Philadelphia Flyers: Revisiting the Carter/Richards trades

On Monday the Philadelphia Flyers suffered a loss to the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings feature two former polarizing Flyers on their roster: Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

Nearly three years ago, Richards and Carter wore orange and black and had long-term deals with Philadelphia tucked in their back pocket. On June 23, 2011, both their lives and the state of the Flyers’ roster changed entirely.

Monday was the first time Richards and Carter played in Philadelphia together since being traded. So obviously the summer of 2011 was revisited to get an updated look on those trades. To really understand the impact, it’s probably best to start at the beginning.

philadelphia flyers

Jeff Carter

Both Carter and Richards were drafted by Philadelphia in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, 11th and 24th overall respectively. Both were viewed as they future core of the Flyers, and for the most part that was 100 percent accurate.

In 2007, Richards signed a 12-year deal to keep him in Philadelphia until the 2019-2020 season. Three years later in 2010, Carter’s contract was expiring. The Flyers then signed him to an 11-year deal to keep him around until 2022.

The immediate expectation was that these were the Flyers go-to-guys for years to come. In the 2009-2010 season, these two players led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals. Despite losing to the Chicago Blackhawks, fans, management and the players knew that they had the ability to compete now and for years to come.

The Flyers at the time still expected Chris Pronger to be the defensive anchor, and a budding young star in Claude Giroux showed much promise. The current team looked great, and the future looked promising.

June 23, 2011 was the day before the 2011 NHL Entry Draft was scheduled to take place. Many Flyers fans didn’t expect that what was going to happen would actually happen.

The first trade was Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek and the Blue Jacket’s first round and third round pick in the next days draft.

The trade sent shockwaves through Flyers’ fans. No one really knew it was going to happen, and the fact he had signed an 11-year extension earlier in the season made it even more surprising.

philadelphia flyers

Jakub Voracek

In return the Flyer received Voracek, a promising young player and former first round draft pick, and two picks that could turn into anything depending who they drafted and how they developed.

Within the next hour news broke that Richards too had been traded. The Flyer captain, however, would be heading across the country to the LA Kings along with Rob Bordson. In exchange for their services, Philadelphia received Wayne Simmonds, top prospect Brayden Schenn and a 2012 second round pick that was eventually shipped to Dallas as part of a deal that landed Nicklas Grossman.

The next day Philadelphia selected Sean Couturier with the 8th overall pick, and Nick Cousins with the Blue Jacket’s third round selection.

Looking at that now, Philadelphia fans might be interested to see that a major part of the Flyers’ core came as a result of these trades, but at the time Carter and Richards were entering their primes and becoming some of the NHL’s elite forwards.

Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren was excited to add so much young talent that was friendly on the team’s pockets. Simmond’s, Schenn’s, Voracek’s and Couturier’s contracts totaled around $1 million less than Richard’s and Carter’s contracts combined.

Holmgren probably also saw this as an opportunity to make room to sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a long-term deal, and make way for Giroux to discover his potential as one of the NHL’s best young stars.

philadelphia flyers

Mike Richards

But with the Kings adding Richards, and later picking up Carter from Columbus at that years trade deadline for Jack Johnson and a first round pick, making LA Carter’s third team of the year, the Kings appeared to have “won” the trade.

Despite barely making the postseason as the eight seed in the West, LA was able to dominate their competition on their way to the franchises first Stanley Cup Championship.

Now that we are nearly three years down the road, it’s safe to say that there is enough information to determine who got the better of the trades.

If there is an absolute loser right now, it’s Columbus. They got their guy in Carter, a legitimate first line center to pair with superstar Rick Nash. Nash was traded to the New York Rangers, and Carter went to LA. Columbus did get Jack Johnson, who is the best piece so far from trading those two guys, but as the Jackets fight for a playoff spot in the East, they currently don’t have much to boast.

So with them out of the picture, it narrows down to LA and Philadelphia. One got their cup, and the other got the future.

Since the trades, here are what each player involved numbers look like (2012-2013 season shortened due to lockout) (GP- games played, G- goals, A- assists, avgTOI- average time on ice):

  • Mike Richards- 195 GP, 41 G, 76 A, 17:25 avgTOI
  • Jeff Carter- 166 GP, 72 G, 41 A, 18:17 avgTOI
  • Wayne Simmonds- 198 GP, 67 G, 68 A, 16:05 avgTOI
  • Brayden Schenn- 172 GP, 38 G, 45 A, 15:09 avgTOI
  • Jakub Voracek- 197 GP, 60 G, 88 A, 16:57 avgTOI
  • Sean Couturier- 194 GP, 27 G, 51 A, 16:24 avgTOI

Richards plays over a minute more than both Simmonds and Schenn, but the two Flyers tallied 101 more total points than Richards in the past three seasons combined.

This season in particular, Richards has struggled to find the net with only 11 goals. Simmonds and Schenn have nearly quadrupled that total this season and really cemented their places in the league.

philadelphia flyers

Wayne Simmonds

Schenn, who was once thought by some to be the top prospect in the NHL, has had a breakout season in a contract year. He is expected to resign this offseason. Simmonds has turned into one of the NHL’s top power forwards and a fan favorite in Philadelphia. He also eclipsed the 50-point mark for the first time in his career this season.

Carter averages nearly a minute and a half more than both Voracek and Couturier (with the exception of the 2013-14 season because Couturier averages 19:10 on the ice, mainly because the amount of time spent on the penalty kill). Carter has scored only 15 less goals than the two combined since the trade, but he hasn’t even amassed a third of the amount of assists that they have.

Another thing to note is Couturier’s presence on the penalty kill. This season he has made himself into one of the NHL’s top penalty killers, and rarely leaves the ice during a short-handed situation. He has made himself an irreplaceable player on Philadelphia’s roster.

Carter and Richards, both 29, still have the better part of a decade left on their contracts. Couturier signed a two-year deal effective next season, Simmonds is in his first year of a six-year deal, Voracek is in his second year of a four-year deal and Schenn is likely the next to be signed. Simmonds is also the oldest member of that group at 25-years-old.

So who is the winner?

In reality, still no one yet. Richards and Carter are part of a highly competitive LA Kings team, and more Stanley Cups are not out of the question. Carter is still a top player, and despite Richards down season, there is nothing saying he won’t turn it around next year. Many players have been successful well into their 30’s, so nothing points to these two not doing the same.

philadelphia flyers

Sean Couturier

Simmonds, Schenn, Voracek and Couturier help form the incredibly young and talented core of the Flyers. They have played a large role in giving fans hope for future championships. At their age, they still have many years left in the NHL, and any one of them could develop into an all-star one day.

Right now, LA probably has the slight upper hand because the trades they made did bring them their first cup. However, Philadelphia has a young team that shows promise to grab that elusive third Stanley Cup in franchise history sometime in the near future.

HartnellDown Tracker: Scott currently sits at 237 HartnellDowns on the year.