Simon came home.
The Flyers announced today that they have traded a conditional draft pick for winger Simon Gagne, who returns to the team after stints with the Lightning and defending-champion L.A. Kings.
Although fans are sure to embrace Gagne immediately upon his return, it’s left to be determined how he will affect the makeup of the team. The seven-time 20+ goal scorer is averaging a career low 13:46 of ice time per game this season, 1:46 of which was with a man advantage. According to behindthenet.ca, Gagne has also been sheltered by match-ups this season. His shifts have started in the offensive zone 62% of the time at even strength, often against one of the opponent’s weaker lines. On the season he’s tallied 0 goals and 5 assists in 11 appearances.
Gagne was presumably brought back to help fill the gap left by top-six forward Matt Read, who was leading the team in goals at the time of his injury. It’s unlikely that Gagne will be asked to kill penalties, but it’s almost certain that he will find some ice time on the power play. Gagne will likely be placed on the second unit, which should help take some of the offensive pressure off of Sean Couturier. Couturier is a visibly skilled player with the puck, but despite 36 shots on goal, he has netted just 2 so far this season. Gagne’s possession and passing skill will ideally help to create more space for Couturier around the crease and behind the net.
While nostalgia and respect for a Flyer great may have fans overly excited about the move, this trade is probably not a move that will “save the season,” so it may be best to temper expectations. On the other hand, it is inconceivable that bringing back Gagne could substantially hurt the Flyers. His contract is up at the end of the season, so there are no cap ramifications. He took a lesser role with dignity in L.A., so it’s unlikely that he’ll cause problems in the locker room because of ice time. The Flyers are hurting for depth at wing anyway, and have almost no offensive creativity among any of the current 3rd or 4th line wingers. In all, this is a low-risk, low-reward move.