Ron Hextall was able to get some much needed cap relief on Saturday by dealing D Nicklas Grossman and the contract of Chris Pronger to Arizona for C Sam Gagner and a conditional pick in either 2016 or 2017. Yes, you heard that right. The Flyers were able to deal Grossman and the contract of Pronger, who has not been able to play since 2011, to the Coyotes, who were desperate to reach the cap floor.
Here are the tree questions you’re probably asking yourself.
Why Did Arizona agree to this deal?
For one, they get a solid stay-at-home defenseman in Nicklas Grossman. Grossman was not great for the Flyers last year. However, Arizona head coach Dave Tippett really liked Grossman, having coached him in Dallas. As for dealing a 40 point, 25 year old center, Gagner is now on his fourth team since joining the league, and Arizona GM Don Maloney said that they didn’t feel that Gagner fit on the team. He actually said, according to the Coyotes team site, “At the end of the day we just didn’t think he could play center at the National Hockey level.”  He didn’t say that he couldn’t play in the NHL; clearly he can. Maloney was specifically talking about the center position. The Pronger contract is included to give the Flyers some cap relief, and as mentioned earlier, the Coyotes needed to reach the cap floor. The NHL was OK with it, even having consulted on the deal.
How much cap space are the Flyers getting?
In the deal, the Flyers agreed to pick up $500,000 of Grossmann’s $3.5 million salary and take on $3.2 million of Gagner’s salary. The Flyers also move $4.9 million of Pronger’s cap hit. Pronger has two years remaining on his contract. The Flyers can either keep Gagner or buy him out, which would cost the Flyers $633,000 against the salary cap. The total cap savings would be $7.3 million if they buy him out and $4.7 million if they keep him. (via CSN Philly) GM Ron Hextall says that no decision on Gagner has been made yet. “We’ll talk about all of our options in the next few days. We’ll make decisions moving forward. We got to get our numbers in order. We’re a lot closer now.” The Flyers have until June 30 at 5:00 p.m. to buy out Gagner’s contract. Right now, if you asked me, I’d say there’s a 75 percent chance that we buy him out. That is based on nothing other than the thinking that, if the Flyers had their choice of forward making $3.2M, would they choose Gagner?

Can Gagner add something to the team this upcoming season?
It’s hard to say. Gagner was Arizona’s top scoring forward last season, which isn’t saying much, given the talent level among forwards on the team. And although he has played on both wings last season, he is a center. The very last thing we need is another center that we try to convert to a winger. Having said that, Hextall allowed that he is a skilled forward, and that is important in today’s NHL. We know that he’s pretty adept at the shootout, going at a 31 precent clip (19-62). But that is not a reason to keep him, in and of itself. He did seem to benefit from a change to RW last season. Based on his past performance, you pretty much know what you can expect: 10-15 goals and between 40-50 points.

Roland Alonzi

Public relations executive by career, hockey addict at heart. Give me a Gordie Howe hat trick any day and you get the first star of the night.

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