With Hamhuis on his way to Philadelphia, is Braydon Coburn available?

Today, the Philadelphia Flyers traded the rights to RFA defenseman Ryan Parent and a conditional second round pick to the Nashville Predators for the rights to UFA defenseman Dan Hamhuis. The Flyers now have 11 days to sign Hamhuis before he hits the market as an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

Trades like this aren't uncommon; just last year the Florida Panthers traded UFA Jay Bouwmeester's rights to the Calgary Flames for Jordan Leopold and a third round pick. The trade gave Calgary a three day window of exclusivity to negotiate with Bouwmeester, who ultimately signed with the team before July 1st hit. Because of this, we'd assume that Philadelphia General Manager Paul Holmgren is confident he can get Hamhuis under contract before the exclusivity window comes to a close.

The exact trade for Hamhuis was explored by Philadelphia and Nashville at the 2010 trade deadline, but was axed for multiple reasons. After the season, Holmgren finally got the player he was looking for. However, that player will come at a significant cost.

Dan Hamhuis was one of the top three free agent defensemen on the market this off-season, and would have likely had multiple suitors, a list that would have included the San Jose Sharks. Hamhuis is expected to command an investment of over $4.0MM annually, and it's assumed that he'll sign with Philadelphia for somewhere in the $4.0MM - $4.5MM per year price range. That leaves them in a bit of a sticky situation, a situation which San Jose GM Doug Wilson can exploit.

Based on last year's cap ceiling, Philadelphia has just 17 players under contract with only a tad over $8.0MM in space to fill out the roster. Assuming Hamhuis will eat up around half of that money, Philadelphia is going to have to send some contracts out of town, especially if they want to bring in a better goaltender (something that has been mentioned repeatedly).

Although many believe that Jeff Carter and his $5.0M 2010-2011 salary will be sent packing, Bob McKenzie isn't so sure. Via his twitter account @TSNBobMckenzie:

It has been suggested to me that there's no chance Jeff Carter will be odd man out in PHI. More likely to be someone else. Interesting.

Being as McKenzie is one of Fear The Fin's trusted hockey pundits, we're going with him on this one. (Although, if it is Carter who's out, we'd be interested in that as well, dude is a beast) If Carter stays, where does Philadelphia free up some cash?

Talk around town is that a defenseman will be moved, as Philadelphia has Chris Pronger ($4.9MM), Kimmo Timonen ($6.3MM) and Matt Carle ($3.47MM) under contract. They also have control over RFA Braydon Coburn, who made $1.3MM last year and will more than double that number on a new contract. One of these guys has to be moved, especially with Dan Hamhuis coming into the fold. It's unlikely that Philadelphia would be able to pay a bottom pairing defenseman over $3.0MM annually and remain under the cap.That last pairing is unlikely to see many minutes, anyways, with the talent in the top four.

We at FTF believe it's either former Shark Matt Carle or FTF favorite Braydon Coburn who gets moved. Carle seems like the safe bet of the two to stay, though, for a few reasons. First, Carle really formed a bond with Chris Pronger throughout the season and into the playoffs; the pairing was very strong for the Flyers all year. Second, Carle is really the best offensive threat on the blueline; if they go with a top four of Pronger, Timonen, Coburn and Hamhuis, they become really one dimensional. We take that to mean that Carle won't be jumping to his fourth team in three years; we assume the Flyers don't want to add another piece on defense in that scenario after just adding Hamhuis and trading Carle.

That leaves Coburn the likely player to be moved, and we couldn't be happier. In fact, we proposed that the Sharks get involved in the Hamhuis to Philadelphia deal when it was proposed at the deadline. Here's a snippet:

Last night, a deal involving Ryan Parent (PHI) and Dan Hamhuis (NSH) was scrapped because Nashville reportedly wanted a forward in return. Both Parent and Braydon Coburn have been mentioned in trade speculation this week by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Braydon Coburn is a tough minutes defenseman, who plays a physical style and can be counted on to shut down opposing teams top lines. He hits, blocks shots, and works tirelessly in the corners. Offensively he is relatively unsung, but he moves the puck well up the ice with strong breakout passes, and has a very good shot from the point. He would easily play on San Jose’s power play, likely on the second unit with Rob Blake to provide a lefty-righty dynamic that would faciliate one-timers.

24 years old with a $1.3 M cap hit, an RFA in July. Would likely come in at around $3.0 M per year as his stock has dropped this season. Legitimate top four defenseman in years to come, and if paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic, would provide San Jose one of the best shutdown duos in the Western Conference, both this year and well into the future.

- Mr. Plank, Trade Targets: Braydon Coburn

Of course, some of this argument is invalid now that Blake has retired... they won't be playing together in this life time. However, the base of the analysis is solid. In essence, the Sharks would be picking up the kind of guy that we have pined for for over a year. Although Hamhuis brings the experience, Coburn is cheaper and just went through four grueling rounds of the NHL playoffs.

With Philadelphia in a bind, the Sharks could likely pry Coburn away for next to nothing. A goaltending prospect and a late draft pick? We think Philadelphia pulls the trigger, mostly because they can't really absorb any additional salary at this point. They are going to take the best package they can get that doesn't require a dollar commitment on their end. A trade like this would also mean that Ryane Clowe, the Sharks lone trade chip, could be used in a separate deal to further upgrade the defense and add goaltending. We've talked internally about a deal for Josh Harding and Brent Burns of the Minnesota Wild, but that's another discussion for another day. A move for Coburn also wouldn't prevent the Sharks from submitting an offersheet to Niklas Hjalmarsson, but it's likely Wilson would look for another puck mover if Coburn was acquired.

The shrewd GM that he is, we assume that Doug Wilson is exploring this possibility as we type, along with many others. If this specific scenario came to fruition, though, it would go along way in improving the Sharks defense next year and for years to come. The week leading up to the draft should be crazy.

 

Go Sharks.

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