2011 NHL Offseason: Winners in the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter Trades

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2011 NHL Offseason: Winners in the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter Trades
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Once upon a time, there were two hockey players in Pennsylvania who were considered to be untouchable. In fact, many expected them to each be the rare case in which a player plays his entire career on one team. Both of these guys signed long term contracts, and were supposed to be locked up for good. These two young men represented their city, country, and team with pride, and have achieved great success early in their careers.

Suddenly, all of that changed.

Relax, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are not going anywhere. However, just a few hours east, let's just say their state and division rivals decided to shake things up on Thursday afternoon.

Today, the Philadelphia Flyers turned some heads in the entire hockey world, as they traded their two franchise superstar centers, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

Richards, who was the Flyers' captain for the past five years and also signed to a decade-long contract, was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for right winger Wayne Simmonds, and center Brayden Schenn.

Carter was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for right winger Jakub Voracek, and Columbus' first round pick, which is eighth overall.

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Initial opinions will definitely vary, but these two moves can universally be described with one word. Shocking.

Since this is quite an overwhelming flurry of events to grasp as a hockey fan, people are certainly going to be heavily opinionated as to who "won" the trades. Why don't we break it down and find out.

First of all, let us start with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Yes, they gave up a high draft pick and a potentially budding young superstar, but in return they received a proven superstar center with great offensive instincts. The Jackets were certainly lacking quality down the middle. R.J. Umberger, Antoine Vermette, and Derick Brassard are decently talented centers, but at the moment, none of them can be considered to be a legitimate first line center. 

Jeff Carter may not be your typical play making center, but he and Rick Nash are arguably two of the most offensively driven players in the league. This trade definitely improves CBJ's scoring department, and will allow them to be more dangerous with their already run and gun style.

By the looks of it the Los Angeles Kings have admitted to the world that they are in a process of transformation. Either that, or they, like many who follow hockey, have found themselves in a state of trance after hearing that the Flyers were willing to deal Mike Richards.

The Kings have basically parted ways with two key components in their rebuilding process, and turned to a physical two-way player. This is not to say that Richards is old, or that he lacks offensive ability. However, it clearly shows that the Kings are willing to give up tremendous potential talent for grit and toughness. One must wonder if they are modeling their roster after the Cup-winning Boston Bruins.

Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
L.A. Kings' captain Dustin Brown must be happy with the acquisition of veteran and future line mate Mike Richards.

L.A. now has a combination of big bodies, talent, and physicality. All of their centers are decent two-way players, and Richards could line up well with the two Dustins. Not to take anything away from Dustin Brown, but Mike Richards' leadership could take this team a long way. It seems like they are serious about becoming true cup contenders.

Last but not least, the team that created today's chaos, the Philadelphia Flyers. Their intentions are clear. They want a young core who can grow and develop together. This is almost a miniature rebuild for Philly.

By trading their top two centers, it is undeniable that the Flyers have created a little bit of a void down the middle, but quite conveniently, they have elite right wingers (Danny Briere and Claude Giroux) who are versatile and can step in at the center position. On top of that, they have two more right wingers coming in via the trades, Simmonds and Voracek. 

Philadelphia's decisions were big risks today. Only time will tell if it pays off. Despite everything, the Flyers are still arguably the deepest team in the league, and even more so with their newly acquired superstar goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov.

If anything, they are the team who can afford to try experiments such as the ones today. With that being said, I have a feeling that they aren't finished yet.

As to who won the trade, I think every team thinks they got what they want. I guess we will find out for sure.

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