June 23, 2011. That is a date that will live in recent Flyers history as a day that changed the course of the team. This is the biggest trade in franchise history since the Eric Lindros trade in 1992. It was a trade that had many moving pieces and many repercussions.
First of all, there were three deals made that day. But before we can look at that, let’s look at what happened to the Flyers that season.
Just a year earlier, the Flyers had made their magical Stanley Cup playoff run. Daniel Briere became a Philly legend with an amazing playoff series. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were stellar during the season.
During the 2010-11 season, there were high expectations. Carter scored 36 goals to lead the team and Richards wasn’t far away with 23 goals. Both had 66 points, which was 10 points less than team leader Claude Giroux, who was 23 and in his third season with the club. The Flyers finished with the second best record in the East.
The playoffs were a different story. The lowly Sabres took them to seven games. In the second round, the Flyers were swept by the Bruins. During the Stanley Cup run in 2010, they rotated between goalies Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher and it worked. This season, it was Boucher and rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. The team didn’t like Bob’s playoff performance (.877 SV% and 3.23 GAA) and wanted to improve. Also, coach Peter Laviolette was tired of the hard partying ways of Carter and Richards.
It’s not often a team trades away it’s top scorer, unless there is a contract dispute, but that’s what the Flyers did. Carter was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 2011 first round draft pick, a 2011 third round pick, and young forward Jakub Voracek. The Flyers would turn those draft picks into Sean Couturier (1st round) and Nick Cousins (3rd round).
Shortly thereafter, Richards was dealt, with Rob Bordson, to Los Angeles for Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds. A 2012 2nd round pick was also in the deal, but the Flyers would trade that to Dallas in a later deal.
In their stead, the Flyers were going to put their faith in two other young guns: Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. Giroux would become captain a year later following the retirement of Chris Pronger. JVR would be traded one year later for Brayden’s brother, Luke.
The culmination of all of this was to trade for Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes for a third round pick. In return, the Flyers got exclusive rights for the soon-to-be free agent. Bryz would then sign a nine year deal worth $51 million. Both trades were made to clear up cap space for the new franchise goalie.
The Carter Trade
Voracek would be lined up with Giroux and for the next 10 years, the two would be a great scoring combo. Both would finish their careers scoring over 500 points for the Flyers.
Couturier has become one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL. While not a sniper, he is a steady forward and one of the team’s great leaders. Cousins would spend three years in Philly before being dealt to Phoenix. He was a steady bottom line player, but never really played out his potential.
Carter had has a steady career for the last 17 years. After getting hurt initially in Columbus, he was dealt to LA to be reunited with his Richards. He has put up good numbers in LA and later Pittsburgh. If you needed a good, steady veteran player, he’s good to have. In 2021-22, he scored 17 goals with 26 assists for the Pens. Not bad for an old guy.
Philly made out better on this deal than Columbus did by far. Getting Voracek and Couturier for Carter worked out well. Final Grade: A-
The Richards Trade
Wayne Simonds instantly became a fan favorite. The gritty forward loved to hit, fight, and score. The Wayne Train often asked the team to get on his back for a playoff run. He played hurt. He played hard. He is everything you want in a Flyer.
Schenn spent six years in Philly as one of the team leaders in scoring. In an effort to shake things up, the team sent Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for two first round picks and Jori Lehtera. Lehtera was ok, but those picks became Morgan Frost and Joel Farabee. Two young guns that are going to be major players in the Flyers’ future.
For Richards, the deal didn’t go as well. Yes, he and Carter won two cups in LA. But the numbers he put up in LA were, on average, about half as good in Philly. In 2015, he was caught trying to cross the US-Canadian border with oxycodone without a prescription. He was released and suspended. His career never got back on track like it did in Philly.
To get Simmonds and Schenn, which would eventually become Frost and Farabee is a steal that has worked to this day. LA got two Cups out of the deal, so they did well as well. Final Grade: A-
Can’t cover it up. Bryz became a disaster. The odd thing was, his stats were good. He was only here for two years, but his GAA was 2.60 and SV% was .907. Those are decent. But when you are paid to be the best, you gotta play like the best and he didn’t.
But we also found out he is crazy. He went on strange rants about polar bears, his dog, and the universe. He became temperamental. Sometimes he wouldn’t play. Then he went on an insane streak of four shutouts in five games in March 2012. But in the playoffs that season, he put up horrible numbers (.887 SV% and 3.46 GAA).
The Flyers had enough of his antics and bought out his contract. He bounced around in the minors, NHL, and KHL but never lived up to the hype. Worst of all, the Flyers traded Bobrovksy to make Bryz feel more secure. Bobrovksy would win two Vezina Trophies along the way. One of the great “what if’s” is what if we had kept Bob and trusted him. Final Grade D
Looking at the haul the team got for Richards and Carter, the trade benefited both the Flyers and the Kings. Columbus, not surprisingly, lost out on this one. Taken by themselves, this was a great pair of deals. But the cost of getting Bryz set this team back. It took another decade before they found another “franchise” goalie in Carter Hart.
It’s a shame Bryz couldn’t hold it together. Maybe the media spotlight and expectations were too high. There is also something a little off about goalies (Ron Hextall anyone?) but Bryz took it to a new level to the point where it became a distraction.
If we could do the trades all over again to acquire Schenn, Simmons, Voracek, and Cousins…I’d do it in a heartbeat. But let’s save that cash for Bryz and decide to not make the move. Maybe it could’ve been used for a stronger defender, a different goalie, or lock up Bob longterm.