Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren is viewed by many fans as a genius. His trades have worked out, for the most part, but he is really lucky to still have his job.
The Flyers were in the conference finals two seasons ago, which proves that the team was close to being complete. During the offseason, however, Holmgren decided to trade away captain Mike Richards and goal scorer Jeff Carter for some very young prospects.
Holmgren decided to trade away the two young pillars that the team was built around. When Richards and Carter were traded away, the Flyers received very inexperienced players in return. Not only did Holmgren get a group of young players for his two superstars, he made some free-agent moves as well.
Holmgren brought in goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and signed the 31-year-old goalie to a massive nine-year deal. During the offseason, Holmgren also signed the aging superstar Jaromir Jagr for his return to the NHL.
Starting the 2011-12 season, the Flyers had high hopes because they believed they finally had the elite goalie they had always wanted. While on the surface the Flyers were confident with their roster, the team was still filled with question marks.
Holmgren replaced his two superstars with a number of rookie and second-year players. All of the young players were very highly-touted prospects, but, as prospects, they are all unproven commodities.
Bryzgalov had some success in Phoenix, but when a goalie comes to Philadelphia, no one can ever be sure of the outcome. Thirty-nine year-old Jaromir Jagr was one of the top goal scorers in the league, but with his age and-two year absence from the NHL, nobody could predict how his return would go.
The Flyers and Holmgren have benefited greatly from their rookies playing much better than expected. Many rookies and young players struggle in their transition to the big leagues. Luckily for the Flyers, their young players have played nothing like rookies.
Flyers rookies have played for a combined 346 games this season, which shows how much the team has depended on their young players. Not only do the rookies play a lot of games, but they account for 22.7 percent of Philly's goals, which is the most in the league by far.
Jaromir Jagr has had a season that has exceeded expectations. Jagr has racked up 45 points in 57 games played, which is impressive production for a man who turned 40 years old halfway through the season.
Bryzgalov did not have a great start in Philadelphia. When Bryzgalov struggled from the start, many people started to question his abilities as the netminder. They also questioned why Holmgren would give a goalie such a huge contract. Luckily for the Flyers, and for Holmgren, Bryzgalov has started to play at a high level.
If the risks that Holmgren took had not panned out, the diehard Philadelphia fans would have been demanding a replacement for Holmgren. Luckily for the Flyers and Holmgren, all of the risks have paid off and Holmgren looks like a genius.