Philadelphia Flyers: How the 2011 Unloaded Players Will Affect Their New Teams
Three of the team's top five point scorers from this past season now belong to different teams.
Nine players who appeared in more than 25 games for the Flyers last season will not be returning to the club. Eight have found new homes, and Nikolay Zherdev remains a free agent.
How will these players fit into their new teams?
Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings
Mike Richards was assigned captain of the Philadelphia Flyers because of his ability to play a skillful, physical game, paired with the desire to win and a dedication to his teammates.
"Richie" seemed to lack the same heart and intensity this past season that he had showed during his earlier years.
However, the trade to Los Angeles may certainly have been a wake-up call for the 25-year-old.
Either way, the Kings now have a center who will produce more than 60 points, while also helping out defensively.
Richards nearly won the Frank Selke Trophy in 2009 after scoring seven shorthanded goals, but was narrowly beat out by Pavel Datsyuk as the best defensive forward in the NHL.
Richards' anticipation on the ice is excellent. Not only does this lead to the interception of passes, but the ability to read the game results in hard hits as well.
Richards will likely be playing with former linemate Simon Gagne, who recently signed with the Kings as a free agent.
Jeff Carter, Columbus Blue Jackets
Jeff Carter was the leading scorer for the Philadelphia Flyers in each of the past three seasons. His career high of 46 was second in the league in 2009, the season he led the league with 12 game-winning goals.
Though Carter possesses a hard wrist shot, it is very inaccurate at times; only three players with 30-plus goals had a worse shooting percentage than Jeff Carter's 10.7 during this past season.
Carter was seventh among all NHL players this past season in goals with 36 despite being third in total shots at 335.
In addition to the myriad of shots on net that are not goals, Carter has a tendency to miss the net completely or blow easy scoring chances.
Carter's most memorable shot in Philadelphia was nailing Antti Niemi in the chest with Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals on the line.
Despite a 200-pound frame at 6'2", the forward rarely throws his weight around—so physical play is not an aspect that should be anticipated from Carter.
He will undoubtedly give Columbus a solid 1-2 finishing punch in the goal-scoring department, but Blue Jackets fans should prepare for the frustration of seeing a talented scorer miss many opportunities to bury a puck in the net.
Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres
Ville Leino may very well be the reason the Buffalo Sabres didn't make it past the first round in 2011.
With a 3-2 series lead and needing just one overtime goal to move on, the Sabres couldn't beat the Flyers. Philadelphia's overtime hero was none other than Leino.
Leino's average salary of $4,500,000 was too much for the Flyers, and the 27-year-old winger who has scored 30 career goals went to Buffalo.
Leino is a skilled puck-handler who has a strong preference to set up plays.
Unfortunately, this inclination to pass the puck is occasionally counterproductive; he produces turnovers by trying to make plays that don't work, and often times lets good shooting opportunities pass by him.
If Leino starts shooting the puck more and is more selective about how he produces plays, he may add to his career high of 53 points last season.
If Leino can't find a way to make it work without Danny Briere on his line, the Sabres might be wasting $27 million.
Kris Versteeg, Florida Panthers
With the NHL salary cap raised by $5 million this season, the Florida Panthers found it necessary to reach the cap floor and went on a spending spree.
With little cap room left to work with, and Versteeg's $3 million cap hit comparatively large, the Philadelphia Flyers found it necessary to trade away their recent deadline-deal acquisition.
Versteeg will produce 50 points and play competent defensively. As a penalty killer, Versteeg netted four and three shorthanded goals in the 2008-9 and 2009-10 seasons, respectively.
One issue with Versteeg is that he must be on the right team to play effectively. In his two seasons with Chicago, his plus/minus was a combined plus-23. In 27 games with Philadelphia this season, he notched a plus-four.
However, in 53 games with the dismal Toronto Maple Leafs, Versteeg was a minus-13.
Darroll Powe, Minnesota Wild
Powe's rights as a restricted free agent were traded to the Minnesota Wild.
Powe's role on the ice is to forecheck and kill penalties. Powe is a great skater, and according to Chuck Gormley of the Cherry Hill, N.J. Courier-Post, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren once called him "one of the most under-appreciated guys in the league."
At 5'11", 212 lbs. he packs explosive checking ability, which Wild fans are used to seeing from players such as Cal Clutterbuck.
Dan Carcillo, Chicago Blackhawks
When the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Dan Carcillo from the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009, "Carbomb" was the NHL's leader in penalty minutes.
Carcillo is responsible for a collection of entertaining events, but is popularly (and falsely) known as a cheap player.
Carcillo will occasionally embellish penalties, which is certainly not something to be proud of. However, he does not take cheap shots, and will always back up his trash talk by dropping the gloves.
In addition to his ability to bring energy to the ice, Carcillo is an effective hitter and skates well enough to be useful on a fourth-line forecheck.
The downside of Carcillo is the amount of undeserved, soft penalty calls made on him.
Carcillo may actually earn a lot of his penalties, but a large number of them are questionable calls made by officials who judge him by the reputation.
Sean O'Donnell, Chicago Blackhawks
After defense and goaltending proved to be a soft spot for the Flyers in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Holmgren acquired Andrej Meszaros from the Tampa Bay Lightning and signed Sean O'Donnell.
O'Donnell was a quality defenseman for a majority of the season, but began to show signs of wear in the playoffs.
If the 39-year-old is given less ice time, he may be able to continue contributing later in the year.
O'Donnell is an excellent teammate and Chicago fans should be happy to have him.
Brian Boucher, Carolina Hurricanes
Brian Boucher was asked to do more than should have been expected over the past two seasons.
The backup goaltender essentially split time as the starter with Sergei Bobrovsky this past season. In the season prior, he took over when Michael Leighton was injured in March until Boucher himself was injured during the playoff series against the Boston Bruins.
Boucher did well enough to keep the Flyers winning games, but never really stole a game for the team or played spectacularly.
Though "Boosh" is not a starting-caliber goaltender, it is certainly not for a lack of effort. Boucher has shown the will and desire to be a winning goaltender his entire career.
After lackluster playoff performances this season, Boucher was visibly irate with himself. He was angry at his effort and verbally took "full responsibility" for the losses.
The humble goaltender has a personality that is easy to like.
Boucher will do a very adequate job as the backup to Cam Ward, and certainly possesses the experience to start games if that is ever asked of him.