When rookie GM Steve Yzerman traded Matt Walker and a fourth round draft pick for sniper Simon Gagne this past summer, I think the consensus was that it was a terrific trade. Because the Philadelphia Flyers were so cap-strapped, they were forced to give away a long-serving warrior and consistent scoring threat for below straight-trade value, and the Tampa Bay Lightninggot a top-six forward for very little: a mid-round pick and a defenceman they could afford to lose.
And how has that trade worked out for everyone?
Walker underwent hip surgery in late October and hasn't played a game this year. It's expected that when he returns, probably in 2011, he'll be somewhere around the eighth spot on their blueline depth chart.
In Tampa, Gagne failed to record a point and was -8 through six games, before being lost to a neck injury. There was some muttered speculation that the term "neck injury" is sometimes used to cover up concussions, but nothing further has come of that speculation. We've been teased for a while about Simon's imminent return, but so far nothing. And when he returns, will he provide anything at all?
So how does the trade look now? (More after the jump).
This was a low-risk trade for both teams. The Flyers were losing a leader and proven scoring threat, but one that they couldn't afford, was concussion-prone, and would be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Tampa wasn't giving up much, and if Gagne proved to be more dud than stud, they could let him walk at season's end. Plus, they made an important splash in the media and gained themselves some much-needed cred.
So no one lost much in this trade, but so far no one has gained. Anything.
There's still a lot of hockey to be played this season, and Gange could come storming back from this neck thing to put up solid numbers, but it looks like he's already missed the boat on blowing us away and making this one of the best trades in team history.
However, because so little was given up, it will also never rank as one of the team's worst trades (which usually involve trading a player with a 2004 Cup ring for a goalie who fails to live up to expectations).
This trade instead looks like it will be a nothing trade: both teams lose little and gain little. The only thing that makes this trade different from a swap of, say, a couple AHL players, is the expectations it created. And Simon Gagne and his sore neck are running out of time to even approach meeting those expectations.