While Dallas Stars fans focus on the need for offense in the wake of the Ribeiro trade, or the realization that Steve Ott and Brenden Morrow may not be top-six wingers on a playoff team, it's the defense that could be altered the most significantly come July 1st with a deft move or two to change the mix.
With Sheldon Souray's status up in the air it's safe to say the Stars will add at least one body on the blue line in free agency, or else rely on unproven rookies from the AHL level. Today we ask if Matt Carle is the answer for the Stars in the free agent pool.
He's 27 years old and should be entering, or already in, the prime of his career. He had 38 points last season with a good Philadelphia squad, good enough for top-20 among defensemen in the league, was just a +4 on the year and scored only four goals.
The Flyers are looking to re-sign him, with Ryan Suter reportedly already ruling out Philadelphia as a possible destination, and he'll be looking for a significant raise in pay after earning $3.8 million last year, particularly in the wake of the Dennis Wideman contract Calgary set a precedent with on Wednesday.
Continued after the jump...
Further reading from Broad Strete Hockey: Philadelphia Flyers Already Have Ryan Suter In Matt Carle
"How effective was Carle at generating offense? Only Keith and Doughty ended their shifts in the offensive zone more frequently than Carle. But since we know strict percentage of offensive zone finishes is heavily dependent upon how often one starts there, we look at balanced zone shift. In terms of offensive zone finishes above expected, only Zdeno Chara was better." [Read more effervescent, possibly over the top praise of Carle here at BSH]
Josh took a look at Matt Carle and how he stacked up against the rest of the top-end UFA defensive class, and while Carle's minutes weren't the toughest in the world, they weren't bad, and his offensive even strength totals are impressive enough.
"Last year Carle was 16th in defenseman even strength scoring. Given his ability to play a little bit of defense he would be a solid addition to any defensive corps, but he's destined to get overpaid because of that offensive ability." [More from Josh on UFA D-men here]
James Wisniewski's deal is $5.5 million a year. Brent Burns makes $5.76 million a year. Seabrook gets $5.8 million. Yandle earns $5.25 million. There's a chance that Wideman's contract, depending on whether you believe he's a second or third pairing quality guy, is just what the market value is for top-four defensemen when they hit their UFA years.
Philadelphia fans think Carle, in that context, could be worth upwards of $6 million on the open market, and with options dwindling (goodbye Wideman, Gill) they may not be far off, even though that same group has accused him of benefiting from the presence of Chris Pronger, or that he's careless with the puck at times.
At 6-0 and 205 he's not a particularly big body and would join a group of similarly sized, similarly skilled group in GOligoski, Daley and Robidas. He played with Pronger when Pronger was healthy because it made sense to pair someone of his ilk with a big, stay at home type like that. Is that the type of player the Stars need to add to their mix right now? The conventional wisdom says no, and the prohibitive nature of his price might be pretty far down on the list of reasons the Stars actually don't pursue this one.
"Paul Holmgren is on the record saying he believes Carle will sign in Philadelphia under market value, and there's a possibility that Carle and the Flyers already have a agreement in place. The only reason the Flyers cannot sign a deal with Carle pre-July 1 is tagging space, but that's really just a formality.
But even if the Flyers did have an agreement in place with Carle, he and his agent would be silly not to rip that up and start over. Not after the Flames just gave more than $5 million per year to Dennis Wideman."
Philadelphia's a great situation and a great place to be under contract now if you like winning, and my naive sports brain tends to want to believe that winning is the guiding star for professional athletes. It should surprise no one if he signs there, but the temptation for bigger money may be too great. The market is too seductive right now after the Wideman contract.
Philadelphia, Detroit, Toronto, Nashville, Washington and others have been said to be interested in his services, so it will likely take a bidding war to get him, though the Flyers still seem like his ultimate destination. Are you interested, Stars fans?