[I had this blog post typed and ready to go, but due to compatibility issues involving IE and Blogspot, I was unable to post until after this story broke press. I am now on Firefox!]
Reportedly, Zherdev is signing a one year deal with Philly. What does this mean for the team moving forward, and does this spell an end to the Gagne era?
Simon Gagne was one of the most dynamic players of the past decade- when healthy. He is a terrific two-way player with brilliant speed and a strong finish. However, his career has been marred by injuries. Two concussions, several groin injuries, and a major shoulder injury, and he is only 30. Here is a guy who, now entering his 11th professional season, has played exactly half of his career in both the pre and post lockout league. He was effective in the trap, but much better when he has the open ice in the new league.
Plus, Gagne has great chemistry with captain and linemate Mike Richards. And for the better part of the decade, he has been the face of the franchise. Since Keith Primeau's departure, Gagne has taken over as the most familiar name on the team, and for good reason.
So what does Zherdev's deal mean for Gagne? Gagne was reportedly being shopped earlier in the week, but he publically denied these claims. There has have been some degree of truth in the rumors, or else he would not have said a thing. But now that the team has brought in a young, talented, scoring switch winger, does this mean Gagne is out the door, for real this time?
GM Holmgren said earlier in the season that a NTC will not stop him from getting rid of players. Gagne has a NTC, but he doesn't necessarily have to be traded. The Flyers could unwisely waive Gagne and let another team (probably the Islanders) pick him up for half of his salary. However, if a trade does not emerge, this appears to be the next best option.
But since Gagne has a reasonable cap hit ($5.25 million), and will be a UFA next summer, it seems unlikely that several trade offers would not emerge. There are a few teams with the cap room, and the noted desire to add a scoring winger to the lineup. I think the Isles and Devils are out of the question - trading a star player to a rival is not the Flyers way - but the Kings and Oilers, among others, seem like possible suitors.
The NHL is badly drama starved when Simon Gagne makes headlines for this long.
In other news, the Capitals defense corps will be sponsored this season by Charmin.
It's the softest!