Fan vs Fan

Friday, September 23, 2011

Paul Holmgren, Grading a GM: Part 1, 2006-07

So it's gone too far. Well it did a while back, but these last 2 days had 2 more total fuckups that I cannot explain. For me it is now impossible, in any type of good conscience, to support Paul Holmgren as GM of the Philadelphia Flyers.

To show how I've arrived this conclusion, I'm going to have a look Paul Holmgren's run as GM.

It started on October 22, 2006 when Bobby Clarke stepped down. This was the roster Holmgren iced for that first game:

Forwards (line combo's may not be accurate)

1 Gagne-Forsberg-Knuble
2 Umberger-Carter-Ruzicka
3 Calder-Richards-Kapanen
4 Eager-Robataille-Grant


1 Hatcher-Rathje
2 Guathier-Pitkanen
3 Lars Jonsson-Alex Picard

Antero Niitymaki
Robert Esche

Every single player from this roster is gone. Some left to UFA, some to waivers, the rest with trades, and Rathje/Hatcher retired as Flyers.

Using this transaction list:

I will grade every move made by Paul Holmgren ever. I will do this in the order that the above list places them in.


November 9, 2006To Philadelphia Flyers

Darren Reid
To Tampa Bay Lightning

Daniel Corso
November 13, 2006To Philadelphia Flyers

Todd Fedoruk
To Anaheim Ducks

4th-round pick in 2007
December 16, 2006To Philadelphia Flyers

Alexei Zhitnik
To New York Islanders

Freddy Meyer
conditional 3rd-round pick in 2007
December 20, 2006To Philadelphia Flyers

Mike York
To New York Islanders

Randy Robitaille
5th-round pick in 2008
February 15, 2007To Philadelphia Flyers

Ryan Parent
Scottie Upshall
1st-round pick in 2007
3rd-round pick in 2007
To Nashville Predators

Peter Forsberg
February 24, 2007To Philadelphia Flyers

Braydon Coburn
To Atlanta Thrashers

Alexei Zhitnik
February 26, 2007To Philadelphia Flyers

Lasse Kukkonen
3rd-round pick in 2007
To Chicago Blackhawks

Kyle Calder
February 27, 2007To Philadelphia Flyers

Martin Biron
To Buffalo Sabres

2nd-round pick in 2007

Reid for Corso: AHL prospect exchange, neither panned grade: N/A

Fedoruk for a 4th: Enforcer for a mid pick, a bit of an overpayment, but Holmgren was trying to make the team his and maybe avoid the tailspin, final grade: C

Zhitnik for Meyer/pick and Zhitnik for Coburn thereby the net gain being Meyer and pick for Coburn: And even this deal STILL keeps the final trade a steal. Holmgren made an even deal (Zhitnik/Meyer) and stole Braydon Coburn from the Thrashers; final grade A+.

York for Robataille and 5th: Mike York provided a guy who had been a 40-50 point player earlier in his career for Robataille who was on face for about 50 points with the Flyers before being dealt. York however had been part of a stellar PK group earlier in his career and was a better 2-way player. (salary numbers for 06-07 were unavailable) Grade: C+ Holmgren was trying to move things around to get something to work. He had very little to work with and it showed.

Forsberg for Parent/Upshall/1st/3rd: Forsberg was on the downside of this career, Upshall and Parent had decent upsides and the 1st round pick was turned into Timonen and Hartnell. When this deal was made, it was obviously done for the future and accomplished just that. Sadly, it was Parent who came over in the trade and not any of the other "better" Preds Defenseman. Still, developing players isn't the job of the GM so this deal gets an A-.

Kukkonen and a pick for Calder: Kukkonen had his moments, Calder sucked the pick was Garret Klotz. Nothing big happened here. No loss either. Grade is a C.

Martin Biron for a 2nd: A second round pick for a goalie who had 2 very good seasons at the Flyers starter. Biron wasn't elite, but he was a big part of the Flyers deep playoff run in 2008 and in terms of SV%, had a better 2009 playoff run. Biron wasn't the answer,  but a 2nd round pick for what he delivered is still a big win: Final Grade: A-

Next up: Waivers:

Claimed off waivers
December 30, 2006Dmitry AfanasenkovTampa Bay (NHL)
January 11, 2007Michael LeightonNashville (NHL)
February 27, 2007Denis HamelAtlanta (NHL)
Lost on waivers
November 11, 2006Marty MurrayLos Angeles (NHL)
January 2, 2006Petr NedvedEdmonton (NHL)
February 24, 2006Nolan BaumgartnerDallas (NHL)
February 27, 2006Michael LeightonMontreal (NHL)

These moves all made sense in given the rest of the roster and fitting under the cap. Everyone was replaced by someone better. Holmgren's working of the waiver wire is solid: B+

Holmgren also extended some contracts during 06-07:

November 29, 2006Mike Knuble2 years, $5.6 million extension
February 13, 2007Sami Kapanen2 years, $2.5 million extension
March 27, 2007Martin Biron2 years, $7 million extension

Knuble: 2.8 cap hit for a guy who was a PP specialist, solid 2nd line producer and dressing room positive influence, this signing gets a solid A.

Kapanen: a 4th line veteran making 1.25M against the cap. Kapanen also PK'd a lot. He was older and falling apart. He didn't keep anyone down, but didn't add much outside of PK either. This makes him slightly overpaid but not by much so the Final Grade is: B-

Martin Biron: 3.5M cap hit for a goalie who would give 50 starts and had a solid playoff run in 2008, and, in terms of SV% was much better in the 2009 playoffs. I would argue the Flyers lost in the 08 playoffs to Pittsburgh because of the Coburn/Timonen injuries (the top pair on defense) and not through any direct fault of Biron. 3.5M for a solid goalie, Final Grade, solid A.

I won't grade Holmgren's list of ELC's since the NHL caps ELC contracts on a special scale. The GM must operate within a scale and they're for the most part waiver exempt. So if an ELC doesn't work out, it's not Holmgren's fault since all these players were drafted by Bobby Clarke. That said, here's the list.

Signed to Entry Level contracts
May 28, 2006Frederik CabanaHalifax (QMJHL)Drafted 171st overall, 2004
May 30, 2006Steve DowniePeterborough (OHL)Drafted 29th overall, 2005
May 30, 2006Jussi TimonenSaiPa (SM-liiga)Drafted 146th overall, 2001
July 5, 2006Denis TolpekoRegina (WHL)Undrafted free agent
August 16, 2006Nate GueninOhio State (CCHA)Unsigned NY Rangers 2002 draft pick
September 23, 2006Oskars BartulisMoncton (QMJHL)Drafted 91st overall, 2005
March 15, 2007Kyle GreentreeAlaska Fairbanks (CCHA)Undrafted free agent
March 15, 2007Jon MatsumotoBowling Green State (CCHA)Drafted 79th overall, 2006

Note: only Greentree and Matsumoto are actual Holmgren offers.

Final 2006-07 Grade: B+

Rationale: Holmgren had nothing to work with in terms of the roster Bobby Clarke gave him. He turned several assests into big successes (Coburn, Biron, Knuble) but also would hinder himself with indirect moves from these (Briere, Timonen, Hartnell). Otherwise he set himself up for 2007-08 very well. It's not Holmgren's fault the Flyers picked 2nd and had to draft JvR instead of Calder winning Patrick Kane. But, on the other hand, imagine if Patrick Kane got to play 3rd wheel to Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. Who thinks that would be a problem?

Stay tuned for part 2, 2007-08 coming soon. It picks up on Draft Day 2007 and runs to Draft Day 2008

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