In its 54-year history, the Philadelphia Flyers franchise has been a relatively successful one. They hold 2 Stanley Cups, 8 Conference Championships, and 16 Division Championships. The Flyers were part of the first NHL expansion in 1967 when the “Original Six’ added six teams that made up the 12 team NHL. And in these 54 years, they’ve made a considerable number of trades. Some of these trades helped them win the Championships, while others negatively impacted the team chemistry and franchise years after.
The Trade Deadline
The NHL Trade deadline is scheduled on the 40th day before the final day of the regular season. During this time, all of the 32 NHL teams are shuffling their player deck. As a result, there’s a lot of player movement and rumors floating around. When the dust settles, there is enough heartbreak and excitement to go around for everyone, especially the players and the fans.
A hockey organization trades its players’ rights for a handful of reasons. Some of these reasons include attempting a final push to secure a playoff spot, rebuilding a younger team and solidifying their roster with key veterans, or getting rid of their more expensive players to free up some room in their cap space to get first-round picks and prospects. Also, teams trade injured players who may be of future value to the organization in the next season and free agents who make it clear that they do not want to stay with their current team to get something in return for the player before they move on. These trades are usually for player rights but can include draft picks and cash as a package offer or standalone offers.
Since its inception, the Flyers have had 9 General Managers. Currently serving as the Philadelphia Flyers is Chuck Fletcher. This is Fletcher’s third year as the GM of the organization, and in his short tenure, the GM has already made some noteworthy trades.
Top Pair; Exactly What Makes up a Top Pair Combo
In July 2021, the Philadelphia Flyers and Fletcher traded Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick to the Nashville Predators for Ryan Ellis. Nolan Patrick was subsequently flipped to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Phil Myers only played a few games in Nashville. Meanwhile, Ryan Ellis is an elite defenseman and has become the ideal defensive partner to Ivan Provorov. In addition, Ellis was the perfect fill-in for the loss of Matt Niskanen, giving the Philadelphia Flyers a top pair defensive blue line again.
Fletcher also facilitated the trade of the 10-year Flyers veteran Jakub Voracek to Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Cam Atkinson. Fletcher’s goal seems to be a complete roster shake-up. But a shake-up is needed every so often in the league. Young players with energy and momentum coupled with the calm-mannered expertise of hockey veterans is a winning formula for competing with the leaders on the NHL level. That and a good penalty killer.
Other Note-Worthy Top Pair Trades
In 2011, the Philadelphia Flyers traded Jeff Carter to Columbus Blue Jackets for a package deal that included Jakub Voracek, a 2011 first-round pick (Sean Couturier at eighth overall), and a 2011 third-round pick (Nick Cousins at 68th overall). Both Voracek and Couturier made a significant impact on the Flyers scoreboard, making this trade one of the best in Flyers history. As for the other team, they did not fare as well. Also, it is worth noting that the recent Voracek trade to Columbus brings this decade-old saga full circle, but this is not an uncommon tale in the world of NHL.
During the Bob Clarke GM Era, the Philadelphia Flyers traded Mark Recchi to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for John LeClair, Eric Desjardins, and Gilbert Dionne. While Dionne only played for about 20 games in his career with the Flyers, Desjardins and LeClair became staples of the Flyers franchise for the next ten years, amassing over 1,000 points between them. Both became Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Famers, and Recchi is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In 2007, the Philadelphia Flyers traded with the Nashville Predators, sending a first-round pick for winger Scott Hartnell and defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Both players made a massive impact on the club throughout the late 2000s up until the mid-2010s. They were significant additions who became faces of the franchise during the time they were there. Without this trade, the Flyers might not have had as much success as they did. Both Timonen and Hartnell are considered Philadelphia Flyers legends and will always remain fan favorites.
Not all top pair trades resulted in the Flyers getting the better part of the deal. A significantly bad pair trade that Fletcher dealt was in trading away Patrick Sharp and Justin Williams between 2004 and 2005. At the time, it seemed like a short-term win on both accounts, but both Sharp and Williams were young players who were in the process of developing into Stanley Cups Winners. Unfortunately for the Flyers, it wasn’t with them. Sharp and Williams both went on to win 3 Stanley Cups with their respective teams. Williams even earned the nickname “Mr. Game 7” due to his eight career playoff victories and NHL record of 15 points in the decisive game 7s of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Last season and offseason were tough for all the NHL teams. With players catching and recovering from Covid, playing in the “bubble” without an audience took a toll on everyone. Still, it also gave everyone some time to reflect and strategize. This season, Chuck Fletcher seems to have narrowed his focus on building the Flyers Defense roster. The Philadelphia Flyers drafted and traded a handful of young and talented defensemen in the last few years. These include Cam York, drafted 14th overall in the 1st round pick of the 2019 NHL Draft Entry. York signed a three-year contract with the Flyers in 2021. In addition, Sam Morin drafted 11th overall in the 1st round of the 2013 Draft also signed a 1-year contract in 2021.
The Flyers also traded Erik Gustafsson to the Montreal Canadiens after failing to leave a mark on the Flyers D-Men blue line. The Flyers attained the 2022 7th round pick in the deal. Due to cap space restrictions, the Flyers were forced to trade Shayne Gostisbehere to the Arizona Coyotes in July 2021. The Buffalo Sabers traded the young defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen in 2021 to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Robert Hagg, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick. The team also signed veteran defenseman Keith Yandle in 2021. The team defense building also included two goalies. The Flyers signed contracts with goaltenders Felix Sandstrom and Martin Jones,. Jones is the current Flyers goalie backup for Carter Hart.
The Philadelphia Flyers franchise hasn’t always had the best luck for picking the best defensemen in the league. In 2012, the Flyers traded James Van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leaf’s for Luke Schenn. Schenn was not the defenseman that the Flyers hoped he would be, and the Maple Leaf’s were the winners of this transaction as JVR thrived during his career with Toronto. When the Flyers eventually brought back van Riemsdyk, he was older and outside of his peak years. That same year, the Flyers made another terrible trade and further slashed the team’s defense roster. Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Columbus’ second-round pick in the 2012 Draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2012 Draft. Considering that Bobrovsky became one of the league’s top goaltenders while with the Blue Jackets, for the Philadelphia Flyers, this was one of their worst deals to date.
Final Thoughts on the Philadelphia Flyers
It has been a season of many changes for the Philadelphia Flyers. Still, the Flyers have some cap space to change its current lineup. In other words, there is still hope that the roster can be perfected!
It is yet to be seen how this NHL season will end. We are eager to see what other trade opportunities will materialize for the Flyer’s roster. Ultimately, whatever decision is made will impact how the Philadelphia Flyers end up doing in the short and long term.
The team needs to move away from a shoot-first mentality and play more strategically to be the leader.
The Flyers can still prove what they are made of by adjusting their lineup. With some good luck, Chuck Fletcher and his guys will improve their current performance and surprise us all.
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