Philadelphia Flyers: Top 5 Worst Trades In Salary Cap Era

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Top 5 Worst Philadelphia Flyers Trades in the Salary Cap Era

Flyers
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Prior to the NHL work stoppage that cancelled the 2004-05 season, the Philadelphia Flyers were a perennial Stanley Cup contender.

Since the salary cap was put into place to begin the 2005-06 season, the Flyers have struggled to find the consistent success they had in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

It’s no secret part of what made Philadelphia successful was their ability to outspend the majority of the teams in the league. Money was never an issue prior to the work stoppage of 2004-05, as the Flyers routinely signed or traded for players with big contracts. Philadelphia was even used as an example during the work stoppage as to why small market teams couldn’t attract superstar players because bigger markets would always be able to pay them significantly more.

Year after year it felt like Philadelphia was trading part of the farm system or draft picks to acquire superstar players for another run at the Stanley Cup. After all, the team could afford to move their draft picks to take on big contracts because not only did they have the money to afford the player, but they could easily sign another big name free agent to repair any damage done by trading picks that became quality NHL players.

In 2003, the Flyers traded a second-round pick that later became Brandon Dubinsky as part of a package to acquire 93 games of Tony Amonte. The 400-career-goal scorer played alright in his time in Philadelphia, but Dubinsky is the type of player Flyer fans would love to cheer for.

Less than a year later just before the 2004 trade deadline, Philadelphia traded another second-round pick that became Bryan Bickell along with Jim Vandermeer and the rights to Colin Fraser to the Chicago Blackhawks for 20 games of Alexei Zhamnov. Bickell and Fraser went on to play key roles in helping the Blackhawks win two separate Stanley Cups.

18 days after the Zhamnov trade, the Flyers once again traded picks away. This time they moved Rick Kozak along with their third trade involving a second-round pick in two seasons for six games of Vladimir Malakhov. The second-rounder became goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, proving Philadelphia shouldn’t have been so quick to move their high-round draft picks.

Unfortunately for the Flyers, trading high-draft picks is a thing of the past as the team can no longer afford to routinely buy players due to the salary cap preventions. Unfortunately as well, that hasn’t stopped Philadelphia from making bad trades in the salary cap era. The Flyers have continued to make poor decisions regarding their future as in the short amount of time the salary cap has been in place, Philadelphia has already traded away high picks that have become quality talent or given up on young players that have turned into superstars in other cities.

Here are the top-five worst Flyer trades in the salary cap era.

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5. John Carlson

Carlson
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Trade:

To: Washington: 2008 first-round pick (No. 27 overall, John Carlson)

To: Philadelphia: Steve Eminger, 2008 third-round pick (No. 84 overall, Jacob DeSerres)

In June of 2008, the Flyers traded their first-round pick in that year’s draft to the Washington Capitals for a third-rounder in the same draft along with Steve Eminger. Eminger lasted 12 games in Philadelphia before being shipped out of town and the first-round pick went on to become John Carlson for the Capitals. Yes, the same Carlson who is arguably Washington’s best defenseman and no doubt destined to play for Team USA at the 2014 Olympics.

Eminger is no longer in the league, Jacob DeSerres never made it to the league, and Carlson has become a cornerstone piece of the Capitals franchise.

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4. James van Riemsdyk

van Riemsdyk
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Trade:

To: Toronto: James van Riemsdyk

To: Philadelphia: Luke Schenn

Philadelphia was getting impatient with James van Riemsdyk’s development into a premier power-forward in the league after using the second-overall pick in the 2007 draft on him. Instead of continuing to work with van Riemsdyk, they sent him to the Toronto Maple Leafs in June of 2012 for another player struggling to develop into his own, Luke Schenn.

van Riemsdyk has gone on to form an incredible chemistry on Toronto’s top line with Phil Kessel while Schenn has been mediocre since joining the Flyers. In 10 games this season, van Riemsdyk has recorded 11 points and been a plus-four for the Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, Schenn has only recorded one point and been a minus-four in 10 games this season for Philadelphia.

Schenn is a big-bodied bruiser and still has time to develop into a defensive force, but Toronto fans are cheering in the streets they were able to turn a player they believed to be a glorified pylon on the blue-line into a dynamic first-line combination.

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3. Patrick Sharp

Sharp
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Trade:

To: Chicago: Eric Meloche, Patrick Sharp

To: Philadelphia: Matt Ellison, 2006 third-round pick (No. 66 overall, Ryan White)*

In the salary cap era, the Flyers changed their trend of trading second-round picks for nothing into giving up on young players for nothing. In December of 2005 it was no different as the team sent Eric Meloche and Patrick Sharp to Chicago for Matt Ellison and a 2006 third-round pick they traded before the draft. Ellison is no longer in the league while Sharp has been a significant part of the core players who have helped the Blackhawks capture two Stanley Cups in the past four seasons.

*=Draft pick was traded to the Montreal Canadiens before selection.

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2. Sergei Bobrovsky

Bobrovsky
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Trade:

To Columbus: Sergei Bobrovsky

To Philadelphia: 2012 second-round pick (No. 45 overall, Anthony Stolarz), 2012 fourth-round pick (No. 117 overall, Taylor Leier), 2013 fourth-round pick (No. 103 overall, Justin Auger)*

For a team with a history of poor goaltending, giving up on this young player must keep Flyers management awake at night. With Mr. Universe himself in the fold, Philadelphia believed they had their goalie of the future with Ilya Bryzgalov. Believing they were set for in goal for at least the next few seasons, Sergei Bobrovsky was moved to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jun. 22, 2012 for three draft picks. In his first season with the Blue Jackets, Bobrovsky became one of the season’s biggest storylines as he stood on his head the entire year, nearly capturing a playoff berth for Columbus in the loaded Western Conference. He was named the 2012-13 Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top goaltender last season.

To pour a little salt on the wounds of Flyer fans, Bryzgalov was bought out of his contract not long after Bobrovsky won the award and is currently without a job in the league.

*=Draft pick was traded to the Los Angeles Kings before selection.

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1. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards

Carter Richards
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Trade 1:

To: Columbus: Jeff Carter

To: Philadelphia: Jakub Voracek, 2011 first-round pick (No. 8 overall, Sean Couturier), 2011 third-round pick (No. 68 overall, Nick Cousins)

Trade 2:

To: LA Kings: Mike Richards, Rob Bordson

To: Philadelphia: Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, 2012 second-round pick (No. 61 overall, Devin Shore)*

Both of these trades have proven to be so bad for the Flyers they deserve to be paired together on this list. On June 23, 2011 (Philadelphia really shouldn’t trade in the month of June anymore) the Flyers shocked the hockey world when they sent their two best players to the Western Conference, just a year removed from losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in six games.

Jeff Carter and Captain Mike Richards were the cornerstone pieces to the franchise. They were the two players talked about most coming out of the work stoppage of 2004-05 and the fan based loved the duo. They had tremendous chemistry together and grew up winning championships on the same team. They had captured the gold medal at the under-20 World Junior Hockey Championship in 2005 and captured the 2004-05 Calder Cup for the Philadelphia Phantoms just a few months later.

It wasn’t surprising the Flyers traded one of their stars, as it was believed a move was needed to free up cap space. However, nobody expected both players to be shipped out of town, and it’s been a decision that is still having an impact in Philadelphia today.

The four players acquired for Carter and Richards have been nice players for the Flyers, but none of them have come close to being superstars like the duo. Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn still have plenty of time left in their careers to develop into elite players, but if they don’t eventually lead Philadelphia to a Stanley Cup, this trade will be a colossal loss for the Flyers.

In their first season outside the Flyers organization, Carter was reunited with Richards after a cup of coffee in Columbus. The pair quickly found the chemistry they had in Philadelphia and helped the Los Angeles Kings capture the 2011-12 Stanley Cup. Philadelphia gave up on their franchise studs and in less than a year Flyer fans were watching the team’s former leaders raise the league championship above their heads.

Multiple rumors surrounded the Flyers regarding the trades, as it was believed there were problems in the dressing room between the two players and Chris Pronger, who took over the captaincy after Richards left. It’s too bad Philadelphia once again gave up on their young talent instead of working things out, because the franchise hasn’t been the same since the trades. The Flyers missed the playoffs last season and have gotten off to a horrible start this season as it appears the team lacks leadership. That's the same type of leadership Richards and Carter brought to the Kings, which nearly brought Los Angeles back to the Stanley Cup Finals last season before losing to the eventual champions, Chicago in the Western Conference Finals.

The Flyers will hope two of Schenn, Simmonds, Couturier and Vorachek can become the type of players Carter and Richards were. It was a big gamble to trade franchise players for potential future franchise players. Sometimes it’s better to keep the sure-thing instead of hoping things work out. It's ironic the one time the Flyers make a trade with their future in mind it instantly blows up in their face.

Unfortunately, these two deals continued the trend of the Flyers giving up on their young talent and watching them thrive with another organization. Like the way the team trading draft picks came back to haunt them before the salary cap, maybe one day Philadelphia management will learn to work with their young talent and not just send them out of town as quickly as possible.

*=Draft pick was traded to the Dallas Stars before selection.

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