Philadelphia Flyers Struck by Lightning as Matt Carle Departs: Fan's Analysis

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Philadelphia Flyers lost free agent defenseman Matt Carle to the Tampa Bay Lightning via free agency this week.

General manager Paul Holmgren may have decided that he didn't want to match Carle's new deal, or believed that he could fill his roster slot in other ways all along.

Cheeky headline

People who are too serious are bothered by cheeky article headlines. Instead, those personality types should focus on what really matters, the loss of Matt Carle and the impact that might have on Philadelphia's hockey team.

While the Flyers have recently acquired Luke Schenn from the Toronto Maple Leafs for James van Riemsdyk, the departure of Carle now leaves one veteran defensive hole open.

Matt's importance

Carle, who was originally acquired from the Lightning in a November 2008 trade, began his career with the San Jose Sharks in the 2005-06 season. The Alaskan native, who will turn 28 in September, is not among the top defenders in the National Hockey League. But, he is a decent player and his 23 minute time on ice average per game last season was valued by head coach Peter Laviolette.

Someone doesn't have to be a perennial Norris Trophy contender to be a positive part of a defensive group. While Carle is prone to some turnovers, he also scored 15 goals and added 122 assists in 308 regular season games as a Flyer.

To expand further upon his importance, Carle appeared in 64 games in the 2008-09 season, 80 games in 2009-10 and then didn't miss a game during the past two seasons. Considering how many injuries the Flyers suffered behind the blue line in 2011-12, his full-year effort proved to be very valuable.

In three Flyers playoff seasons, he appeared in 45 games, scored three goals, added 20 assists and logged approximately 25 minutes on ice per game.

Skating on

The Flyers currently have the following defensemen under contract for the upcoming season: Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Nicklas Grossmann, Andreas Lilja, Luke Schenn and Chris Pronger. Marc-Andre Bourdon is a restricted free agent and Erik Gustafsson is a highly touted rookie who appeared in 30 games last season.

Pronger remains out of action with concussion issues and Lilja is a 37-year-old seventh, or eighth, defender.

Recent reports have the Flyers pursuing seven-year New York Islanders and Lightning veteran free agent defenseman Bruno Gervais. Will the addition of Schenn and potentially Gervais, help Philadelphia to improve the twenty-first ranked defensive performance they gave last season? (Yes, we know Ilya Bryzgalov has to play better as well.)

It's certain that Holmgren will continue to make roster adjustments leading up to next year's trade deadline. He knows that an improved blue line effort can help his team to make deeper playoff progress next spring.

Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.

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