Defenseman Carle looking for a sign from Flyers

Posted: February 09, 2012

WITH EACH new contract that is inked in the NHL, an email is sent to every member of the NHLPA with the pertinent details.

Over the past few weeks, new emails have popped up on Flyers defenseman Matt Carle's iPhone with the dollar figures of unrestricted free agents who have chosen not to test the market on July 1 as the NHL's trade deadline nears on Feb. 27.

Yesterday, it was Vinny Prospal, who signed a 1-year extension worth $2.5 million to stay in Columbus. On Tuesday, Carle read about Frans Nielsen's 4-year, $11 million deal with the Islanders.

On Jan. 30, it was valuable trade commodity Tim Gleason - a fellow defenseman - who re-upped in Carolina with a 4-year deal worth $16 million. Toronto's Jean-Michael Liles (4 years, $15.5 million) and Anaheim's Francois Beauchemin (3 years, $10.5 million), both defensemen, avoided potential unrestricted free agency.

And Carle, skating in the final season of his own 4-year deal for $13.75 million, has kept an eye on all of them.

"You certainly keep track of the potential market," Carle said yesterday. "Anytime somebody signs, whether it's a forward, defenseman or goalie, you're interested to see what's going on with other guys around the league.

"That's just being a fan, I guess."

It's tough to say if Carle is a fan of the precedent being set by those deals or not, but watching Gleason - a less talented, more defensive-minded player - collect a 50 percent raise certainly can't hurt his situation.

Carle's teammate, Braydon Coburn, drew a 40 percent raise on his new deal in November.

There are two schools of thought about the current trend of players signing new deals before the trade deadline, which is now 18 days away: (1) the market for defensemen is scarce, which is adding value to players who could walk at the end of the season; (2) that a pending labor impasse, with a CBA that is set to expire on Sept. 15, may have an impact on this summer's free-agent frenzy, causing players to instead sign early.

The trouble is the Flyers aren't exactly sure what the salary-cap picture - not to mention Chris Pronger's contract status - will look like once a new bargaining agreement is brokered.

Carle's agent, Denver-based Kurt Overhardt, made it clear when contacted in December that he was not interested in publicly commenting on his player's contract status.

At this point, it is unclear whether any serious negotiations have taken place. The belief is that if Carle holds off until July 1, he could cash in a contract not far from the 6-year, $33 million deal that James Wisniewski stole in Columbus.

Carle, 27, and Wisniewski, 28 later this month, are more similar players than the others who have signed. Wisniewski posted 81 points over the last two seasons. Carle is just behind him with 75.

Then again, Carle reiterated yesterday that he'd like to stay in Philadelphia.

"The general consensus is that hopefully something works out here," Carle said. "That's what my main focus is, wanting to be here. My wife [Clancey] and I love it here. Looking back on it, getting traded here [from Tampa Bay] was a huge blessing in disguise. This organization is a place where, no matter what, they're going to be making moves to be a contender. You want to be a part of an organization that is committed to that."

Pronger visits

Matt Carle guessed that the last time he saw defense partner Chris Pronger was at the team's Christmas party in December.

Pronger, 36, is still out for the season with concussion-like symptoms, but he unexpectedly showed up at the practice facility in Voorhees, N.J., before practice yesterday to catch up with his teammates.

Pronger, who hung around for about 90 minutes, has not played a game since Nov. 19 in Winnipeg. He has not yet publicly discussed his trying situation. And even his teammates haven't communicated much with him.

"He wanted to know how we were doing," Carle said. "He asked how I was playing with 'Bizz' and about our defensive rotations.

"He was more concerned with us than himself, it seemed like. So it was good to see him today. His spirits are up, it seems, so you just try to get better every day."

Carle and coach Peter Laviolette both said Pronger didn't look visibly different than the last time they saw him. On Dec. 15, he was declared out for the balance of the regular season and playoffs - a mandate that doesn't seem like it will change.

Still, Carle said everyone in the locker room could empathize with what Pronger has been experiencing over the past 3 months. Pronger told Carle he took a vacation during the All-Star break, which may have enabled him to charge his batteries enough to string together a few "good days" in a row to make an appearance.

"I'm sure you kind of get antsy," Carle said. "I think that's kind of what he's going through. He's home every day and he doesn't have a whole lot going on. Hopefully [visiting us] helps him out."

Slap shots

Forward Harry Zolnierczyk was reassigned to AHL Adirondack last night, which freed up a roster space that likely will be filled by James van Riemsdyk's return to the lineup. Van Riemsdyk was previously on the injured reserve . . . Zolnierczyk, who has five points in 36 games, won't have to go far as the Phantoms are practicing at 11 o'clock today at the Skate Zone in Voorhees on their way to Norfolk, Va., for a weekend set . . . Mike Richter, a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey clown by the same name as the 1994 Stanley Cup-winning goaltender, donned the pads and took shots from three Flyers yesterday to promote the circus' upcoming run at the Wells Fargo Center from Feb. 22-27.


For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at

www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

 

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