A Memorable Day for the Flyers

Published on June 23rd, 2011

by Mike del Tufo

The Philadelphia Flyers short on salary cap space and draft picks in the 2011 Entry Draft, which is this weekend, made two blockbuster trades:

1. They traded center Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for right wing Jakub Voracek along with a first-round (8th overall) and third-round (68th overall) selection in this week’s 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
2. They traded center Michael Richards to the Los Angeles Kings for center Brayden Schenn, right wing Wayne Simmonds and a 2nd round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

They then followed these trades up with the signing of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a lucrative long-term contract.  According to NHL.com, the deal is for $51 million over 9 years.  They had acquired the rights to Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes back on June 7th. 

June 23, 2011 is arguably the most eventful day for major transactions by the Flyers ever. 

They traded away two major pieces of the team for the last 6 years in Carter and Richards.  They were expected to be cornerstones of the franchise for many more years.  Carter signed an 11-year, $58 million contract extension on November 13, 2010, and Richards signed a 12-year contract extension worth $69 million on December 13, 2007.  They are both 26 years old and in the primes of their careers.  Trading both of them was stunning but not entirely unexpected as rumors had swirled regarding both of them since the end of the Flyers’ season.

Jeff Carter is now a Blue Jacket

Carter seemed to be much less effective in the post-season when the intensity of games was much more heightened.  In the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he notched just a goal and an assist in 6 games.  Over his 6 years as a Flyer, he scored only 13 goals and 8 assists in 47 playoff games.  His ability to score dirty goals and battle through rough play in the playoffs had been questioned.  He did, however, notch three seasons of 30+ goals including 46 in 2008-09.  His departure leaves in a void in the goal-scoring department.

Richards had been the team’s captain since 2008.  He had battled through some injuries during the 2010-11 season and was not as effective in the playoffs this season as he was during the 2009-10 playoffs when he scored 23 points in 23 games.  His adversarial relationship with the Philadelphia media made some also wonder if he should be captain of the team.  He, however, was debatably the team’s most versatile player who could score (2 seasons of 30+ goals), set up his teammates (3 seasons of 40+ assists), and fight.  He also saw power-play time as well as penalty-kill and was strong in the face-off circle.

Mike Richards is now a King

The Flyers did get ample in return for both Carter and Richards.

They were slated to make their 1st pick in this year’s entry draft in the 3rd round at #84.  They now have the 8th overall pick and another 3rd round pick at #68 before that.  In what is considered a decent draft, this should help re-stock a depleted system. 

Voracek is only 21-years old and was the 8th overall selection in the 2007 entry draft.  In 80 games for the Blue Jackets last season, he scored 14 goals and added 32 assists for 46 points.  This young Czech has a lot of upside. 

Schenn is a mere 19-years old and was the 5th overall selection in the 2009 entry draft.  He is a very highly-touted prospect after just completing a four-year career in the Western Hockey League this past season, where he posted a total of 116 goals and 199 assists for 315 points in 224 games, mostly with the Brandon Wheat Kings.  In the 2011 World Junior Championships, he tied a Team Canada all-time record for most points by a player in the tournament with eight goals and 10 assists for 18 points in just seven games.  He was named the tournament’s most valuable player.  Schenn will make an impact with the Flyers maybe as soon as the 2011-12 season.

Simmonds is 22-years old and was selected by the Kings in the second round (61st overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  He is known more for his fists than for his hockey skill but he still recorded 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points in 80 games for Los Angeles last season.  In 240 games for the Kings over the past three seasons (2008-11), he has scored a total of 39 goals and 54 assists for 93 points while collecting 264 PIM.

They also finally acquired the franchise goalie they have long been seeking in Bryzgalov.  He has been tremendous in net the last two seasons for the Coyotes putting up Vezina-type numbers.  He has not been that impressive in net in the playoffs but the strong Flyers’ defense could help remedy that.

The Flyers got a lot younger today, acquired a pair of very important draft picks for this weekend, and freed up some vital cap space so they can perhaps re-sign talented free agent forward Ville Leino and maybe even make another move.  They also cleared up any confusion as to who is their #1 goaltender.  They did, however, part with two long-time Flyers who gave a lot to the team since 2005.  It has been a day no Flyers fan will soon forget.

Flyers new goalie Bryzgalov

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