Former Flyers Forward Jeff Carter Hangs Up His Skates

Buffalo Sabres v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Two
Buffalo Sabres v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Two / Paul Bereswill/GettyImages

A few weeks ago, the Flyers honored one of their all-time greats. Wayne Simmonds called it a career. After 15 years, eight of which were in Philly, Simmonds retired as a Flyer. In an interesting bookend, another Flyer had recently announced he was saying goodbye to hockey. Jeff Carter has hung up his skates after a 19-year career that began in Philadelphia.

Carter arrived in Philadelphia as a 21-year-old rookie in 2005-06. He was drafted as a first-rounder, 11th overall by the Flyers in 2003. In his first season, he scored 23 goals with 19 assists. His sophomore campaign is still, statistically, the worst season on record for the Flyers as they finished in last place and garnered just 56 points.

The following year, bolstered by the addition of youngster Mike Richards and free agent star Daniel Briere, the Flyer catapulted to the top of the Eastern Conference. In 2007-08, they reached the Eastern Conference finals only to fall to the Penguins in five games. Two years later, they lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Chicago Blackhawks after a miracle run. Carter was one of the assistant captains on the team while his good friend Richards wore the "C" on his jersey.

Then came the shock of all shocks. Carter and Richards were both traded away. Carter went to Columbus for Jakub Voracek, a first-round pick that would become Sean Couturier, and a third-round pick that became Nick Cousins. Richards was sent to Los Angeles for Brayden Schenn, Simmonds, and a second-round pick. Carter would later be traded to LA that season and win the first of two Stanley Cups with the Kings. All we could do was watch as he and Richards were reunited.

Part of that deal was to free up money to trade for and acquire Ilya Bryzgalov, who it was believed would lead the Flyers to Stanley Cup glory. That did not happen. "What ifs" are often raised about what would've happened had the team held onto Sergei Bobrovsky instead. Simmonds, Voracek, Schenn, and Couturier had become very popular Flyers. Couturier is still here as Schenn would later be traded for a pair of first-rounders that became Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost.

The seismic waves of the Carter-Richards trades, and later trades, have forever altered the destiny of this team. Carter spent only six years in Philly out of his 19-year career. He scored 181 goals with 162 assists. When you look at his career, his best years were spent in Philly, including a career-high of 46 goals in 2008-09. His 46 goals is the highest total by a Flyer since Simon Gagne in 2005-06. No Flyer has reached 40 since. Five of his ten seasons with 20+ goals were in Philly, including three of his four years with over 30 goals.

The Flyers, with Carter and Richards, had a dynamic scoring pair that has not been found since. Claude Giroux and Voracek might have been the closest pairing. The Flyers could use a duo like that now. There are some similarities to today's Flyers and the team in the late 2000s. The team was filled with young players trying to figure out who they were. The team is like that now. Much like the addition of Briere, perhaps a top free agent could light a fire under the boys.

Carter, at one point, was a foundational piece of this team. He became a star here. He had a good, steady career in Los Angeles and, later on, Pittsburgh. It would've been nice had he retired as a Flyer. For now, we can all wish him a happy retirement. After nine years, he's earned it.