Thursday, June 23, 2011

Flyers Clean House; Trade Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Sign Bryzgalov

Original Image Credit: Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

 The Philadelphia Flyers had an eventful day today to say the very least. After dealing their leading goal-scorer, Jeff Carter, to the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the day, they then traded team captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings and capped their day off by signing goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a huge nine-year, $51 million deal, TSN confirmed.

In exchange for Carter the Flyers received forward Jakub Voracek, as well as Columbus' first-round (No. 8 overall) and third round draft picks in this year's draft. The Kings sent forwards Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, along with a second round pick to the Flyers in exchange for Mike Richards.

Richards said he had "no idea" the trade was coming and Jeff Carter's agent would only say there was "total disappointment" on the part of Carter.

Bryzgalov's new contract comes after his rights were traded from Phoenix to Philadelphia earlier this month.

The trade of Jeff Carter didn't really come as a surprise to me because it was rumored to be in the works for a while now, and the speculation only continued to heat up after the Flyers traded for Bryzgalov's rights. The Mike Richards trade is flat out shocking, though. There were rumors last year about there being problems in Philly's locker room, and even though Flyers coach Peter Laviolette denied there were any issues with Carter or Richards, I'm not sure if I believe him. It's just not normal to trade your team captain out of the blue at the age of 26 without something being up behind the scenes. Is there any coincidence that the Flyers finally trade for a top goaltender in the NHL and trade two of their top offensive performers in the same offseason? I guess we'll have to wait and find out. If Chris Pronger is named the next team captain of the Flyers, and I think he will be, then it'll make it more likely that there was some sort of a split between Pronger and Richards that the Flyers had to make a decision on.

Time will tell if this was the right move for the Flyers to make, but right now I don't think it makes them any better in the upcoming couple of seasons. Schenn is projected to be a stud, and I'm sure the Flyers will make smart draft choices since they always seem to draft well. It's still surprising, though, that a Stanley Cup favorite team year in and year out would completely overhaul the face of their franchise and change the direction of leadership just like that. I also think it's a risk giving a contract that long to Ilya Bryzgalov. There's no doubt he's an excellent goaltender and is 100 times better than the goalies the Flyers have been throwing out there the last several years, but this is a guy who was placed on waivers a few years ago and has never been a starting goaltender playing in an environment like Philadelphia, where they're expected to win. No offense to Phoenix, but it's not like the weight of the world was on Bryzgalov's shoulders when he was playing there. I guess right now we just don't really know what kind of mental build up Bryzgalov has to play in a pressure-filled environment, but we're all about to find out.

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