Watching the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012 hurt a little bit. Even if you were “happy” for the former Flyers on their team, it was still painful watching them raise the Cup without the Flyers crest across their jersey.
Well, we can only hope that Columbus Blue Jacket fans feel the same way about the Philadelphia Flyers in a few short years. As Flyers fans can point to Carter, Richards, and Gagne as former core players, the Blue Jackets can point to Jakub Voracek and Steve Mason, and in an indirect way, to both Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins as core pieces of their once up and coming roster. If the Flyers are to win the Cup in the next few years, all of those players will most certainly have a key role on the team.
Until last season the Columbus Blue Jackets were in the Western Conference. The team moved over to the Eastern Conference this season and is in the lousy Metropolitan Division. Over the past couple of years, the Flyers and Blue Jackets have been frequent trading partners. Jeff Carter, Sergei Bobrovsky, Steve Mason, andJjakub Voracek have all been traded between the two teams. With the two of them set to play a home and home series on Thursday night and Saturday night, these trades take on a whole new dimension.
Both Steve Mason and Jakub Voracek were Columbus draft picks. The Blue Jackets selected Mason 69th overall in 2006 and Voracek 7th overall in 2007. Both players were rookies in 2008-2009 and Mason had the superior season, winning the Calder trophy. However, in the years since then, Voracek has steadily developed while Mason has slowed down. The Flyers acquired Voracek in the summer of 2011 in the Jeff Carter deal. The Blue Jackets sent Voracek, their 1st round pick (Couturier), and their third round pick (Cousins) to the Flyers for Carter. The Flyers dealt for Mason at last season’s trade deadline. They sent Columbus Michael Leighton and a 2015 3rd round pick.
Mason and Voracek had only one playoff season with the Blue Jackets. They were the 7th seed in the West in 2009 (Mason and Voracek’s rookie year) and were swept by the Red Wings.
Between those two deals was a trade that made many Flyers sick to their stomach last season. As the Flyers watched their $51 million goalie play incredibly average (although he started the season strong), the Blue Jackets goaltender won the Vezina trophy. That goaltender was the young Russian, Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky was originially signed by Philadelphia in May of 2010 when he was just 21 years old. He played parts of two season with the Flyers before they gave up on him and sent him to Columbus in the 2012 off season for a 2nd round pick and two 4th round picks.
The Philadelphia Flyers drafted both Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins in 2011 with the picks they received from Columbus. They are both 20 year old centers with plenty of upside. Couturier is becoming a two-way NHL force, while Cousins is continuing to develop in the AHL after a great final OHL season. There is no guarantee that either of these players would have ever suited up for the Blue Jackets, but whoever they used those picks on would certainly help their team.
With the addition of the Blue Jackets to the Metropolitan Division their fans will get to see what their once promising prospects have become. Voracek is blossoming into a top line winger and Mason seems to have revived his career. Both Couturier and Cousins figure to fit into the Flyers long-term plans. However, arguably the best two players traded by these two teams have been traded from the Flyers to the Blue Jackets. Jeff Carter did not do very much for the Blue Jackets before being traded to the Kings, but Sergei Bobrovsky has already picked up one Vezina trophy.
The trades that have happened between the Blue Jackets and Flyers over the past few years have had a big impact on both teams. Philadelphia is building around key pieces that once belonged to Columbus and Columbus’ franchise goaltender got his start in Philadelphia. Being division foes will bring more scrutiny to these trades and make the match-ups even more fun.