Before I delve into this exercise, let me be clear that losing defenseman Kimmo Timonen would be devastating for the current Flyers roster, both in terms of team camaraderie and skill set.¬† Timonen is one of the two cornerstones of the Flyers‚Äô defense and would be very difficult to replace.¬† That being said, the Flyers currently have $22.9 million locked in six defensemen and Timonen is accountable for $6.3 million.
If the Flyers were to move Timonen, the defensive pairs would look like this:
- Chris Pronger / Matt Carle
- Braydon Coburn / Andrej Meszaros
- Sean O‚ÄôDonnell / Oskars Bartulis
The second pairing is worrisome, as Coburn took a step backwards in his development early on this past season.¬† Meszaros is also young and coming off of two sub-par seasons.¬† If the pairing doesn‚Äôt click, there aren‚Äôt many options (unless they re-sign Lukas Krajcek?).
The Flyers have extended offers but not currently signed pugilist Dan Carcillo or speedy fourth-liner Darroll Powe.¬† They are also in the hunt for a veteran goaltender on the cheap.¬† These players alone would require $4.25 to $5.0 million in cap space; the Flyers currently have half a million to play with.¬† Moving $6.3 million would solve the cap problems while giving the Flyers $1.5+million to play with as injuries arise.
It‚Äôs also worth noting that the Flyers‚Äô AHL farm team, the Adirondack Phantoms, is currently ranked 29th in the league in terms of prospects.¬† This is due in part to general manager Paul Holmgren treating the Flyers’ draft picks like birthday cards.¬† Trading Timonen for draft picks and prospects would help replenish a depleted system.¬† If Chicago‚Äôs success this year taught us anything, it‚Äôs that having top prospects in the league at minimum salaries allows for room in depth positions.
Veteran defenseman Scott Niedermayer retired a few weeks ago.¬† The Anaheim Ducks are in need of a top-four defenseman to replace him.¬† I imagine most fans would drool at the prospect of trading for forward and Cherry Hill native Bobby Ryan, but taking on his salary wouldn‚Äôt solve the team‚Äôs problems.¬† I propose that trading Timonen for the 2011 and 2012 first round draft picks, as well as former Flyers defensive prospect Luca Sbisa and recent Anaheim draft pick Devante Smith-Pelley, would be a gain for the Flyers in the long run.
It was brutal watching the Flyers do nothing in the first round of the draft this year, and they still do not have a first round pick next year due to the Pronger trade.¬† It was also painful to watch Sbisa sent to Anaheim, even though he was still not ready to make the jump to the NHL full time.¬† In this scenario, Sbisa would serve as our seventh defenseman.¬† Smith-Pelley is also projected to be a phenomenal power forward and, in time, could fill either the left or right winger positions (he‚Äôs listed as both depending on which site you read).¬† Forwards Ville Leino and Claude Giroux will also be free agents after this season, and having flexibility to sign both by bringing up cheap prospects is critical.
I would hate to see the Flyers lose Kimmo Timonen almost as much as I would hate to see Simon Gagne traded.¬† Unfortunately, management dug themselves into this hole and are going to have to be creative if they are going to crawl their way out of it.