Yesterday I took a look at three things that the Philadelphia Flyers, and their fans, can learn from watching a few of the high-profile former Flyers compete for the Stanley Cup year after year. You can read part one here.
The four most high-profile former Flyers that are consistently around at this time of year are Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams, and Patrick Sharp. As was discussed in part one, none of those players are the top performers on their current teams. However, because they were once important Flyers, it is easy to view them more highly than their current teams do.
The purpose of this post is to look at the trades that sent these players away, examine them in context, and glean what we can from them.
Justin Williams for Danny Markov
Trade Date: January 20, 2004
At the time of this trade Williams was only a few months out from his 22nd birthday. Markov was a 27 year old defenseman at the time. This trade is the classic example of the Flyers “win now” mentality. Of course, what we cannot forget is the fact that the 2003-2004 season was one of the best chances that the Flyers had at a Stanley Cup in the past 15 years.
The Flyers sent the young, underachieving Williams to Carolina for a rental defenseman. Markov did average 23:02 TOI in 18 playoff games, helping the Flyers get to the Conference Finals. The Flyers traded Markov shortly thereafter for a 3rd round pick. Unfortunately, Williams went on to score 31 and 33 goals respectively in his next two full seasons.
In retrospect this trade looks terrible. Williams has gone on to win two Stanley Cups (one with Lavy’s 2006 Hurricanes and one with the 2012 LA Kings) and is on the verge of a third. He is a possession driving winger who still plays at a high level while Danny Markov has not dressed in an NHL game since 2007.
Given the context of the deal and the fact that the Flyers were truly a Cup contender in need of a small tweak/upgrade, it is hard for me to be too critical of this trade. They had a legitimate shot at the Cup, and they pulled out all of the stops to get it. Unfortunately, we are still paying for it 10 years later.
Patrick Sharp (and Eric Meloche) for Matt Ellison and a 2006 3rd round pick
Trade Date: December 5, 2005
Raise your hand if you audibly said “who?” when you read the name Matt Ellison. I sure did.
At the time of this trade Sharp was 23 years old (about to turn 24) and Ellison was 21 years old (about to turn 22). Sharp had shown some promise and had mustered five goals in 41 games the previous season. During the ’05-’06 season, Sharp had already tied his career high in goals (5) through 22 games. Matt Ellison had only scored 3 goals with the Blackhawks through 26 games, but he had more points than Sharp.
In short, Ellison was a complete bust. He played a total of seven games for the Flyers, spending most of his time with the Phantoms. A few years later he was traded to the Nashville Predators for “future considerations”, aka “please take him off of our hands!”
Sharp, as we all know, has gone on to score 30 goals four separate times. He scored 34 goals and added 44 assists this past season to earn a career high of 78 points. A case can be made that Sharp is the beneficiary of great line mates (Toews, Kane, Hossa, etc), but there is no denying that Sharp has developed into a very good player.
This is one of the most one-sided trades the Flyers have made in recent history. They did not just get an average player in return, they got literally nothing… well, I guess seven games isn’t nothing, but you get the picture.
Jeff Carter for Jakub Voracek, a 2011 1st round pick, & a 2011 3rd round pick
Trade Date: June 23, 2011
The first round pick in this trade became Sean Couturier and the third round pick became Nick Cousins. At the time of the trade, Carter was 26 years old and coming off of three straight 30 goal seasons, including a 46 goal season in 2008-2009. Voracek was a 21 year old kid with a high ceiling and three years of NHL experience.
As tough as it is to watch Carter average over a point per game in these playoffs (9G, 14A in 22 games) there is little evidence to support the idea that Carter is better than Voracek right now. Although Voracek is not a pure goal scorer like Carter, Voracek is an elite playmaker.
Over the past two regular seasons Voracek has 45 goals and 63 assists for 108 points in 130 games (.83 points per game). Carter, over the last two regular seasons, has 53 goals and 30 assists for 83 points in 120 games (.69 points per game). Over the course of their careers Voracek averages .68 points per game in the playoffs while Carter averages only .65 points per game, although Carter has played significantly more playoff games than Voracek.
At 24, Voracek is on the upswing of his career, while Carter is slowing but surely declining. Without even taking Couturier and Cousins into effect, this trade seems to have worked out in the Flyers favor. Keep in mind, the Flyers made this trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, NOT the LA Kings. It was the Blue Jackets who sold low on Carter to the Kings.
Mike Richards for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, & a 2012 second round pick
Trade Date: June 23, 2011
The second round pick in this trade was packaged with another pick to bring in Nicklas Grossmann during the 2011-2012 season. At the time of this trade Mike Richards was 26 years old and seemed to be right in the middle of his prime. Wayne Simmonds was a 22 year old, third line winger with three years of NHL experience under his belt while Brayden Schenn was one of the most highly touted prospects in the NHL. Schenn was 19 years old and was the 5th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft.
Once again, there is little doubt that the Flyers have come out on top of this trade. Wayne Simmonds has scored 72 goals in 209 games over the past three seasons (he has 141 points in that span). Brayden Schenn has developed more slowly than expected, but this past season he scored 20 goals and added 21 assists for a total of 41 points.
This past season, Mike Richards also registered 41 points. The once point per game player has seen himself demoted to the fourth line at even strength and is likely to be bought out by the Kings this summer. Richards had two 20 goal seasons and two 30 goal seasons in Philadelphia, yet he has failed to register more than 18 goals in a single season with the Kings.
It may be hard to watch Richards be on a successful team in LA, but he has not had nearly the individual success of Simmonds or Schenn. By almost every statistical measure, the Flyers got the better of this trade.