Katchis, Broad Street Hockey (7/2/10)
Despite being in the worst pain he ever experienced in his career, he always did his best out there. He was always the first guy to come back in his own end, to back check, to help out his teammates. He blocked shots, he dived to get the puck out of the zone, he was always out there, playing his heart out. This, besides his indisputable offensive skills, is something we should value and give him credit for. He's really one of the best two-way players you find in the league and also a great penalty killer. That is, if he is healthy. But that applies to every single hockey player.
My next point was briefly mentioned in the previous paragraph. That would be Simon's heart. There are only few guys that exemplify a devotion and a dedication to the team as Gagne does. His love for the Flyers is something that makes him very special. It is something that makes him suck up some pain, go out there and if it's needed, play on the broken foot. He plays for the team, for his teammates, for the fans, for the joy of the sport itself. He's not a hockey player for glory or money. With that said, I am more than 100% sure he would accept a paycut if it was needed from him. He loves being here just like we love having him here.
He's as injury prone as they come, but he was f***ing BALLS for them when he came back in the playoffs.
Allan Muir, Sports Illustrated (7/9/10)What's going on in Philadelphia? I read earlier this week that Simon Gagne waived his no-trade clause. Then I read [Thursday] that he disputed that claim. What's the story? If he was moved, what could the Flyers get in return?
-- Axel Porter, Quebec
Tough to say. My read on the situation is that he was approached by the Flyers to at least consider waiving his NTC for a certain number of teams. When the story leaked, it grew into a tale of his agreeing to simply waive it. Easy to see how that could happen, but when Gagne himself says, as he did on Thursday, that he hasn't agreed to forego that right, I think it's reasonable to take him at his word.
That said, I think it's clear that he's in play. The most likely destination? Los Angeles...at least, if the Kings are unable to land their top priority: Kovalchuk. (As of this writing, that appears unlikely, though it could change at any moment.) Blessed with a surplus of defensemen, the Kings might be willing to move Thomas Hickey, who was the fourth overall pick in 2007. That'd be a nice piece for Philly to add, considering that top defenders Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen are both 35. Still, the word is that the Flyers are considering replacing Gagne with Russian defector Nikolai Zherdev, a move that is, frankly, hard to fathom.
No doubt Zherdev has the talent to assume a top-six role, but unless he benefitted from a heart transplant while playing in Russia last season, it's hard to imagine him bringing honor to the black and orange. Nothing wrong with a bold move -- and bringing in Zherdev would quality -- especially if it's motivated by salary cap concerns. But Gagne's a warrior. For a team that has options, this seems like a questionable direction.
From the Kings perspective? It would be tough to give up on Hickey, but that's still a lot more palatable than spending money on streaky free agent "solutions" like Alexei Ponikarovsky or Lee Stempniak.
I know Thomas Hickey is fragile and all but there is no way I give him up for an equally fragile Simon Gagne, who is on the last year of his contract with $5.25 million remaining. I'd love to have Gagne on the team regardless because the dude is not just skilled, but also has the heart of a lion, and we can always use someone like that in the locker room.
I'm ok giving up Hickey, since we are deep with defense prospects. If we however do something like giving up Quick or Bernier, then I'm going to wonder what the hell Dean was thinking when he pulled the trigger. I think half the fight for us to become a real contender is based on either one of those guys to become a solid #1 goaltender.
Yes, I mentioned Hickey also has a reputation for being fragile, but he's young and has a better possibility of resolving that issue than Gagne does. Given the value of good young defenseman around the league, I'm reluctant to give him up until we see more from his development because he does have a very good chance of becoming a pretty good D-man with his skills and character; the injury bug is what seems to be stalling his progress right now.
It shouldn't take that much to trade for Gagne anyway since he has a no-trade clause and would only waive it to go to a team he likes (Lombardi connection) while the Flyers have to dump salary to fill out holes on their roster. Besides, I'd rather not extend Gagne until we see what he can do for us next year. I'm not saying he'd be the second coming of Cloutier but I'm not exactly thrilled with the idea of unnecessarily extending players with questionable long-term viability.