Every player who has ever played for the Philadelphia Flyers and moved on from the team has a story to tell and a small legacy to contribute to the franchise.
Sometimes the departures are welcome. Other times, trades are made out of disappointing necessity, or because the team must take a gamble on a new player.
Any franchise can relate to the complexities of losing players, as some departed teammates go on to thrive and others fade away. But every now and then, a familiar face makes a return as the team once again finds a place for him on the roster.
The Flyers brought in one long-lost son this offseason in the form of Ruslan Fedotenko, but here are eight more players who once played for the Flyers and would find themselves very useful playing for the current squad.
It is not a glorified role, but being a good backup goalie is invaluable.
While teams like St. Louis have made the starting-goalie tandem work, some big-name goaltenders simply do not do well with a fiery backup breathing down their necks (see: Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky). Some goalies require a cut-and-dry backup to shoulder just a little bit of the load.
The Flyers may have that in Michael Leighton, but no goalie in recent Philly history was more perfectly suited for the reliable backup role than Brian Boucher.
Boosh, currently a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, has served two tenures with the Flyers and has proved to be a solid backup despite his occasional soft goal. He kept the Flyers alive in the 2010 playoffs while Michael Leighton dealt with an injury.
Boucher would fit right into Leighton’s skates again, especially if Leighton has a starting role on his mind.
During his time with the Flyers, Asham proved not only to be a tough guy, but he could also score the occasional surprising goal.
Philly’s current fighter is Zac Rinaldo, who has the heart of a lion but lacks the size to throw down with hockey’s big enforcers. Asham would bring a little extra muscle without rendering the fourth line totally incapable of offensive production.
Of course, Asham and Brayden Schenn would need to make amends first.
Justin Williams probably didn’t mind leaving the Flyers, given that he won two Stanley Cups when he exited the City of Brotherly Love, but his recent appearance at the Flyers’ SkateZone in Voorhees, NJ indicates that Philadelphia hasn’t left his mind entirely.
In fact, Williams would make a very good fit on this current Flyers team. He is a proven 20-goal scorer with a lot of toughness, the sort of player who can be a physical force on the first line or a surprise scorer on the third.
Philadelphia’s offense is certainly not lacking, but it isn’t so refined. Williams would bring a lot of options to Peter Laviolette’s system, which is not unfamiliar with switching up lines.
The Flyers’ biggest issues are on the blue line, and there was a time when Joni Pitkanen was thought to be the next big thing in Philly's defense.
Unfortunately, Pitkanen’s offensive production as a member of the Flyers was not enough to make him valuable, and he was eventually traded to Edmonton in a deal that brought Joffrey Lupul to Philadelphia.
With the Flyers lacking Chris Pronger and Andrej Meszaros for the start of 2012-13 (if there is a start) and concerned about Kimmo Timonen’s long-term future, Pitkanen would have a comfortable role with Braydon Coburn as the future leaders of the defense.
Joffrey Lupul found his scoring touch as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he proved to be a valuable asset to Phil Kessel.
Currently, Scott Hartnell is the reigning leading scorer on the Flyers, having benefited from the setup abilities of Claude Giroux. Joffrey Lupul would perfectly round out the first line.
Lupul would be a scoring threat on Giroux’s right while Hartnell played a more comfortable, opportunistic physical role on the left. It doesn’t hurt that Hartnell and Lupul had plenty of chemistry in their first tenure together.
Dennis Seidenberg is the kind of big, strong defenseman that makes any team better on any part of the ice. He can blast a shot from the point in the offensive zone, but more importantly he holds his ground on his own turf.
Seidenberg hasn’t played for the Flyers since 2005-06, but he has thrived as a Bruin in a defensive unit with Zdeno Chara. He has the defensive reliability of Nicklas Grossmann but can make a difference on the power play.
For a team whose defense is spread thin, Seidenberg represents the whole package that the Flyers are missing.
Philadelphia traded Patrick Sharp to Chicago in 2006, a move that the team most likely regrets. Sharp has scored at least 25 goals in each full season since being traded to Chicago, where he has been an ideal wingman for playmakers like Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
Sharp would be a perfect right-winger for Philly’s Claude Giroux, who is becoming one of hockey’s better setup men.
Current presumed first-line right-winger Jakub Voracek is a fine hockey player, but his style may not allow Giroux to achieve the elite level that Giroux’s potential dictates.
Technically, Sami Kapanen is still an active member of professional hockey, playing for KalPa in Finland.
Kapanen was one of the most beloved Flyers on the early 2000s teams and was known for his versatility. The Flyers are a team that is spread a little thin in its bottom six forwards and its third-pair defensemen.
Sami Kapanen can play both.
Kapanen still has one of the better hockey IQs in the game (despite having his brain rattled by Darcy Tucker) and can play any position reliably. In fact, on that Darcy Tucker hit, Kapanen was filling in as the sixth defenseman for a team dealing with bad injuries.
Even at 39 years old, what Flyers fan wouldn’t welcome back Kapanen’s commitment and leadership on the Flyers, even in a limited role?