“On the same day the Flyers introduced newly signed right wing Nikolai Zherdev to the Philadelphia media via conference call, the agent for left wing Simon Gagne confirmed he has been granted permission by the Flyers to speak to teams interested in trading for his client.
The Flyers are hoping Zherdev, who has averaged 0.65 points per game in his five-year NHL career, can give them the same kind of offensive punch they expect to lose from trading Gagne, who averaged .79 points per game in his 10-year career with the Flyers but has missed 83 games to injury over the past three seasons.
But the real reason Zherdev is a Flyer and Gagne is on the verge of becoming an ex-Flyer is their salaries. By signing Zherdev to a one-year, $2 million contract Friday, the Flyers became the first NHL team to exceed the league’s $59.4 million salary cap.
In fact, they are close to $2.5 million over the cap and have put themselves in a position of having to trade Gagne, who has one year and $5.25 million remaining on a five-year contract he signed in 2006.
Since acquiring Zherdev, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has been unable to find a deal for Gagne that meets Gagne’s requirements — he has provided the Flyers a list of desirable teams — while meeting the Flyers’ need of not taking on additional salary.
If Gagne’s agent, Bob Sauve, can solicit some interest in Gagne — the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs are believed to have the most interest — the Flyers can then decide on whether to accept a player in return or pay a portion of Gagne’s 2010-11 salary.
There is still talk that if the Flyers are able to unload Gagne’s salary, they may be able to free enough cap space to swing a deal for free agent goaltender Marty Turco, who has received little interest outside of Philadelphia.
Regardless of what happens with Gagne, the Flyers have invested at least one season in Zherdev, who told reporters Wednesday that he is determined to prove he belongs in the NHL after bolting to Russia to play one season in the Kontinental Hockey League.”