Look back at this year's trade deadline and some of the players who were moved. Hossa to Pittsburgh. Campbell to San Jose. Richards to Dallas. Huet and Federov to Washington. Cam Janssen to St. Louis (just kidding).
How about if I told you that a minor move at the deadline that went well under the radar has had a bigger impact than any of those?
The Flyers have just about always looked for a way to help themselves improve heading into the stretch run, even if at times they have paid retail mark-up for what they got... Paging Adam Oates...
The night before the deadline, Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren brought Vinny Prospal back to Philadelphia. And the move got the Flyers into the playoffs.
Prospal came over putting up career numbers in a contract year. Sure, it helped that he had Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis on the ice with him. But Prospal was being brought in to play with talented linemates again, particularly Danny Briere. Prospal has made a world of difference in Briere's first season as a Flyer. Briere came into the season expecting to have Simon Gagne on his wing and Gagne's concussion problems during the season derailed those plans. Coach John Stevens tried hard after that to find Briere ample replacements, but Briere had little consistent success with any of the combinations. In fact, during the Flyers 10 game skid leading up to the deadline, Briere had only 2 goals and 2 assists and was a -7.
Then Vinny came to town and helped turn it all around. He filled, at least most of, the void that Gagne left. Prospal is one of the few players on the Flyers roster who has the vision on the ice to make plays the way Briere does, to see openings the defense doesn't realize exist. The duo has clicked from the start and there has been a direct correlation to the Flyers success during the late season surge that propelled the Flyers into the 6th seed in the East.
Prospal arrived in Philly with 29 goals and 28 helpers as well. He added 4 more goals and 10 assists over the final 18 games of the season while wearing orange and black. But perhaps even more importantly, Danny Briere registered 17 points (9 G, 8 A) over the final 16 games of the season he played in and was a +2 in that stretch (-24 beforehand). Since the 7-1 fanny lashing in Pittsburgh, Scott Hartnell replaced the injured RJ Umberger and became a great fit as the 3rd man on the line, freeing up a lot of space for Prospal to do his thing: either by setting up a great pass or firing rubber on net himself.
Prospal made Briere an even strength threat again and helped give the Flyers depth few teams in the league can match, with 3 solid scoring lines up front not to mention joining a power play that was already one of the most formidable in the league.
The success has carried over in the playoffs as well as both Prospal and Briere have 6 points thru the first 3 games of their series with the Capitals (Vinny 2 G 4 A, Danny 4 G, 2 A).
Vinny may not be back in Philly next season, mostly because the Flyers probably can't afford what the market will dictate Prospal is worth after a career year. But if the Flyers and their fans have to watch Prospal leave because he gets a good chunk-o-change from another team, they will know that Vinny Prospal was worth every penny of it this season.