TAMPA, Fla. – Simon Gagne gladly waived his no-trade clause to leave the only NHL team he ever played for and join the Tampa Bay Lightning.
New Lightning GM Steve Yzerman added a big offensive chip to his club by trading for the longtime Philadelphia Flyers forward Monday. Tampa Bay sent defenceman Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick in next year’s draft for Gagne, who spent 10 seasons with the Flyers.
“In adding Simon to the Lightning, we acquire a very talented player that will play alongside our top forwards,” Yzerman said in a statement. “With his combination of speed and skill we are excited to have him with us and grateful he was willing to waive his no movement clause.
“This trade not only makes us a better team in the short term, it helps create long-term flexibility for us, which all along has been one of our top priorities.”
In 664 NHL games, Gagne has 259 goals and 265 assists. He ranks ninth on the Flyers’ career list in goals and 10th in points and games played.
He had 17 goals and 23 assists in 58 games last season and added nine goals and three assists in 19 playoff games as Philadelphia reached the Stanley Cup final before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
Gagne is eligible to become a free agent after next season.
“I’m very excited right now,” Gagne said. “I’m looking at this opportunity as a new challenge and a new start. Tampa Bay was a team I was more than willing to waive my no-move clause.”
The six-foot-four, 215-pound Walker has played in 304 career regular season games over seven seasons. The 30-year-old Alberta native was originally selected by the St. Louis Blues in the third round of the 1998 draft.
Walker had two goals, three assists and 90 penalty minutes in 66 games last season with the Lightning. While with St. Louis, Chicago and Tampa Bay, Walker amassed four goals, 26 assists and 444 penalty minutes.
“We like the way Matt plays,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said. “He’s a character-intense player.
“He plays physical. He’s a stay-at-home guy that is a good penalty killer. On our team he can buy us dirty minutes and not be a liability, but be a positive force and help and defend our own zone.”
Walker said he has “always wanted to play in Philly” and that he would be a “good fit” with the Flyers.
“My initial reaction was pure excitement,” Walker said.
The 30-year-old Gagne, chosen by Philadelphia with the No. 22 pick in the 1998 NHL draft, led the Flyers in goals three times—including two 40-goal seasons—and twice in points. He was chosen as the team’s MVP in two seasons and was selected to the NHL all-star game twice.
“Anytime you’re talking about a young man that has brought as much to the organization that Simon has, it’s very difficult,” Holmgren said of dealing Gagne.
Gagne, who scored a career-best 47 goals during the 2005-’06 season, scored the winning goal in overtime of Game 4 against Boston in the second round and the decisive goal in Game 7 of that series to complete Philadelphia’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit.