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10 July 2007

Rathje won't quit!

Just when Philadelphia fans thought the blueline for next season was complete, depth and all, the 33 year old Mike Rathje, along with his massive $3.5 million contract, seems to be headed back towards the NHL. Nothing is definite yet, but Rathje has had surgery to correct a nagging sports hernia injury and is trying his best to make a comeback in the NHL after being limited to only 3 full games last year. Paul Holmgren has made it clear that he would welcome back Rathje if his physical status was up to the task.

Here's where it gets shakey for the Philly-phaithful. If Rathje is taken off the long term IR, his $3.5 million salary will make the Flyers go over the $50.3 million cap (they are currently $1.3 under and have been seeking an enforcer to replace Todd Fedoruk). That being said, if Rathje returns, there will have to be some form of a salary dump to make room for him.

But salary issues are not the only thing that's bogus about this situation. The Flyers have, currently, the following defensemen in the lineup for next year:
Kimmo Timonen
Derian Hatcher
Jason Smith
Braydon Coburn
Lasse Kukkonen
Alexandre Picard
Randy Jones (we're already over 6 here people...)
Denis Gauthier
Ryan Parent (top prospect)

Including Rathje, that's a total of 10 (that's right 10) defensemen. Not much that Holmgren can do about having Rathje under contract (thanks Bob Clarke) for a couple more years, but if Rathje returns to the lineup, it may be a while before young, developing players such as Ryan Parent, Randy Jones, and Alexandre Picard get a solid job in the NHL. It's bad for thier development and bad for the cap! I'm sorry to say, but if Rathje returns, Gauthier might be finding himself the odd man out among veteran defensemen on this team.

2 fanatics have replied:

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

Rathje's very effective when healthy, hey, if you can't use him, I'm sure some other team could.

JD FLYGUY said...

I definitely agree that Rathje is an effective defenseman. The only thing is, now it's kind of coming down to a Gauthier/Rathje decision (preference wise). Now that the Flyers have lost Fedoruk officially, Gauthier is one of the resedential enforcers. He tends to be pretty smart defensively too. Rathje moves a little slower than Gauthier, but tends to be a bit better defensively. It all just boils down to preference :)

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