The Flyers haven’t ruled defenseman Chris Pronger out for next season, but there little evidence to suggest he will return. Severe post-concussion syndrome threatens to end his NHL career.
Should Pronger sit, Philadelphia would gain $5 million in salary cap space once the season begins. That possibility could inspire the Flyers to spend to the cap limit this summer while taking runs at elite free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Parise would be the flashier get, but Suter would address the bigger need on the blue line.
So which players figure to depart Philadelphia to facilitate change? The Flyers have a $64 million cap number for players still under contract, leaving little flexibility at the moment.
Unrestricted free agent Pavel Kubina is almost certain to depart. Ian Laperriere’s contract comes off the books, creating additional relief.
Defenseman Matt Carle could cash in as an unrestricted free agent in a thin market for defensive help. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren would let him walk if he could land Suter.
Veteran Jaromir Jagr (who made $3.3 million last season) could move along if the Flyers opted to pursue Parise, who figures to attract epic offers in terms of salary and years.
Other subtractions would have to come via trades . . . and move salary in this NHL climate is very difficult. That massive Ilya Bryzgalov contract (with its annual $5.7 million cap hit) figures to haunt the Flyers from now until 2020.
The Chicago Blackhawks have struggled with injuries, inconsistent goaltending, a sputtering power play and general offensive ineffectiveness.
Their 4-0 loss at Los Angeles only underscored their needs heading into the NHL trade deadline.
Coach Joel Quenneville expects GM Stan Bowman to make something happen.
“He’s been working on it for some time now,” Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune Saturday afternoon. “We're down to a couple of days here. Hopefully we can add somebody and help our team.”
The absence of center Jonathan Toews and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson due to upper-body injuries has exposed the team’s need for better depth up front and on the blue line.
Chicago earlier added center Brendan Morrison, but he has been a healthy scratch six times in a seven-game span. A difference-maker he is not.
Here are some possible targets:
Matt Carle, D, Flyers: He is a very solid player, but Philly can’t keep everybody given its salary cap concerns. He could fit on the second pairing at even strength and the second PP unit.
Sheldon Souray, D, Stars: Showed new life earlier this season, then got hurt. He could certainly help the second PP unit and add a physical element to the No. 3 pairing. Dallas seems read to turn the page on Souray and give his minutes to younger players.
Derick Brassard, C, Blue Jackets: He was projected to become a No. 1 center in Columbus but he never developed into that sort of threat. A fresh start, more reasonable expectations a good surrounding players could help him finally reach his potential. Columbus would like a first-round pick in return—and that must give Bowman pause for thought.
John Erskine, D, Capitals: Washington seems ready to move a veteran off the blue line. Roman Hamrlik seems like the more immediate possibility. He could add some size and depth in Chicago.
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