once again he’s departing a playoff-bound group for another rebuilding team that likely won’t achieve a playoff berth, the disappointment of which I can only imagine.

I recall an episode of FlyerBuzz TV in which Upshall talked passionately about his belief that the current team had the type of bond that championship teams have. Yes, I know all players say that. But from the look on his face, you could tell this wasn’t just another careless and rehearsed statement for an interview. Hopefully Upshall will find another such situation in Phoenix.

And hopefully the chemistry he believed in was not permanent disrupted today in Philadelphia.

UPDATE: Comcast SportsNet posted John Boruk’s airport interview with Upshall. It’s a sad day for the fans, too, Scottie.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 9:56 pm

    Here’s hoping we can sweep the Red Wings this year! Of course, that would mean we lost all eight meeting last year but made it to the second round of the Playoffs, but won all four this year and missed the postseason. Hmm… A coincidence maybe?

    • Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:08 pm

      We all have our priorities 🙂

      • John permalink
        Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:12 pm

        Nah, I’d only prefer us sweeping Detroit and missing the Playoffs if it meant them also missing out. Obviously the ideal situation would be for us to sweep them, make the postseason, and have them take an extra-early vacation. Although I’m starting to think that maybe last year we should have had Granato coach the Avs-Wings games and let Quenneville coach all the other games. 🙂

  2. John permalink
    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 9:57 pm

    *Meetings, not meeting.

  3. John permalink
    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:07 pm

    Oh, and I almost forgot to ask you your thoughts on the ‘lesser’ Philly trade today. {McLaren for a 6th rounder}

  4. Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:15 pm

    I see the sense in the monetary side of this trade… I just don’t get how Phoenix gets a 2nd rounder going their way in this deal. I think Upshall’s going a higher ceiling than Carcillo… so why throw in a 2nd for him? I mean, the Rags got Antropov for a 2nd!!!! Quite the opposite, that 2nd rounder should have come the Flyers’ way. I mean, Upshall was a former 1st round – 6th pick overall. Carcillo was no where near that.

    So the short math is: we get a 3rd round pick of a grinder for a former #1 and a #2. Bad trade.

    • Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:58 pm

      I don’t know that you can compare where a player was chosen when he was 18 to where he is today. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are obvious examples, but I think you could look elsewhere in Detroit’s lineup for a better comparison with Upshall. Valteri Filppula was taken in the third round of the 2002 entry draft, 95th overall. Now would you rather have Upshall or Filppula on your roster right now?

      As for worst trade of the day, I believe that award goes to the Boston Bruins, who sacrificed Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums for Mark Recchi and a 2010 2nd rounder. Recchi bashed the Penguins last year, then bashed the Lightning in the press after signing with them for a big contract this year. Not good karma, and if I were the Bruins, I wouldn’t want that kind of negative energy in my locker room.

      • John permalink
        Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:06 pm

        Don’t mention Filppula! He scored on us tonight, so his name is not on my list of favorite people right now. Not that any Red Wings usually are, but still.

  5. Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:24 pm

    Broad Street Hockey here.

    I don’t think I ever said that the Upshall – Briere – Giroux line was successful, I think I said they could have been successful. I thought they showed some promise last night, but I mean, obviously a line playing together for one night isn’t much of a sample… but I think they could’ve been a very good trio.

    Just a difference in opinion. I enjoyed your post for sure.

  6. John permalink
    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:29 pm

    Nothing like some deadline deals to get the conversation going, huh FF?

    “Although I’m starting to think that maybe last year we should have had Granato coach the Avs-Wings games and let Quenneville coach all the other games. :-)”
    Remove the smilie and, in fact, just disregard that entire excerpt from my above comment. It’s 3-1 late in the second and we suck at comebacks. Detroit apparently doesn’t want to get swept this year, and also has the whole Hossa thing as motivation. I won’t write the game off yet, but I’m not going to hold out a ton of hope and be crushed if we lose..

    • John permalink
      Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:34 pm

      And I’ve got at least one philosophy for Granato to work on in practice: Shoot the freaking puck! We’re an offensive-minded team for crying out loud and yet lately we keep getting outshot pretty badly {As in 10 shots, and currently we’re “down” 24-15 right now}. We’re not supposed to sit back and try to sneak away with 1-0 wins, we’re supposed to get a lead and then close things out! {I believe the Avs are still perfect when leading after 2 periods this season.. Too bad we can’t get to that point nowadays}

      • Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:48 pm

        You have to focus on the positive. That’s the only thing that got me through it all two years ago.

        Do you think some of this is lack of leadership? I’m sure Sakic left pretty big shoes to fill.

  7. Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:46 pm

    McLaren’s insurance for a playoff run. He can’t be called up during the regular season – his salary’s in the $2.4 million range. But there’s no cap during the playoffs, so he could be called up as an experience guy to fill in for an injured player. Hopefully we won’t need him.

  8. John permalink
    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:03 pm

    Aw come on, cut me some slack. I’ve been staying pretty positive through the struggles of the team, haven’t I? 🙂

    Yeah, we definitely miss Sakic.. But keep in mind that he was healthy to start the year, and we still stumbled out of the gates. Plus he was hurt last year and we survived that ordeal. So I’m thinking that Granato has to take some major blame here.

    One of those minor deals that could come into play during the postseason then? And hopefully the Malkin-Crosby’s {Who are once again winning with Crosby injured. Hmm..} deals end up not helping and I get to have at least that to celebrate.

  9. John permalink
    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:23 pm

    Hejduk scores, with assists from Smyth and Stastny. That’s why I wanted to keep those two around. They are our top point-getters and I don’t want to go into full-fledged rebuild mode. I just want us to fix up the back end and get back into the thick of things next year. Preferably without Granato as the coach.

  10. Thursday, March 5, 2009 6:56 am

    Do you have a suggestion for a new Avs coach?

  11. John permalink
    Thursday, March 5, 2009 10:22 am

    How about Quenneville? 🙂

    • Thursday, March 5, 2009 1:06 pm

      I suspect that might require a little tampering. How do you feel about drawing the wrath of Gary Bettman, such as it is?

  12. John permalink
    Thursday, March 5, 2009 2:08 pm

    To me Gary Bettman is a joke and any punishment he hands down should be ignored. And you know, I’m still waiting for him to take action against the Rangers for defying the NHL’s authority to run every team’s website.. So yeah, screw him, I say we tamper if necessary to get Joel Quenneville back in Colorado!

  13. John permalink
    Thursday, March 5, 2009 9:30 pm

    Looks like Boston’s “upgrades” didn’t help much. Calgary.. I’m refusing to say that their game is a reflection of the deals they made. They still suck! 😉

    • Friday, March 6, 2009 9:42 am

      Calgary’s physical with great goaltending. They made smart plays at the deadline. Those things can pay off in the postseason.

      Of course, we have yet to see how Jokinen will adjust to the playoff environment – not every regular season star does equally well in May.

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