Jeff Carter and Mike Richards Reunited in LA

Jeff Carter and Mike Richards Reunited in LA

For several seasons, the Los Angeles Kings have been referred to as "Flyers West" due to a smattering of players, coaches, and front office members with ties to Philadelphia. Tonight's trade may have made it official. Just eight months after being traded out of Philadelphia and separated against their wishes, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are once again teammates. Carter's career as a Columbus Blue Jacket was mercifully short—on Thursday night, it was announced he'd been traded to the Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick.

Richie and Carter together again… More below on the crazy course of events that saw the faces of the Flyers franchise separated, then reunited, in less than a year.

When the rumors started rolling that Kings GM Dean Lombardi was interested in bringing Carter to Los Angeles, I admit I was at least a little happy to hear it. Despite the Richards and Carter trades proving to be advantageous for the Flyers (or perhaps because of it), I still like both players. I was a big Richie fan, loved his on-ice game, and I felt Carter was undervalued by some fans. It made sense to me to see the Flyers sign the duo to long-term deals, and it shocked me when they were both traded on the same day in June 2011.

But it didn't take long to understand the Flyers' thinking. It wasn't just a desire to make room for Ilya Bryzgalov's contract. They got great returns on each trade, with Wayne Simmonds playing the best hockey of his career, already scoring more goals than Richards, and Brayden Schenn now healthy and showing flashes of the player he'll grow to be. Jake Voracek has been solid if unspectacular, but Sean Couturier, who was selected with the 8th overall pick that came back in the Carter deal, was NHL-ready the day he put on the Flyers logo, and his future is clearly bright.

But I also felt terrible for Richards and Carter, who got the short end of the "hockey is a business" reality. Both signed their current contracts thinking they'd be Flyers for life. Carter's came less than a year before he was traded. Due to restrictions in the collective bargaining agreement, neither player was yet eligible for a no-movement clause; each would have seen theirs kick in after the current season.

Now, it appears their career trajectories are once again conjoined. Carter won't have to play out his career against his will in hockey hell, and in a way, the Flyers may be off the hook for any guilt they were feeling. Hell even Simon Gagne is out there, along with John Stevens, the Kings' assistant coach who was formerly a player-friendly coach of Richards and Carter with the Flyers and a Calder Cup-winning Phantoms team.

It may not be a popular opinion, but I wish both of them, and I guess by extension the Kings, well. They had their warts, but they were very good here, loved playing here, and wanted to retire Flyers. That being said, I don't want them anywhere near a Stanley Cup until the Flyers win one. That'd be painful... Truth be told though... If the Flyers get bounced and the Kings are still alive... It'd be hard to root against them.

Under what circumstances would you root for Flyers West? Certainly understandable if the answer is "Never," but I'd bet a fair amount of fans still like these guys, not to mention Ron Hextall (asst GM) and Justin Williams. Definitely a large group who have left them long behind though, too.

I'm not sure there could be a more interesting end to a Flyers season than to have them beat this Kings team in the Stanley Cup Finals...

Side discussion: Our sympathies have been transferred from Carter to Jack Johnson, a tough defenseman with some scoring touch who plenty of Flyers fans have wished might someday end up in Philly. With Columbus in fire sale mode and Carter clearly not a fit there, it's a bit surprising that they are the side getting the player plus the pick. While it's understandable they'd want the first rounder along with a quality NHLer, Carter was known to be wholly disgruntled, and also battled injuries this season.

Joel Embiid has some dope slippers

Joel Embiid has some dope slippers

Joel Embiid won't play in the next few games after banging up his knee on Friday night in the Sixers win over Portland. This is a bummer for Sixers fans hoping to see the most exciting athlete in Philly in action.

But don't fret too much. Embiid was seen after practice on Monday looking pretty limber, getting up some shots in some sweet slippers.

Hopefully we'll see Embiid back in some Adidas on Friday when the Sixers host James Harden and the Houston Rockets at the Center.

Stay or Go Part 9: Jalen Mills to Wendell Smallwood

Stay or Go Part 9: Jalen Mills to Wendell Smallwood

In the ninth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — part 9 is Mills to Smallwood.

Jalen Mills
Cap hit: $559K

Roob: Mills has all the tools to be a capable cornerback except world-class speed. He’s fearless, he’s cocky, he’s smart, he’s a hard worker. He just doesn’t have that make-up speed you want your top outside corners to have. I’ve seen enough positives from Mills that I definitely want him on my team. I’m not sure he’ll ever be a starter, but I definitely want him around.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Mills really got thrown into the fire as a seventh-round rookie, didn’t he? It wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad either. It’s pretty obvious defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s loves Mills’ competitiveness. He doesn’t have top-end speed and that’s probably going to prevent him from ever becoming a top-of-the-line corner in the league. But there’s no reason he can’t stick around for a long time. He certainly has the right mindset to be a corner in the NFL and that’s a part of the battle. The Eagles really need to upgrade the corner position, which could greatly reduce Mills’ role, but he should still have one. 

Verdict: STAYS

Aaron Neary

Roob: Neary is a guard who spent the year on the Eagles’ practice squad.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: I’d say there’s a fair to good chance most of you have never heard of Aaron Neary. He’s an undrafted O-lineman out of Eastern Washington who was on the practice squad in 2016. I’d be lying if I told you I knew a lot about him. 

Verdict: GOES

Jason Peters
Cap hit: $11.7M

Roob: Cut Jason Peters at your own risk. You want the $9.2 million cap savings that the Eagles would gain by releasing the perennial Pro Bowler? Find it somewhere else. Because some guys simply should never be released. Peters is an all-time great Eagle and unless his level of play drops off dramatically, he should be allowed to decide when it’s time to go. Only Chuck Bednarik has been picked to more Pro Bowls than Peters in Eagles history. Peters rebounded from a subpar 2015 with a vintage Peters season this past year. Considering that the Eagles have a promising young quarterback who has to be protected and considering that Lane Johnson is one more positive test from a two-year suspension, Peters has to stay. I don’t care what the cap savings would be by getting rid of him. He’s too good and means too much to cut him. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Sure, the Eagles could save over $9 million in cap room if they cut Peters, but who would they get to play? While they’d be fine moving Lane Johnson to left tackle, they’d then be relying on Halapoulivaati Vaitai to play right tackle. And while that might be the plan in coming years, it would weaken the team in 2017. Peters might not be the dominant force he once was, but he had a very good season and he was able to play 97 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, which is huge. He gets paid a lot, but he’s still worth it. 

Verdict: STAYS

Isaac Seumalo
Cap hit: $764K

Roob: I asked Jason Kelce about Seumalo back in training camp and Kelce said he thinks the third-round pick will one day be a Pro Bowl center. Pretty clear Seumalo is the heir apparent to Kelce, it’s just a matter of when the transition occurs. Kelce wasn’t as awful as some people seem to think. He actually finished the season strong. But I think Kelce goes this offseason and Seumalo is your opening-day center in 2017. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Seumalo’s rookie year was a really interesting one. It started with a pec strain in training camp that slowed him down, but eventually ended with his getting some real experience. In all, Seumalo played six different positions in 2016: right tackle, right guard, left guard, left tackle, fullback and tight end. He didn’t even play center, which might be his most natural spot. I think he’ll have a real shot to be the team’s opening-day starter at left guard. 

Verdict: STAYS

Aziz Shittu

Roob: Rookie defensive tackle spent the year on the practice squad. Depending on what happens with Bennie Logan in free agency, the Eagles could be on the prowl for defensive tackle depth this offseason, and Shittu is an interesting guy. He had a good training camp last year coming off a solid career at Stanford and it’s fair to say he has a chance, depending on what the Eagles do in the draft and free agency. Going with my instincts on this one.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I actually really liked Shittu coming out of Stanford and not just because I giggle like a schoolgirl every time I hear his name. For an interior defensive lineman, he has some real pass rushing potential. I think he would have been the undrafted guy to make the team over Destiny Vaeao had he not missed the spring because of the silly college graduation/quarters rule. I’d like to see him get a legitimate shot to stick here. It’s a longshot, but I’m going to take a chance with this one. I think he can make the roster. 

Verdict: STAYS

Wendell Smallwood
Cap hit: $601K

Roob: We spend so much time talking about the Eagles’ desperate needs at cornerback and wide receiver that it’s easy to forget they're just as desperate at running back. Assuming Ryan Mathews isn’t back, the Eagles will have a real need for a No. 1 back. You can’t draft or sign every position. So Smallwood could get a real shot at the lead back role. Can he handle the role or is he best suited to be a No. 2? Not sure yet. I like how Smallwood responded when he got double-digit carries against the Steelers, Falcons and Seahawks. Averaged 4.2 yards in those three games. And he had nine runs of 10 yards or more out of just 77 carries. I know Smallwood is a player. I’m just not sure where he’ll fit in. Maybe it’s the No. 28 jersey, but at worst I see him as a Correll Buckhalter-type, a solid No. 2 back who can fill in once in a while as a lead guy. At best? We’ll see. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Smallwood might not be the true answer at the running back position, but he proved enough to earn a roster spot next year and a role in the offense. I’m not sure if his ceiling is very high, but he got better throughout the year, specifically as a blocker. He’ll be back for Year 2. 

Verdict: STAYS