In a move designed to free up the cap space needed to sign the much coveted services of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, the Philadelphia Flyers have indelibly altered the face of their franchise with dual deals that see the departure of Jeff Carter and their captain, Mike Richards.
The first move of the day saw the departure of a 26-year-old, three-time 30-goal scorer in Jeff Carter. Carter finds his way to the Columbus Blue Jackets, finally providing long-suffering Rick Nash a legitimate running mate. In return, the Jackets send the services of promising 21-year-old Jakub Voracek, their eighth-overall pick, and a third-rounder.
The second, and perhaps more unexpected deal, saw the Los Angeles Kings acquire the Flyers captain. Mike Richards, who has experienced a couple of minor letdowns the last couple years on the offensive side of the puck, will take his talents to Long Beach in exchange for prospect Brayden Schenn, 22-year-old Wayne Simmonds and a second-rounder.
These moves clearly opened up the required space for Philadelphia to sign Bryzgalov, the two agreed on a nine-year, $51 million contract which will keep Bryzgalov a Flyer until he is 40.
The trades also fundamentally alter the face of three NHL franchises.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, in acquiring Jeff Carter, have landed a bona fide Robin for Nash’s Batman. Having toiled without much in the way of offensive support since arriving in the league in 2002, fans in Columbus may finally be able to get another sniff at the postseason since their unceremonious dismissal at the hands of the Red Wings in 2008-09.
The Los Angeles Kings—a team on the verge of making some real noise in the Western Conference—may have just taken the step they need to exorcise the playoff demons that have plagued them since their visit to the Finals in 1992-93. In Richards they acquire a great leader, an offensive threat and a solid two-way presence that should beautifully compliment the playing style of a Dustin Brown, or Ryan Smyth (should he still be around). The Kings, clearly feeling their time is now, made themselves better today, at the expense of some upside down the road.
When the Philadelphia Flyers take the ice next season they will be nearly unrecognizable. The departure of the dynamic duo of Carter and Richards is not just a change in personnel, but in philosophy.
In terms of skill, the 6’1” 205-pound right-winger Voracek has nice upside and may develop into a 30-goal man in the NHL. Adding a second winger in the 6’2” Simmonds, the Flyers help replace some of the jam they shipped out, as well as a guy who could develop into a consistent 20-goal guy.
Flyers fans will love his game.
In 19-year-old Brayden Schenn, Philadelphia acquires a potential All-Star center somewhere down the road. With nice speed and a physical edge, he should be able to step in next year and get some meaningful minutes, likely on the second line.
Finally, the draft picks. At the eighth pick, the Flyers could land promising defenseman Ryan Murphy or Jonas Brodin. They could also add some depth up front with the likes of Mika Zibanijad or Ryan Strome.
Regardless of the direction they decide to go, on this day before the NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers have made the first of what will sure to be several moves the next couple days. The debate will no doubt rage as to the value of these trades, but one thing is for sure—Bryzgalov better be worth the price of admission.