The Flyers are getting an early season visit from the Los Angeles Kings, and that means former Flyers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are in town for a visit. So as any Philadelphia fan has wondered over the past few seasons, did the Flyers get the best of the infamous trades? Let’s find out.
The Jeff Carter Deal
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that Jeff Carter was originally traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, not the Los Angeles Kings. Now, with that
out of the way, let’s break down the numbers.
Jeff Carter broke into the NHL with the Flyers in 2005-2006. In his first season in the orange and black, Carter amassed 42 points (23 G, 19 A) in 81 games as a rookie. Not bad. In his six seasons as a Flyer, Carter played 461 games, scored 181 goals, 162 assists and amassed 343 points. That includes 2008-2009 where Carter finished 2nd in the NHL in goals with 46.
Following the 2011 playoffs, Carter was traded to Columbus for Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, and Nick Cousins.
Since leaving Philadelphia, Carter has played in 183 regular season games, scored 79 goals, 50 assists, and 129 points. Carter also has 2 Stanley Cups, including 25 points in 26 playoff games last season. However, here’s where the numbers will make your head spin.
Since joining the Flyers in 2011, Jakub Voracek has played in 216 regular season games, scored 65 goals, 103 assists, and has 168 points. It’s also important to note that Voracek is 5 years younger than Carter and has a cap hit of about $1,000,000 less per year.
Sean Couturier actually came to the Flyers through the first round pick the acquired from Columbus, however, he immediately started playing for the Flyersduring the 2011-2012 season at just 19 years old. In 213 career NHL games, Coots has scored 33 goals, 53 assists, and accumulated 86 points. The real story, however, lies in the defensive side of Couturier’s play. He has been notorious for absolutely shutting down Evgeni Malkin, especially in 2012 when the Flyers ousted the Penguins in 6 games. He was a plus-18 in his first season in the NHL, and is now averaging almost 20 minutes a night for the Flyers, and is off to a pretty solid start this season.
If you compare numbers straight up, the Flyers seem to have gotten the better deal here. Even if it was a straight up trade which involved Jeff Carter and Jakub Voracek, the Flyers still could be considered winners, especially when taking into account age and cap hits. Sean Couturier isn’t ever going to light up the scoresheet, but he will matchup and neutralize the opposing teams offensive force, and that is something that is hard to find in todays NHL.
The Mike Richards Trade
This one came as a shocker when I first heard about it back in 2011. There had been rumors swirling around dealing Jeff Carter, but never really Mike Richards, especially because he was the Captain. But that quickly changed.
Richards, like Jeff Carter, stepped onto Flyers ice for the first time during the 2005-2006 season. He quickly impressed Flyers fans with his complete game. He could score, he played defense, he hit, and he was the all around ideal player who fit the Flyer mold perfectly. In his first season as a Flyer he put up 34 points.
In his six seasons as a Flyer, Richards put up 133 goals, 213 assists, and 349 points. He captained the Flyers to two Eastern Conference Finals appearances, and one Stanley Cup Final appearance during his tenure in Philadelphia. Since leaving Philadelphia, Richards has played in 212 games and has accumulated 119 points.
Following the 2011 playoffs, Richards was traded to Los Angeles for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn.
Brayden Schenn cracked the Flyers lineup the first year he was here, at just 20 years old. Since coming to Philadelphia, he has 89 points (42 G, 47 A) in 191 career games. He has shown flashes of what he can do but he really hasn’t hit his breakout yet. That being said, Schenn just turned 23 years old this past summer, so there is still plenty of time for him to hit his prime. He is also playing out of position instead of at the center position which is where he belongs. Still, he has a lot of promise and should breakout within the next few seasons. However, our next guy is a different story.
Wayne Simmonds came into Philadelphia and to be quite honest, no one knew much about him. I knew he was a big guy with average skating ability, but that was about it. 3 years later and I couldn’t be happier he’s wearing orange and black.
Since coming to Philadelphia, Simmonds has played in 217 games (he has only missed 3 games), scored 77 goals, has 71 assists, and 148 points. Simmonds, who is now 26, seems poised to have his breakout year this season. He is a huge reason the Flyers have had success on the powerplay the past few seasons, and has given opponents fits in front of the net. He is also a huge physical presence for the Flyers, something the team can really feed off of during games.
The Flyers definitely won this trade.
So, Who Wins?
In certain ways it’s almost hard to compare the trades, because so far, they have worked out well for both teams.
Carter was a scorer for the Flyers, and despite what many fans though, he was a very good two-way forward as well. However, when the opportunity arose for the Flyers to get younger and acquire some a top prospect in Brayden Schenn, it really was the right move. With Claude Giroux about to breakout, the Flyers would have probably had to move one of the two players, and thank god it wasn’t Giroux.
The trade never worked for Columbus, but it did for Los Angeles. Carter fell into his role nicely there and was a crucial part of the Kings two Stanley Cups. Voracek is slowly becoming a large piece of the success Claude Giroux has found at the center position, and is really starting to come into his own on the first line and Couturier is still very young and has provided the Flyers with great defense as a forward.
Mike Richards has fallen into a completely different role in Los Angeles. He has taken a more defensive based role, and it has worked out excellently for the Kings. On the other hand, Wayne Simmonds is starting to show flashes of being a top power forward in the NHL. He put on a show in the Flyers crucial game 6 against New York last season, and already has 7 points in 8 games this season, including 4 on the powerplay. The other piece of the deal in Brayden Schenn, hasn’t broken out yet. I sincerely believe that once the Flyers find a spot for him at center, he will breakout.
Any Flyers fan should realize that despite all of the controversy surrounding the trades, they were definitely trades that were in the best interest of the Flyers. It takes a lot of guts to disassemble a team that was one year removed from coming within one game of a Stanley Cup, but Paul Holmgren (as weird as this sounds) knew what he was doing. If anything has led to the somewhat demise of the Flyers, it has been the bad contracts that were handed out to guys on defense, and guys who just don’t fit on the team, like Vincent Lecavalier.
These trades allowed the Flyers to get younger, clear cap space, and set themselves up for the future. As much as Flyers fans hate to hear the word patience (see: JVR), it will pay off in the long run. Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter both didn’t have their breakout seasons until they were 24. Being patient with guys like Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier is what the Flyers need, and what they should do.
That is why the Flyers won the Ricahrds and Carter deals.
Matt is a contributor for the Philadelphia Flyers at The Hockey Writers. He has previously covered the Flyers for GrandstandU. He enjoys playing hockey and making music in his spare time.