|On Saturday, the Flyers traded defenseman Freddy Meyer and a conditional draft pick to the New York Islanders for defenseman Alexei Zhitnik. The draft pick is reported to be the Islanders' choice of either a third-round pick in the 2007 draft or a second-round pick in 2008.|
When I told my significant other about this move, her first reaction was, "Seriously, are they trying to finish last overall?" I couldn't have said it better myself.
I'm still trying to figure this one out. Each time that I look at it, though, the answer is the same -- this trade makes zero sense. In trading away Meyer, the team is losing a young, swift, tenacious puck-moving defenseman who, oh by the way, is making just $525,000 this year. You are also losing an upper-round draft pick, which is not an insignificant loss given the salary cap.
In acquiring Zhitnik, the team is getting a defenseman who is on the downside of his career, is making $3.5 million for this year AND the next two, but one who can also move the puck and help the younger defensemen on the team learn how to play in both ends of the rink.
All in all, I don't like this trade. I don't hate it as much as I did when I first read about it, but I definitely don't like it. With Mike Rathje going on the long-term injury list -- and probably retiring -- that was $3.5 million that the Flyers gained in cap space. Not any more. Zhitnik's contract eats that space up through 2009, at which point Zhitnik will be 36 years old. (Meyer will be 28 in 2009.)
It's no secret that chemistry is an important ingredient in putting together a winning team. Chemistry is not something that can be forced -- it just happens. A team either has it or it doesn't. That being said, chemistry can also take a little while to develop. Given the Flyers group of young defensemen -- Jones (25), Meyer (25), Jonsson (24), Pitkanen (23), Timonen (23), and Picard (21) -- it's not unreasonable to think this group of defensemen could have learned how to play together and to play well together. (Should we not also mention that all six are the type of swift, puck-moving defenseman that most teams covet?) At that point, if it behooved the club to move one of them, a lot more could have been gained than an aging, overpaid defenseman.
Labels: Flyers, hockey, Islanders