With the NHL trade deadline passing this week, we will look at the two trades that will forever define Holmgren's legacy: the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades.
These two trades are analyzed separately from the five best/worst trades to avoid overshadowing the other five trades. At the end of the article, I'll say where I would rank these two trades and on what list.
Let's get to it.
Mike Richards Trade
This trade looked like a great grab for the Kings but the numbers say the Flyers are the ones who made out best in the deal.
Richards was 26 years old when he was sent packing but the Flyers got back Simmonds, who turned 23 two months later, and Schenn, who turned 20 almost exactly two months after the deal. Youth was clearly on the side of Philadelphia.
From a productivity stand point, the Flyers got way more out of the deal. Simmonds has out-produced Richards every season since the deal. In 2011-12, Richards scored 18 goals and added 26 assists for 44 points while Simmonds put up 28 goals and 21 assists for 49 points and the 20-year-old Schenn scored 12 goals and dished out six assists of his own.
The 2012-13 lockout-shortened season was a decent one for Richards who scored 12 goals and dished out 20 assists for 32 points. Simmonds also put up 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) but Schenn scored eight goals and 18 points for 26 points.
So far in 2013-14, the trade is heavily favored towards the Flyers thanks to the emergence of Schenn as a solid offensive contributor. Richards has nine goals and a respectable 30 assists for 39 points in 64 games but Simmonds has 19 goals and 27 assists for 46 points in 63 games while Schenn has also appeared in 63 games scoring 16 goals and dishing out 19 assists for 35 points.
There are things that cannot be measured like Richards' leadership and penalty-killing abilities. Simmonds and Schenn are not penalty-killers but Schenn is a decent two-way forward who is not a liability in his own end.
The productivity the Flyers got in return for Richards is paying tremendous dividends especially as Simmonds and Schenn continue to develop. This does not even take into account the fact the Flyers flipped the second round pick to Dallas for Nicklas Grossmann, who has been a contributor defensively on the Flyers' blue line.
Jeff Carter Trade
Blue Jackets receive:
The Flyers needed to clear cap space and a Carter trade was on the horizon. On June 23, 2011 Holmgren flipped Carter to Columbus as Blue Jackets' general manager Scott Howson foolishly traded Jakub Voracek, the seventh overall pick in 2011 and a 2011 third round pick to Philadelphia.
Carter was openly upset about getting traded and did not take well to playing in Columbus to the point where he only played in 39 games for the Blue Jackets before practically forcing Howson to trade him which is how he landed in Los Angeles.
But from a trade productivity standpoint, the Flyers appear to have won out.
Carter was also 26 years old at the time of the trade while Voracek was turning 22 two months later. The Flyers used the seventh overall pick to draft center Sean Couturier and the third round pick to select promising young prospect Nick Cousins.
In 2011-12, Carter scored 21 goals and had 13 assists for 34 points for the Blue Jackets/Kings. Voracek was extremely productive scoring 18 goals and dishing out 31 assists for 49 points while the 18-year-old Couturier made the Flyers roster out of camp, scored 13 goals and dished out 14 assists for 27 points while developing into a shutdown defensive forward.
Carter showed his goal-scoring prowess in 2012-13 scoring 26 goals but he only dished out seven assists for 33 points. Voracek had a career-year scoring 22 goals and dishing out 24 assists for 46 points en route to earning the Bobby Clarke Trophy as Flyers team MVP. Couturier struggled offensively with only four goals and 11 assists for 15 points but further established himself as one of the best, and certainly the youngest, shutdown forwards in the NHL.
Like the Richards trade, the Flyers have taken a giant step forward in productivity this season thanks to the development of their young forward. Carter is having a solid season with 22 goals and 18 assists for 40 points but Voracek is also having a strong season with 18 goals and 27 assists for 45 points. Couturier, in addition to furthering his strong defensive play, has dipped into his offensive potential a bit more with 10 goals and 22 assists for a career-high 32 points so far this season.
As with the Richards deal, there are certain things you cannot measure like Carter's ability on the penalty-kill but Carter isn't even close to the defensive forward Couturier has been with the Flyers. Plus, Voracek has been a top-line winger for the Flyers showing tremendous chemistry with captain Claude Giroux.
This deal, like the Richards trade, appears to be a flat out win for the Flyers.
Now what gets constantly thrown around is "Richards and Carter won a Stanley Cup together in their first year out of Philadelphia so Holmgren didn't win the trade because the Flyers haven't won one."
That argument drives me out of my mind.
If the Flyers reasoning for trading Carter and Richards was because they didn't think they could win a Stanley Cup with both of them together then fine, so be it. They were proved wrong but that doesn't mean they lost the trade.
It is imperative that people don't lose sight of two things:
- Holmgren didn't trade Carter to Los Angeles. He landed with the Kings as part of a totally separate deal which he had no control over.
- The Kings played really sound hockey and showed balance in their Stanley Cup run but Carter and Richards were not the two players who carried that team through the playoffs. Goaltender Jonathan Quick was outstanding for the Kings which is a major reason they won the Cup. The Flyers don't have a goaltender like that but had they had a goaltender like Quick in 2010, Richards and Carter might still be in orange and black.
The bottom line is the Flyers got younger, cheaper, more productive talent in the deals. One-for-one (Richards and Simmonds, Carter and Voracek) the Flyers players have put up more points than the guys Holmgren traded away and that does not even account for the productivity they receive at both ends of the ice from Schenn and Couturier.
These trades altered the face of the franchise. It changed the core of the team entirely. The Flyers are better off for having made these trades.
Given what they had to give up, these two trades both still land on Holmgren's best trade list. I think the Carter deal comes in at No. 3 on the list due to the fact the Flyers gave up virtually nothing to acquire the major pieces in the No. 1 and No. 2 deals. The Richards trade comes in right behind the Carter deal at No. 4.
Hate the deals. Love the deals. Either way they have provided a ton points for the Flyers over the past three seasons.
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