What a day! The Flyers shook up the hockey world with a pair of blockbuster deals, moving cornerstone young centers Mike Richards
and Jeff Carter
. Richards was sent to the left coast (Los Angeles), while Carter moves across the Pennsylvania border into Ohio to join the Blue Jackets.
Here are a few quick thoughts about the moves for each team's perspective.
-- Upper management must have done a lot of soul-searching before pulling the trigger on these deals. Richards and Carter, both first-round picks in the dynamic 2003 draft, were thought to be the cornerstone of the club's long-term future. In fact, the Flyers had signed both centers to monster deals.
While Carter's name had been mentioned in trade talk at different times over the past several years, Richards seemed locked in for the long haul. Likened by many Flyer watchers to the legendary Bobby Clarke
, Richards was himself named team captain in 2008.
However, Richards did have a stormy relationship with several members of the local media in Philly. He was also was rumored to be at odds with coach Peter Laviolette
, although one Flyer told me that really was more a matter of different personalities.
"Peter wants to have a relationship with his captain like he did with Rod Brind'Amour
in Carolina," the ex-Flyer player said. "Mike just isn't that type of guy."
The team was likely worried about their future relationship with Richards, who has a no-move clause in his contract that will kick in on July 1, 2012. If the Flyers were unsure about their feelings moving forward, they were wise to move him now. Once that clause kicks in, they would have little control in any attempt to move him.
The deals freed up the cap space for the Flyers to ink goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
to a nine-year, $51 million deal. GM Paul Holmgren
clearly hopes this signing will put an end to the club's decades' long goaltending problems. While Bryzgalov has been very good, flying under the radar in Phoenix, it's yet to be seen if he can thrive under the pressure that he will no doubt face in Philly.
In the separate deals, the Flyers get young forwards Wayne Simmonds
, Jakub Voracek
, highly-touted prospect Braydon Schenn as well as the No. 8 overall pick in Friday's draft and an additional second- (2012) and third-round selection (2011).
I have to believe the continued development of forwards Claude Giroux
and James van Riemsdyk
impacted Holmgren's thinking on these deals. The moves also give the club the cap room to re-sign versatile forward Ville Leino
. The club's new look up front might turn out to be more balanced. Too often, the Flyers had natural centers like Carter and Danny Briere
playing out of position on the wing. Simmonds and Voracek could turn out to be terrific fits in Philly. Schenn figures to fit, in the short term, as a third center.
: Columbus has needed a legit No. 1 center since entering the League in 2000. They paid a significant price, but they finally got one. Carter will play alongside top sniper Rick Nash
, who was probably jumping up and down after getting the news. Of course, we'll have to see if they'll find a natural chemistry together.
GM Scott Howson, who was under extreme pressure to make a major move, says he has been working on the deal for months. He was able to accomplish the move without surrendering top prospect Ryan Johansen
, who could fit perfectly behind Carter as the club's No. 2 center.
At this point, Voracek is a better fit in Philadelphia and the club was willing to give up the high draft pick to get the deal done. For Howson, this was a deal he desperately needed to make. Time will tell if it works out.
-- Richards should fit like a glove as the club's No. 2 center behind Anze Kopitar
. Richards is very familiar with the Kings management and coaching staff, most of whom have deep ties to the Flyers. That should make his transition much easier.
GM Dean Lombardi has been seeking just this type of deal for nearly two years as he looks to push his team into serious Cup contention. Lombardi should be credited for holding onto (and publically lauding) Schenn until just the right move came to his door. With Richards in L.A., Schenn has less value to the Kings and thus he was expendable.
I won't be surprised if Lombardi makes a few more moves -- possibly dealing young G Jonathan Bernier
-- before the dust settles this weekend.