The Philadelphia reunion tour just keeps on truckin’.
After signing Ruslan Fedotenko in a 3rd-4th line/penalty killing role in the offseason, and signing Mike Knuble as a free agent during the season, Paul Holmgren completed the GM hat trick by trading a conditional draft pick for Simon Gagne.
Out of those three, Gagne would unquestionably expected to be the greatest contributor. He will most likely start out on the third line, since the first two lines of Hartnell-Giroux-Voracek and Schenn-Briere-Simmonds are both clicking right now.
In a way, acquiring Gagne doesn’t seem to make much sense when you consider that a healthy Matt Read would probably pass him on the depth chart, too. But then you have to remember what a healthy Simon Gagne is capable of once he wears that Flyers jersey. Let’s join the fans in taking a trip down
memory clutch lane with #12:
- In the 2003-04 Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay, he scored the game-winning goal in overtime to force a Game 7.
- On January 6, 2006, he took seven seconds to stun Madison Square Garden and the Rangers in overtime.
- In Game 4 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Bruins – down 0-3 in the series – he kept the Flyers’ season alive against the Boston Bruins by burying this redirection, once again in overtime.
- And then in Game 7, he finished what he started, showcasing his lightning-quick hands and quick release, with this top-shelf beauty to make history by becoming the first NHL team to win a playoff series down three games to none.
But that’s the past. What makes adding Simon Gagne a good decision right now?
He’s a solid two-way player. You have to be to thrive in Ken Hitchcock’s system, and he did just that during Hitchcock’s three seasons (and eight games) as the Philadelphia Flyers head coach, with 85 goals in 206 games.
He’s also healthy again. Or finally. Or finally again. Over his entire career, going way back to the 1999-00 season, Gagne’s games played have flucuated from lower to higher every season. If he holds true to his pattern, I can safely say he’ll play more than 34 games this season!
Gagne is also a left hand shot, which could make him a strong option on the second power play unit if Brayden Schenn stays on the first unit with Claude Giroux. Speaking of Giroux…
My favorite part about this reacquisition is remembering how much chemistry he had with a young, burgeoning Giroux. As I said before, the Flyers’ top two lines are both performing well right now. But if they start to slump, how long do you think it will take Peter Laviolette to shake things up?
If that shake-up were to include moving a scorching-hot Jakub Voracek to spark the second line, then that might open up a spot for Gagne to re-create moments like this:
If Giroux can turn Scott Hartnell into a 37-goal scorer, then it’s not beyond reason that he could revitalize a healthy Simon Gagne.
Philadelphia is looking forward to all of the new clutch goals we can see from him. Welcome back home, Simon.
Growing up in Levittown, PA, Matthew learned to love the Philadelphia Flyers and NHL hockey at a young age. He now writes his analysis of all things hockey for The Hockey Writers.