When the Carter and Richards trades initially happened there was no doubt a sudden onset of panic throughout Philly. We were going into that dreaded rebuilding phase. Fortunately for us we have a GM who basically made a lateral move with tons of potential upside. The Flyers got as far in the playoffs this season as they did last season so I would say the transition was nearly painless.
Jeff Carter is a goal scorer. That’s his game and it is what he does best. Cartsy had two 30 goal seasons and one 40 goal season in his six years with the Flyers. The most notable problem with Jeff was that he would put up good numbers every season, but nobody could recall a single goal he scored. Carter was infamous for potting a hat trick against a last place team in regular season game 26. He had no knack for the big moments and you can reference this chance from game 6 of the 2010 Cup Finals if you need to be reminded. The game is won and lost on goals so this is not to belittle Carter’s accomplishments. A team also needs clutch guys though. The type of players that deliver in crunch time. Those are the kind of players that win you championships, but it can also be said that players like Carter get you there. The bottom line with Carter is that he is a one trick pony. If he’s not scoring goals he’s nearly invisible on the ice.
Sean Couturier was taken 8th overall by the Flyers in last years NHL Entry Draft. They received the pick in the Jeff Carter trade along with Jake Voracek. Jake’s stats this year were 18/31/49. He had some really good stretches this year offensively and career wise he was 2 points shy of a career high. Couturier on the other hand was the jewel in the trade though. Sean’s two way game is unbelievable. I would argue that his defensive game is similar to Pavel Datsyuk. The job he did on Malkin in the first round was ridiculous. The fact that Laviolette had the confidence to put such a large assignment on a 19 year old shows just how good this kid is. Malkin is a two time Art Ross Trophy winner. Last season being the second time he collected the hardware. Couturier was constantly draped over him and stick checking him every single time he possessed the puck. His offensive game was on display in a few games this season also. Although on paper he had a rather unimpressive stat line of 13/14/27 in 77 games played he was relegated to third and fourth line duties almost the entire season. His defensive game was what was of most use to this team, which had incredible depth at the forward position. He also dominated game 2 of the first round against the Pens. He had a hat trick in that game in which he was still being played on the fourth line. That was huge step for him offensively as it showed he has the raw offensive talent to take over a game. The problem is that many players, for example JVR, have the natural ability, but fail to use it on a nightly basis. I believe his true offensive talent has yet to be unleashed though. If I had to separate him and JVR using one phrase it would be that Sean’s a gamer and JVR just is not. I think Sean has that extra edge to his game that only the great ones play with. If he receives more playing time on one of the top two scoring lines he will no doubt eclipse 20 goals this year. He’s shown great maturity in just his rookie year at 19 years old. His career should be a good one to watch.
When it comes down to looking at what was won or lost in the trade I would say the Flyers lost some goal scoring. That is what Carter brought to the team. The Flyers however received a forward who will put up around 15 goals a season and the draft pick in which they used to bring Couturier in. In my opinion the trade got both teams want they wanted. The Blue Jackets needed to put pucks in the net and the Flyers needed a change in direction and a plan for the future. The Flyers received young talent with a lot of potential and the Blue Jackets got their goal scorer they sought after. As the trade played out Carter’s time in Columbus was short and unproductive, but as can be seen by his play with the Kings now he is clearly still a potent goal scorer.
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