The Philadelphia Flyers shocked the hockey world in the offseason when they traded away their cornerstone players in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Not only that, but they continued to make major changes, allowing Ville Leino, Dan Carcillo and Brian Boucher to walk, and trading away Kris Versteeg and Darroll Powe.
Also, they declined to extend an offer to Nikolay Zherdev, but that was to be expected after his roller coaster of a season.
With so many guys being shipped out, the Flyers needed to re-stock the cupboard. They started by bringing in some more veterans via free agency in Jaromir Jagr, Maxime Talbot and Andreas Lilja. They also received Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, and Sean Couturier in the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades.
They took a long hard look at the guys in camp this year, too. And some of the rookies have actually been able to crack the lineup with their hard work and dedication. In this slideshow, I'll list five new faces that have made a huge impact with the Flyers so far this year.
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When the Flyers traded away Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets, they received a hefty return. In a trade that shocked the hockey world, Jeff Carter was traded to the Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek, the eighth overall pick in the draft and a third round pick in the draft.
Most people first looked at the trade as possibly a bad one for the Flyers, as Jakub Voracek never really living up to the hype in Columbus, and both of the draft picks being huge question marks. Well, the picks were made, and to the surprise of most, the Flyers ended up with Sean Couturier.
Couturier, who played for Drummondville in the juniors last year, was originally believed to be drafted higher in the standings. Due to an illness Couturier suffered during the season, his place in the draft began to fall. Sean finished the year strong, and ended up still being drafted quite high.
Philadelphia got a steal. Ever since arriving on the scene, Sean has done all the right things. He's contributed on the penalty kill and the power play, and has all but taken Blair Betts' job from him.
He may not end up being rookie of the year, but watch out for this guy. The sky is the limit, and he will only continue to get better.
Matt Read came to Philadelphia in March from Bemidji State, where he was a college standout. Read was signed as a bit of an insurance policy, as Paul Holmgren has traded away many draft picks in recent years. His signing was intended to restock the cupboard and give the Flyers some much needed young talent, especially for the Phantoms, who have struggled.
Fortunately for Read, he never had much of a chance to show the Phantoms what he could do. He's been too busy playing on the big club putting up impressive numbers. Read has been absolutely on fire as of late, compiling 10 goals and seven assists in 22 games this season. The best part is, it doesn't look like there is an end in sight.
Read is making a name for himself in the NHL right now, and some are starting to believe he could make a serious run at the Calder Cup Trophy this year. I have to admit, I'm one of them. This guy has loads of talent, and he has a professional attitude. If Read keeps this up, there will be a spot for him on this team for a long, long time.
Read is only 25 years old, which opens the door to a world of potential for this guy. Look out, Matt Read has entered the NHL.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock the past few years, you understand how important adding a guy like Maxime Talbot is to your roster. When the Flyers lost the services of Ian Laperriere a few years ago, they weren't quite able to ever replace him. They finally got their man when they signed him to a five-year deal that won't see him become a free agent until the 2016-17 season.
Talbot is responsible for the game winning goal that won the Pittsburgh Penguins their Stanley Cup back in 2009, but that is hardly all he is known for. He plays a hard-nosed, in-your-face style of hockey. Not only that, but he is relentless in his pursuit of the puck and plays with heart, something the Flyers were lacking.
What comes as the biggest surprise this season is the fact that Talbot is actually putting up intriguing numbers so far. In 25 games this season, he's tallied six goals and six assists, probably more than most expected from him this early in the season.
The Flyers knew what they were getting when they signed Talbot, and Penguins fans knew what they were losing. Talbot was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh, and I think that will remain the same in Philadelphia, even if he played for the enemy before.
You simply can't let guys like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards walk without getting some type of superstar talent in return. Well, they sure knew what they were doing when they grabbed this guy.
Probably the biggest shocker of all in Philadelphia's offseason fiasco was signing Jaromir Jagr.
Initial reaction from the Philadelphia fan base was a bit of confusion, and you can't really blame them. Growing up in Philadelphia, you learn to really hate certain players, and Jagr was always one of those guys that played on rival teams (Pittsburgh, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers), so, naturally, he was always booed and jeered.
Not only that, but just days before the free agency began, it was rumored that Jagr would return to the NHL for either the Penguins or the Red Wings, and that there were talks with both teams. One report even went so far as to report him heading to Pittsburgh to reunite with Mario Lemieux.
Pittsburgh fans were happy to hear that their former star player was returning to play along side prodigy Sidney Crosby.
That all came to an abrupt stop when it was announced the day of free agency that Jaromir Jagr signed with the Philadelphia Flyers on a one-year deal. Needless to say, Pittsburgh basically turned on him for signing with the enemy.
That's fine with me, because Jagr has been nothing but spectacular since coming to Philadelphia. He's developed a chemistry with Claude Giroux that is deadly, and he sure isn't showing much rust. In 21 games this season, Jagr has eight goals and 13 assists, or a point per game.
Let's hope that there is more left in the tank and he'll commit for the long term with Philadelphia at season's end.
Not since the days of Ron Hextall have the Philadelphia Flyers had a steady, clear-cut No. 1 goalie between the pipes. Some might even argue that it hasn't been that way since Bernie Parent played. Either way, it's been a long time.
Well, not anymore. After the goalie controversy in the playoffs last season, Ed Snider made it clear that these problems would no longer be an issue, and promised that it would be taken care of. A few weeks later, Ed Snider delivered on his promise.
The Flyers traded Phoenix for the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov so that he would never have a chance to hit the open market. Then, the Flyers wheeled and dealed Jeff Carter and Mike Richards out of town to accommodate the superstar goalie.
On the same day that Richards and Carter were traded, the Flyers announced that they had signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine year, $51 million dollar deal.
Bryzgalov has struggled a bit this season, but there's no denying that he is the goalie that the Flyers have been lacking for years. He's shown on numerous occasions why he was brought here and why he deserves big money. He's made key saves that no other goalie Philly had would have made, and he's sharp between the pipes.
Bryzgalov also brings a personality to the locker room that was much needed. He's known as a bit of a funny guy, and he doesn't shy away from reporters. He keeps a smile on his face and lightens up the locker room. Philadelphia finally has their No. 1 goalie.