It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – NAHT!

To La: Mike Richards

To Phi: Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, 2nd round pick

To Clb: Jeff Carter

To Phi: Jakub Voracek, 8th overall pick, 3rd round pick

Since I could go on about this all day, I’ll keep it brief. This is a horrible set of moves. If I were a Flyers fan, I’d have a heart attack, followed by a seizure, followed by a killing spree through the Flyers front office, followed by another heart attack. That’s probably the best way to describe it.

I’ve never really been a huge Flyer fan (other than for fantasy purposes), but I always loved Mike Richards. In my opinion, he’s the best captain, and best two-way player in the league. He has the talent of a first line centre, including great speed, passing, vision, shot, etc etc. He kills penalties, is physical, wins draws, scores big goals. He does everything. He signed a 12 year deal in 2008 which should have made him a Flyer for life. Now he’s a King, and the return, while not necessarily bad, is a massive risk for the Flyers. Schenn is very famous for a prospect his age, but the fact remains that he’s only just coming out of junior. He looks like he’ll be a solid 2nd line centre at the worst, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll be an impact player like Richards. Simmonds meanwhile is a very good 3rd line winger with second line potential. Big, fast, strong, 2-way winger who can put up 25 goals and 50 points and dominate on the forecheck and the pk. Very valuable. But Mike Richards is one of a kind.

I was never a huge fan of Jeff Carter. I always thought he’d be a player that was more talented than his statistics would bear out. Although he did prove me wrong in 08-09 when he put up 46 goals (2nd in the league) and 84 points, he hasn’t been super-productive in the other 5 years, particularly in the playoffs. That being said, this deal is odd. Jakub Voracek is a talented 22-year-old Czech forward drafted 7th overall in 2007. He has definite first line potential, and is already a second line winger. But he doesn’t seem to fit the Philadelphia mould. The 8th overall pick could be Hamilton or Murphy, but neither are sure bets to be impact players. Carter’s skill set is irreplaceable – he’s exactly what GM’s drool over at the draft – big, fast, skilled, great goal scorer. They don’t grow on trees. The only thing more rare is #1 d-men who are 6’3, skate like the wind, and run both sets of special teams.

If you hear the argument “this was done to open up cap space”, that is *utter BS*.

(*The word now is that there were problems in the locker room which caused the trades of Richards, and even more so Carter. It’s only speculation, and these types of rumours rarely get confirmed, but there was talk of marital indifidelity which created quite the rift)

Technically it is true – these moves did clear cap space (which they used to give Bryzgalov a ridiculous contract), but the argument is irrelevant. There was no pressure to move these players. Here are the players I would have moved before putting any thought whatsoever into moving Carter or Richards:

Kris Versteeg – $3.1M

Matt Carle – $3.4M

Jody Shelley – $1.1M

Andrej Meszaros – $4M

Braydon Coburn – $3.2M

Chris Pronger – $4.9M

Players with no-movement clauses:

Kimmo Timonen – $6.3M

Danny Briere – $6.5M

Scott Hartnell – $4.2M

The Flyers got rid of $11M in salary between Carter and Richards. Voracek and Simmonds are RFA’s, and I would expect them to get around $3.5M collectively. Schenn’s entry-level contract is $3.1M with rookie bonuses, which supposedly count against the cap. (Not 100% confirmed – some years they haven’t counted unless the bonuses were actually reached, but the NHL has tried to ensure that they count regardless). Then they signed Bryzgalov for a $5.66M cap hit (over 9 years!). Now they’ve spent $12.25M.

Here’s what they should have done:

Out: Versteeg ($3.1), Carle ($3.5), Shelley ($1.1)

In: Bryzgalov ($5.66M), draft picks (2nd round for Carle; 3rd round – Versteeg; minor-leaguer for Shelley)

You save ~$2.1M, then put that towards 3 players that make an average of $700,000 to break even. If you REALLY need to, maybe you move Carter. But not Richards. Not like this. Not like this…

What if Kenny Holland and Ray Shero tried to improve their team in similar fashion? Who needs Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Crosby/Malkin, yeah, take ‘em…

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