The Philadelphia Flyers once traded Mike Richards for Tyler Pitlick — well, not directly. Over the course of eight years and three trades, the Flyers went from Richards to Pitlick. Here’s how it happened.
Mike Richards Trade (6/23/11)
The saga began when the Flyers traded their captain to the Los Angeles Kings in June of 2011. Richards had been a first-round draft pick of the Flyers back in 2003. In his rookie season in 2005-06, he recorded 11 goals and 23 assists. After that, Richards quickly rose to stardom. Just a couple of seasons later, he tallied 28 goals and 47 assists for 75 points. Midway through that breakout season, the Flyers locked Richards up on a 12-year, $69 million contract extension.
Now expected to be a long-term fixture of the Flyers, Richards was made captain prior to the start of the 2008-09 season. He responded well to his new duties by tallying 30 goals and 50 assists for a career-high 80 points. He then added at least 60 points in each of his next two seasons with the team. Perhaps that is why he was caught by surprise after the 2010-11 season when he found out that he had been traded to the Kings.
I was very shocked. At first I was shocked and then excited – I’m excited to move out to L.A. and be a part of a team that has a ton of great players. I’m just looking forward to helping them out.(from ‘Trade Leaves Mike Richards In A State Of Shock,’ Philadelphia Sports Daily, 6/24/11).
Though it couldn’t have been easy to trade away their star and team captain, the Flyers at least received a sizable haul for Richards. The Flyers parted with him and prospect Rob Bordson, who is yet to play a game in the NHL, and obtained Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a 2012 second-round draft pick.
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The benefits of this trade were two-fold: the Flyers got rid of Richards’ lengthy contract and they rebuilt their roster with some young talent and a premium draft pick. Ultimately, the trade worked out in the Flyers’ favor. Richards was not the same player in Los Angeles, and failed to top 50 points in a season ever again.
Meanwhile, Simmonds and Schenn became key contributors for the Flyers. Simmonds lasted eight years in Philly and compiled 378 points in 584 games. The peak of his tenure was his back-to-back 30-plus goal campaigns in 2015-16 and 2016-17. Meanwhile, Schenn spent six years with the Flyers and recorded 246 points across 424 games. As for that draft pick, the Flyers packaged it with another pick to acquire defenseman Nicklas Grossmann from the Dallas Stars. Neither of these players quite filled Mike Richards’ shoes, but the Flyers still have to be satisfied with how the trade panned out.
Wayne Simmonds Trade (2/25/19)
After eight years of Wayne Simmonds, the Flyers decided it was once again time for a rebuild. The Flyers were not very good in 2018-19, finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference. Therefore, it made sense for them to be sellers at the trade deadline. Though Simmonds was coming off his fifth-consecutive season with 20-plus goals, he was set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Thus, he was an appealing rental for the playoff-contending Nashville Predators.
In return for Simmonds, the Flyers acquired Ryan Hartman and a 2020 fourth-round draft pick. At that point, Hartman had been in the NHL for two full seasons and had recorded 31 points in each of them. Still, as his contract was also set to expire after the season, he likely wasn’t going to be a part of the Flyers’ future. In fact, he played just 19 games during the remainder of the season before he was traded, but we’ll get there.
Meanwhile, the Flyers sent that draft pick to acquire Derek Grant at this season’s trade deadline. This season, Grant recorded a career-high 25 points. He is a pending free agent, and we’ll have to see if he will be back in Philadelphia next season.
Ultimately, the Simmonds trade seems inconsequential. He was past the prime of his career and was set to be a free agent. He did not bring in the same haul that Richards did, but the Flyers still acquired a couple of pieces that could help them in the future. Of course, that depends on whether Grant re-signs and also on the future of the player whom the Flyers acquired for Hartman.
Ryan Hartman Trade (6/24/19)
As mentioned, Ryan Hartman did not last long in Philadelphia. As he was set to be a free agent on July 1, 2019, the Flyers decided to send him to the Dallas Stars. In return, they received Tyler Pitlick.
That probably wasn’t the smartest trade for Dallas. They decided against tendering Hartman a qualifying offer. That made him an unrestricted free agent, and he inked a two-year contract with the Minnesota Wild. Therefore, the Stars ultimately got nothing in return for Pitlick.
Meanwhile, the Flyers got a decent season from Pitlick. Playing on the third line, Pitlick registered 8 goals and 12 assists. He is set to be a free agent this summer so the Flyers will have to decide if they want to bring back the 28-year-old. Regardless, the Flyers have to be pleased that they at least got something for Hartman, while the Stars are probably still scratching their heads.
An added bonus if the Flyers decide to re-sign Pitlick is that they could potentially keep their trade saga going. Otherwise, it appears the saga may finally reach its conclusion. While the team traded its captain in the prime of his career, and may soon have nothing to show for it, the future is bright in Philadelphia. After a career-year from Travis Konecny, the Flyers just might have their captain of the future. Sounds like another trade saga could be in the cards one day.
Covering the Flyers for THW | Lifelong Islanders fan, but promise to become a little more sympathetic to the Flyers | Also a 4X marathon-runner | UChicago ’19