"Mike has become an integral part of our core group and we are extremely happy to have him under contract long term." - Paul Holmgren, Dec. 12, 2007.
"We're happy to have Jeff signed for the foreseeable future. He's an integral part of the core of our hockey team." - Paul Holmgren, Nov. 13, 2010.
"Over the two years I've been here, and even prior to that when I was with the organization, I've seen how well they treat their players and how highly everyone around it talks about it. … I think it's a very fair deal for both sides and I'm happy to be committed here for the next six years." - James van Riemsdyk, Aug. 30, 2011.
At this point, you have to expect that no one is safe. The old adage in hockey is that if Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can, and Paul Holmgren seems more than a little determined to prove it right.
It took him just 222 days after signing Jeff Carter to an 11-year, $58 million deal to trade him to Columbus, and now another 298 to unload James van Riemsdyk after he signed a six-year, $25.5 million contract. And at some point, one has to expect that players will stop seeing Philadelphia as a place you can play for a long period of time.
(Coming Up: NHL Draft Winners and Losers for all 30 teams.)
Hockey is a business, no one is ever truly safe, and so forth. Perhaps you could say the onus is on guys like Carter, Richards and van Riemsdyk to sit, arms folded, until they receive a no-trade or no-movement clause on the long-term deals they signed with the team. Hindsight being what it is, it was perhaps a little naïve of all three players to think that they could be with the team for the length of the contracts they signed.
It could be argued that this is especially true of van Riemsdyk, who of course put pen to paper on his deal a few months after Richards and Carter were shipped out.
(To be fair, van Riemsdyk's deal has one, but it doesn't kick in until 2016-17.)
But at the same time, we heard plenty out of Philadelphia that the development of van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux, in particular, was what emboldened Holmgren to go ahead and ship out his two other promising young forwards for the boatload of assets each fetched. That had to at least make van Riemsdyk feel as though he would be secure in his position for some time, as opposed to, say, less than 300 days.
There has to be a point, then, at which the whole "they treat their players well" reputation starts to evaporate.
This marks two consecutive June 23rds in which Holmgren has unloaded top young players who just signed long-term, big-money deals, and it has to be a bit of a turn-off for anyone the team might choose to pursue going forward.
Now, to be fair to Holmgren, he had a bit of a reason to unload all three guys: He grew to quickly regret the extensions he gave them.
Richards was more of a slow burn, of course, given that it took nearly four years to send him packing, but the decision to move both the team's captain and Jeff Carter was that something was terribly wrong in a locker room, and they were either furthering it or outright causing it. That can be tough to deal with, so out they went, and in came a slew of high-quality players, prospects and picks.
But van Riemsdyk was different. By all accounts, he was no sort of disruption in the room, and it seems from where I sit that the decision to trade him was a straight hockey move engendered by both a need for a defenseman (whether Luke Schenn is worth the price is another question) and van Riemsdyk's injury problems. He only played 43 games last season, and missed four of 11 in the playoffs, largely because of a foot injury and a concussion, and still might have to get hip surgery this offseason.
That is, again, not necessarily something you want to deal with for the next five seasons if you're Holmgren, especially if you're only getting 40 or so points per 82 games out of the kid.
But the trade came less than a week after Holmgren reportedly told van Riemsdyk's agent "not to worry" about a pending trade, and that can't look especially good to players. Let's not forget, Claude Giroux's contract is up in 2014, and Holmgren will likely be eager to extend him before that point, and shouldn't all this give Giroux more than a bit of pause?
The Flyers GM has proven willing to trade his captain, promising youngsters, former 40-goal scorers, regardless of prior commitments, all in pursuit of the success we're constantly promised the Flyers are capable of achieving without being shown much in the way of evidence that they are. If you're Claude Giroux, why do you even entertain the idea of signing a long-term deal with that team unless the first words out of Holmgren's mouth are "no-movement clause?"
The lesson here is that if Paul Holmgren gives you a lot of money and calls you an integral part of your team, you might want to call a moving company.
What We Learned (NHL Draft Winners and Losers Edition)
Anaheim Ducks: Losers. Okay, getting a second-round pick for a player they had reason to believe was jumping to the KHL wasn't the worst thing in the world, but they used the sixth overall pick to go a bit off the board for Hampus Lindholm and, more importantly, annoyed Bobby Ryan to the point where he all but demanded a trade.
Boston Bruins: Winners, if only for the troll factor. Taking Malcolm Subban with their first-round pick is a great way to annoy both Habs fans and Bruins fans who hate his brother. Great pick that really helps to shore up the one real organizational weakness they had. Also, Tim Thomas said he'd waive his no-movement clause, so that's another step in the right direction.
Buffalo Sabres: Winners. Not that beating the hell out of Jay Feaster is especially hard or commendable, but getting both Mikhail Grigorenko — once a projected No. 2 overall player — at No. 12, then working the Flames for Zemgus Girgensons at 14 is a great job by Darcy Regier.
Calgary Flames: Losers, almost certainly. Hey, I get trading down. But Calgary dropped seven picks to take a guy they could have taken several picks after that and, instead of drafting the highly-regarded Olli Maatta at 21, they took long-term project Mark Jankowski out a third-tier-at-best Quebec high school league. To be fair, the Flames have often noted that Jankowski is close to being the youngest player available and was almost eligible for next year's draft instead. Maatta is apparently a greybeard in their books, being a whole three weeks older. It should be noted, though, that all of Calgary's seven picks were in Central Scouting's top 66.
Carolina Hurricanes: Winners, but not as much as you think. They just shored up their top-six forward situation by getting Jordan Staal from Pittsburgh, and I also really liked their second-round pick of Phil Di Giuseppe out of the University of Michigan. But what they gave up for Staal? Hoo boy that was a lot.
Chicago Blackhawks: Winners. Loved the swoop for Teuvo Teravainen, who, like Jankowski, was about a week short of being a 2013 draft pick instead. He's actually just 17 years old as has a good-sized ceiling. And just for fun, they also drafted Jeremy Roenick's nephew, Boston College-bound Chris Calnan, in the third round.
Colorado Avalanche: Losers, kind of. No first-round pick, an overage 20-year-old faceoff specialist, tough center in the OHL as their second rounder, and only five players overall. But at least they re-upped Matt Duchene to a very affordable two-year deal (though how he's getting paid less than David Jones just baffles me).
Columbus Blue Jackets: Losers. They traded too much to get a mediocre young backup in Sergei Bobrovsky, believing his rookie season to be more indicative of his potential. That's never bit them in the ass before, right Steve Mason? Oh and they must have loved their draft, because right after it, they fired four scouts. What an organization.
Dallas Stars: Winners? Everyone is supposed to love Radek Faska, who's everything that's wrong with the global sports development system (left home to live alone at age 11, etc.), picked up some cap flexibility in offloading Mike Ribeiro's big-time contract, and got pretty-good prospect Cody Eakin. Lots to like but maybe they regret dumping Ribeiro in the short-term.
Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway: Losers, barely. I'm not sure that I'm ever going to understand why a team with so many 30-plus-year-old players never has a first-round pick (one in the last four drafts), but they do seem to make decent enough picks. Martin Frk was a strong selection in the second round.
Edmonton Oilers: Winners. I can't believe they actually made the right decision in taking Nail Yakupov, when every indication was that they wouldn't. The team really hit a home run taking WCHA rookie of the year Joey Laleggia in the fifth round.
Florida Panthers: Winners. Michael Matheson was an OK pick at 23, but at least they didn't trade for Roberto Luongo.
Los Angeles Kings: Winners? They may or may not have gotten a winner in first-round pick Tanner Pearson, but perhaps more importantly they got Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser locked up to affordable deals for the next three and two seasons, respectively.
won't be able to contribute at the NHL level for a few years at least, but this is a team that shouldn't be planning for right now anyway. They're also closing in on a new deal with Guillaume Latendresse, if you were wondering.
Montreal Canadiens: Unequivocal winners. Where most drafts have a healthy debate over who the biggest winner was, everyone pretty much agrees that the Habs had the best weekend of anyone. Just a real strong showing.
Nashville Predators: Winners. Good draft, sure, but they also signed a new lease agreement with the city that will keep them in their home through 2028, and includes $8.4 million in subsidies and incentives annually. Guess that nails down how much they'll offer Suter.
New Jersey Devils: Winners, as with the Bruins, just for the trolling. Taking Stephane Matteau's son, Stefan, at 29th? Hilarious.
New York Islanders: Winners. That thing about Lubomir Visnovsky jumping to the KHL? Apparently not true. "This is my first choice, to play for the Islanders," he told Newsday's Arthur Staple. So getting a pretty damn good offensive defenseman for a second-round pick was solid. Also getting their best defensive prospect in years in Griffin Reinhart at No. 4 is an additional positive. How many years in a row is Garth Snow going to have phenomenal draft weekends?
New York Rangers: Winners, depending on how you want to look at it. Brady Skjei (somehow pronounced "Shea") was their man at No. 28 but that ended all speculation that they would package the pick for either Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan. So I mean, if you don't think the Rangers should chase either of those guys, then: winners. If you do, then: losers. That's all.
Ottawa Senators: Losers. It's always nice to see a team draft a hometown kid but their sudden inclusion in the Nash trade rumors? Dumb. Especially because the reported package would have to include Mika Zibanejad, Nick Foligno and Ben Bishop.
Philadelphia Flyers: Losers. Don't see how Luke Schenn alone is worth James van Riemsdyk. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz looks like a steal at No. 45, but here's a Holmgren quote about him: "Are we committed to Anthony? Obviously, we are." Noooo!
Phoenix Coyotes: Winners. If you are interested in the Coyotes' slow evolution into a team that hits to hurt, then their drafting Ulf Samuelsson's kid is likely a good pickup. They also-reacquired Zbynek Michalek from Pittsburgh, and he seems like exactly the kind of player a team obsessed with defense will love, given his ability to block shots. He and Oliver Ekman-Larsson together could be scary.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Winners, big time. They did a lot of great stuff this weekend, like offloading a ton of cap commitments so they can pursue one or both of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and got a great return for Jordan Staal. Numbers indicate that Brandon Sutter might be a cheaper, younger, more defensively reliable version of the player they shipped out. Sutter started just 34.8 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone last year.
San Jose Sharks: Winners, if you believe them. They really like Czech center Tomas Hertl, who they picked 17th overall. They also feel like they flat stole a couple of later picks, but maybe everyone says that.
St. Louis Blues: Losers, temporarily. The pick of Jordan Schmaltz in the first round seems like a bit of a reach but might work out just great. Four of their eight new prospects are defensemen, and the first four picks they made were for college hockey-eligible players.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Winners, I think? Slater Koekkoek looks like he'll be a decent enough defenseman but you have to wonder about selecting a goalie in the first round, especially if he's playing in the KHL and highly-regarded. But he's also expressed an interest in coming to North America to play major junior, so if he does that, this could be massive for Tampa.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Winners. This was looking to go in the complete opposite direction when the Leafs took Morgan Rielly first overall with a number of better-regarded prospects on the board. But between offloading Jonas Gustavsson and acquiring van Riemsdyk — the latter being Brian Burke's best trade for the Leafs — you have to like this weekend.
Vancouver Canucks: Winners, but just barely. The scouts seem to like first-round selection Brendan Gaunce well enough but it feels like everything they do comes with the question, "Yes, but what about Luongo?"
Washington Capitals: Winners, unequivocally. I like the Ribeiro acquisition because it pretty much replaces Alex Semin with a more reliable player who better suits Alex Ovechkin's needs, and having Filip Forsberg drop into their laps as late as he did was very lucky indeed.
Winnipeg Jets: Winners. Jacob Trouba is going to be a very, very good player.
Gold Star Award
Minus of the Weekend
Unfortunately, it's Columbus fans. Would you believe Scott Howson is willing to enter next season with a goaltending duo of Mason/Bobrovsky. Because he is. "If we don't do anything else, it's going to be (Sergei) and Steve, and I think it's going to be a real competitive situation, which is what we're after," Howson said. Oh jeez.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "Ebs and Flow" is trying to shore up the Edmonton blue line.
To Phoenix: Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner
To Edmonton: Keith Yandle and Martin Hanzal
I'd like to hear you speak instead of your little dog.
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- Paul Holmgren
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- Claude Giroux
- Claude Giroux