Paul Holmgren, for better or worse, has done it in Philadelphia.
When the Flyers traded for the right's to free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, everybody knew they were serious...finally...about addressing their question mark in goal.
Everybody also knew that signing Bryzgalov to a new contract would require some type of sacrifice from the current roster in order to get the Flyers in a position, relative to the salary cap limits, to sign the new goaltender.
For weeks, Jeff Carter's name had been mentioned as the most likely candidate for relocation. Carter's long contract and $5M plus a year hit seemed to be about what the Flyers would need to pay Bryzgalov. At the end of the day, if Holmgren could find a trade partner for Carter and sign Bryzgalov, it would be as if he traded one for the other, at least as far as the salary cap economics were concerned.
What most people did not expect is that Holmgren would go one step further and trade the Flyer's captain, Mike Richards, on the same day.
Moving both players clearly signifies, to the Flyers and their fans, that Holmgren has decided things need to change in Philly...and not just between the pipes.
By trading away the captain...and his best off ice buddy...Holmgren is realigning the leadership of the club...and one would assume the new guy wearing the "C" in Philly will be former captain of the Ducks and Flyer's current assistant captain Chris Pronger. One would also assume, if there were any divisions in the "room", they will be healed by these moves.
In terms of how this will translate to success on the ice...people are predicting it might be a different story.
I have already read a few articles that suggested the Flyers have traded themselves out of being a contender for the Stanley Cup for the next 2-3 years.
I'm not really buying into that theory though...
In return for Richards and Carter, the Flyers got Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and the 5th overall pick from the 2009 NHL draft, Brayden Schenn.
While none of these guys currently are replacements for the two players that departed, Voracek and Simmonds have both been 40 point NHL players, and Schenn is expected to be a guy that scores more than that when he hits his prime. In fact, with all of them currently under the age of 24 (Simmonds 23, Voracek 22 and Schenn 20) there is quite a bit of upside to this trio.
If the Flyers can get Voracek and Simmonds to perform as they have in the past and they get the expected improvement from James van Reimsdyk, I think they will do just fine in terms of scoring goals. Plus, there is still room for Claude Giroux to grow...and it will be interesting to see how much playing time Schenn gets.
If these guys can make up for the offense lost by trading Richards and Carter, and Bryzgalov can provide the kind of goaltending we have become accustomed to seeing from him, I think this team is still a cup contender.
You only need to look a few hundred miles northeast to see a club like this that already exists. And they seemed pretty happy to parade their recently won hardware around town last week.
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