Wow. I'm not sure how else to start this. If there's an award for "Most Aggressive GM," I think Paul Holmgren wins unanimously. Many people thought that the 1-2 punch of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter would be skating in the orange and black for their entire careers. Considering their double digit year contracts, that wasn't really going out on a limb. I personally didn't really think that Carter would be traded based on the rise in the salary cap and how the Flyers have refused to trade him in the past, but that trade was no surprise. The Richards trade, however, was shocking to me. He was the captain, a fan favorite, and widely regarded in Philadelphia as being something of Bobby Clarke Lite. It just goes to show you that Holmgren sees no one as untouchable.
Oh, and by the way, the Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9 year, $51 million contract. That's a cap hit of $5.667 million a year.
In case you live under a rock and haven't heard the details of the trades, here they are:
Columbus gets Jeff Carter
Philadelphia gets Jakub Voracek and 1st and 3rd round picks
Los Angeles gets Mike Richards
Philadelphia gets Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, and a 2nd round pick
So why would the Flyers trade two major pieces of their core? Carter's kind of easy to figure out. In order to spend the money to sign Bryzgalov, they needed to shed some salary. Despite being the best current goal scorer on the team and despite his very longterm contract, his no trade clause has yet to kick in and for his output, his cap his it fair. He's also been coveted by several teams for several years. He was the most tradeable player. I know a lot of Flyers fans who couldn't wait to see Carter go. I find that funny because I know there were a lot of GMs who couldn't wait to hear Holmgren say "Carter's available."
As for Richards, the reasons aren't quite as clear. What makes it even stranger is that Richards would be traded along with Carter. My guess is that Richards hasn't progressed at a satisfactory pace according to the Flyers brass. He's a young captain and was still learning the role. His numbers have dropped off after putting up 80 points three seasons ago, but that can be attributed to the emergence and better play of the rest of the forwards around him. When there are three good scoring lines on a team, the top players won't get as much ice time and opportunity because that ice time and opportunity is spread out more evenly.
Some people claiming that the Flyers didn't like the "partyboy" attitude of Richards and Carter and the stories of them hitting the town. I really hate to pretend to know what players do in their personal lives and what goes on in a lockerroom. I don't personally know Richards or Carter and I've never been in the lockerroom during a game, so I'm not going to play the he said she said game. Yes, there are pictures of Richards and Carter at parties, but that doesn't mean they were doing anything excessively. And remember, if you still want to believe what some lazy unethical beatwriters have to say, all of the stories about Carter having an affair with Scott Hartnell's wife were not true. So all I can say about why the Flyers surprised the hockey world and dealt Richards is that they wanted to change the direction the team was headed. If it's because Richards was a poor leader and/or wasn't producing as he should have, so be it. If it's because the Flyers felt they couldn't turn down the offer the Kings put in front of them, then okay. The deal is done and life goes on.
The Blue Jackets are getting a tremendous goal scorer to play alongside the tremendous goal scorer they already have in Rick Nash. The Jackets have always needed a stud center to play with Nash, but since Nash is a shooter, Carter might not be the best match. But Carter did play much of last season on the wing for the Flyers, so keeping him on the wing would be a logical move for Columbus. They could stick Derick Brassard between Carter and Nash (if both end up playing together on the first line) or could even try to bring 2010 4th overall draft pick Ryan Johansen to center their line. It would be tough for Johansen to make the jump at 19 years old, but playing between two 40 goal scorers would help a whole lot. And with $21 million in cap space, they could go out and sign someone, but since Columbus isn't expecting to do much next year, they might just allow next year to play itself out and give Johansen another year to develop instead of stunting his growth if he's not quite ready to compete at the NHL level.
As for the Kings, they now look pretty good down the middle. Anze Kopitar will anchor the first line and Mike Richards will center the second line. Richards is a great two-way player and can do everything well. And in LA, he'll play with a little bit less pressure and presumably more offensive responsibility, which should help him reach some good numbers. The addition of Richards will also help ease the pain of losing the offense of Ryan Smyth, who has made it known that he wants to return to the Edmonton Oilers. And letting my mind wander a bit, I wonder if we'll see Richards and Drew Doughty on the blueline together on the powerplay? That could be nice...
Get the rest here.