Michael DeNicola

 

That's the problem with a lot of fans nowadays; They fall in love with a player or players and allow their romance to control their rationale. If their favorite player is (God forbid) traded for any reason whether it's to dump salary, strengthen the roster, or (in this case) to strengthen the wing positions, sign a true #1 goaltender AND make the team younger, then the fan goes apeshit before allowing the sense to soak in. At the drop of a hat, the GM is a "moron" and "doesn't know what he's doing".

Listen here, you boob, this is ultimately a business. In order to succeed in a business, the head honcho (or Paul Holmgren in this case) must be ready to do what's necessary when it's needed. Trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards (our captain) away will do much more good than harm, regardless of the puppy loving doe eyes you have for either player. 

 

It was shocking to hear about Richards being dealt when the news broke. My first reaction was right around the, "YOU MUST BE OUT OF YOUR GODDAMN MIND!" kind of demeanor. He wanted to
stay here. He wanted to finish his career here. He loved the city and considered it his home. More or less, it broke Mike Richards' heart when he heard the news of his services being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. 

But much like a prom date, ya thank them for the good time, unlock the car door and let them out, drive off and think about the next piece of trim that's gonna get you to the promised land. 

Same goes for Jeff Carter.

 

What this team needs now is a balanced level of skill. They have offensive depth but before the trades it was limited down the center position of this roster. 

In trading Carter, we got RW Jakub Voracek in return. Though no release of the starting lines has surfaced, I imagine Jakub's 6'2", 214 pound stature is going to help out James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux on an otherwise frightening offensive attack. 

Mike Richards' stock brought us the hard hitting young buck Wayne Simmonds -- also a right winging skater who can throw his 184 pound frame around as effectively as Dan Carcillo, but adds more offensive threat than Dan The Man. 

These two skaters both bring a right handed shot which we've been missing at the wing positions. 

 

"Right wingers are good and all, but we still gave up two outstanding centers. There's gonna be a hole, Mike."

I call your argument and raise you centering skater, Brayden Schenn; A 19 year old Saskatoon native who was part of the Richards trade with more explosive potential than 10 tons of dynamite adjacent to an arsonist. 

Not only is Brayden the NHL's top prospect, but he's also NHL ready. Before acquiring Mike Richards, it was certain Schenn was getting a starting center role on Los Angeles' second line this upcoming 2011-12 season. 

Since shaking hands with Kings' GM Dean Lombardi after being picked 5th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Brayden's played in -- and dominated -- the WHL playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Paul Holmgren's said Schenn's a "diamond in the rough" while assistant GM John Paddock compared him to a "young Mike Richards." He scores, grinds and scraps. 

I try to [bring] the complete package and do it all. I try to play the game like Mike Richards. I try to put up points and do whatever it takes to help the team win. That’s kind of how to play.

Welcome aboard, Brayden. 

 

Schenn's got the right attitude and skill level to potentially earn him a spot on this Flyers roster, but what about down the road? We DID give up two dominating centers in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. Brayden may be the great player everyone's talked about, but he's still unproven in the NHL. So where's the insurance?

Let's all thank the Columbus Blue Jackets for their 8th overall 2011 NHL Draft pick which was part of the Carter deal.

Though beat writers claim that Paul Holmgren went into the draft with the pick believing they'd go after defenseman Adam Larsson (now a NJ Devil), Homer stuck to his traditional ways and added offensive depth in picking Sean Couturier; An enormous 6'4", 197 pound center who most know from his outstanding QMJHLperformance. Not since Sidney Crosby has a 17 year old Canadian playing in Quebec led the league in scoring until Couturier who put up a total of 96 points last season (41 G, 55 A). 

He was simply too good to pass up, according to Holmgren. Especially when you keep his 20 goals in 21 games in mind that Sean racked up in the World Juniors. What's to stop Holmgren from putting a sizable megalodon like Couturier on the Flyers roster for next season?

Oh, lack of experience?

“I don’t know,” Holmgren replied. “It’s one of those questions that players usually answer. We’re excited at him coming to our development camp right after the fourth of July. That will be our first chance at working with him.”

Whatever happens -- Welcome aboard, Sean Couturier. 

 

 

After freeing up all this cap space, the Flyers went ahead and signed 31 year old, RFA goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9-year, $51-Million contract. 

Good. Lord. 

Congrats, Bryz, you best be the real friggin deal, comrad. Because a paycheck that size gives Bill Gates a chubby. 

A lot of bellyaching escaped the streets of Flyer City after Ilya inked his signature on that contract. Even more so when we found out Bryzgalov will be a $5,666,667 cap hit each season for the next 9 league years. 

Hey, we needed a true #1 puck stopper in net. At that cost it may not seem worth it now, but it's a deal that will have time to prove itself worthy come next season and the EIGHT AFTER THAT. Overall, I'm happy we finally have someone proven well enough to make the saves and not allow a lot of the weak ones past his guard. 

 

So what's the fundamental message here?

Pronger put it best when he said "sometimes it may hurt and may feel like you’re making your team worse to make it better.” In order to become great, sometimes you have to give up great players. 

Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were two phenomenal assets, but because of the depth in their positions and rumored off-ice issues, they were deemed expendable by the collected voice of our ownership. It's time to trust the management's decision because when it comes down to it, we fans don't really know all the variables that have gone into this.

Look at it this way; The Flyers front office passed along the message that no one's untouchable. They'll stop it nothing to get what they want and what this city deserves. These moves will light a fire under our boys' asses. There's too much to look forward to to just sit here and complain about two ex-Flyer landmarks. 

Realize that fact. Stop pointing fingers. Turn that frown upside down and quit your unproductive bitching.