On a day when the Philadelphia Flyers shook the foundation of their organization with two blockbuster trades, general manager Paul Holmgren choked up just the one time, when talking about how difficult it was to call both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and tell them they’d been moved.
The Flyers chose both players in the star-studded 2003 entry draft and now, eight years later, on the eve of the 2011 draft, had traded them away – Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Richards to the Los Angeles Kings. It was an interesting pair of transactions because it accomplished a little bit of everything for the Flyers: freed up money to sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, added the eighth overall choice in Friday’s draft, and brought in a trio of youngsters, headed by Brayden Schenn, who will solidify the Flyers’ future for years to come.
In some ways, Schenn, star of last year’s Canadian world junior team, brings many of the same qualities that Richards did when he first arrived on the scene: leadership and skill. With Daniel Brière and Claude Giroux still No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the Flyers’ depth chart, Holmgren was able to trade away both Richards and Carter from a position of strength, without undermining their centre-ice position too badly.
“What we’ve done today is change the direction of our organization,” Holmgren said. “I’ve always said, over the last few years, that I like our team. Today, I like our team. We’re just different.”
From Columbus, in addition to the eighth overall choice in Friday’s entry draft, the Flyers received young forward Jakub Voracek, a 46-point player last year, plus a third-round pick.
From Los Angeles, in addition to the previously untouchable Schenn, whom the Kings wouldn’t part with at the trade deadline last March, the Flyers also received Wayne Simmonds, a highly regarded young player whose development seemed to stall last year, plus a second-rounder in 2012.
All in all, it represented a good day of bold moves for Holmgren, who changed the chemistry of the team in an important way, solidified the goaltending by signing Bryzgalov (nine years, $51-million U.S.) and brought in a handle of young players who will be regulars for the team next year. It also signals a renewed commitment to James van Riemsdyk, the second player chosen after Patrick Kane in his draft year. Van Riemsdyk had a breakout playoff this season.
For Columbus, the attraction of Carter is clear. A small-market team that has a hard time attracting free agents and is teetering on the edge of relevance in its market, it gives the Blue Jackets the best centre they’ve ever had and someone who can play with Rick Nash, two-thirds of a No. 1 line. Carter is also a former linemate of the Blue Jackets’ R.J. Umberger. His addition should spark the offence and also create far more interest in a Blue Jackets team where the pressure to win now is getting increasingly strong.
The same also applies in Los Angeles, a team whose playoff hopes were undermined last year when leading scorer Anze Kopitar was injured in March and lost for the season.
The Kings, according to sources, have asked Ryan Smyth to waive his no-trade clause in order to trade him to the Calgary Flames. Smyth is said to be thinking it over, in the same way that the Flames’ Robyn Regehr is pondering whether to waive his no-trade clause to go to the Buffalo Sabres in a proposed deal.