Flyers trade Carter & Richards in 'tough' decision

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Flyers trade Carter & Richards in 'tough' decision

Thursday, June 23, 2011
Posted: 2:26 p.m. Updated: 10:29 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio and Sarah Baicker
CSNPhilly.com

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Paul Holmgren choked up. Not once. Not twice. But three times.

The man who scouted the Flyers two, young franchise faces Mike Richards and Jeff Carter -- then signed them to what amounted to lifetime deals, had done the unthinkable.

Within a one-hour span, Holmgren shocked the city of Philadelphia, and the NHL on the eve of the leagues draft, by trading both players, who were 2003 first-round draft picks.

It was extremely tough, Holmgren said, swallowing hard. Those were two, hard phone calls to makeI think the world of both of them.

Carter, the pure 40-goal scorer long rumored to be headed to Columbus, was dealt to the Blue Jackets for intriguing right wing Jakub Voracek, 21, plus a first- and third-round pick in this years draft, which begins Friday. The first-round pick is eighth overall.

Thirty minutes later, Richards, the heart and soul captain of the Flyers who once drew comparison to Bob Clarke, was sent to Los Angeles for diamond in the rough prospect Brayden Schenn, 19, tough winger Wayne Simmonds, 22, and a second-round pick in next years draft.

Both Jeff and Mike have been good players in our organization for the last six years and theyre both good kids, Holmgren said.

They played very well for usThey were extremely upset. Its a callIt was tough for me to make and tough for them to receive. Youre around this business long enough to know its a business.

As soon as they were dealt, the Flyers, who began the week with less than 450,000 in cap space, then had 13 million in space and signed goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, 51 million contract.

Just like that, the Flyers have 7.5 million in space, according to CapGeek.com, for next years 64.3 million salary cap, which was also announced on Thursday. This should make re-signing Ville Leino a bit easier now.

Holmgren admitted he had to move significant salary to sign Bryzgalov.

We spent a lot of time talking internally since the end of the season, he said. When you make a commitment to go out and acquire a goalie that you view as an upper-echelon goalie, you know youre going to have to pay him.

So I think things at least internally here, what can we do to make this work financially, cap-wisewe started talking about some things, and some of the phone calls we received inquiring about what are you going to do if you do reach an agreement with Ilya, and things went on from that.

Carter's agent, Rick Curran, told the Associated Press that he was stunned by the news that his client had been traded, saying that had been told repeatedly by Flyers officials that organization was not discussing a Carter-to-Columbus deal.

Since becoming general manager in 2006, Holmgren has not been afraid to make bold moves. These two moves rank among the boldest ever, given Richards and Carter were established players.

Are the Flyers a better team? Thats hard to answer. They most certainly are a different team. Younger and bigger on the wings, much like the reigning Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

We kinda changed the direction of our organization with these two moves, Holmgren said. Today, I like our team, but were just a different team.

Simmonds is 6-foot-2, 189 pounds. Voracek is 6-2, 213.

I said a lot during the year that we needed to get a little bigger up front, especially, on the wings, Holmgren said. With the addition of addition of Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, I think we got two guys who can play in our top nine forward mix that are bigger guys.

Brayden Schenn is a little bit of a diamond in the rough. He is probably the best, young player outside the NHL who is not playing regularly. Do we take a step back with him? I dont know. Hes a tremendous young player.

And the Flyers gave up two, young players, one of whom Richards most felt would never be traded. You dont often trade your captain in hockey.

Club chairman Ed Snider had to approve the deals, too, Holmgren said.

Im sad to see some friends leave, but Im excited for the future, Danny Briere said in a text.

Holmgren denied Richards scraps with the media played any role in the decision to move him.

We think the world of both of these young men, Holmgren said, adding that his conversation with Richards became very emotional.

One source said that the club sat down with Richards weeks ago and talked about a lot of things. Holmgren has said many times that Richards was a tough guy to get to open up.

The Flyers seemed pleased with Richards responses, but the impression remained that there was a wall there that was never going to be hurdled, but could be tolerated if need be.

At the same time, you can make a strong case that Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi needed to make a bold move to get a proven player who can lead younger players to get his Kings over the hump in the postseason. Richards provides that.

The same argument applies in Columbus, where GM Scott Howson needed a more rounded, proven scorer who plays both ends to help Rick Nash and the Blue Jackets.

Coach Peter Laviolette said he was feeling all kind of emotions when told of the trades.

The day you trade Mike and Jeff and where they have been the focus point for a few years now, it stuns everyone a bit, Laviolette said. You look at it both ways: the part that is stunning and the pieces that comes back. Two different emotions here.

Its a big change. Mike and Jeff were elite players in this league for three, four, five years. When you make a change like this, it is always difficult.

Its hard to talk about what is coming in because you compare this and you shift. That is not the case here. They were good players and remain good players. The Flyers? Its a good team but its a different team now.

Its a team that is losing a 70-point guy in Richards and a 40-goal guy in Carter. Obviously, the Flyers expect that Claude Giroux, who was the clubs best pivot with a team-high 51 assists and 76 points last season, is expected to grow in his game, as will James van Riemsdyk, who grew leaps and bounds with 21 goals.

Claude has sorta emerged over the last couple of years, Holmgren said. He was tremendous last year. And James? I cant say enough about how James played in the playoffs. We hope that ascension to becoming an even better player continues.

Holmgren said it was a huge day for the organization and it changes a lot of things.

Well see, he said. I like our team right now. Different, but I like the makeup. I liked it before but this is a change for us. A lot of things could happen between now and the start of training camp and well see where that leads.

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net. Follow him on Twitter at @TPanotchCSN.

E-mail Sarah Baicker at sbaicker@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow her on Twitter @SBaickerCSN.

Related: Flyers sign Bryzgalov to 9-year, 51 million deal A look at the three players acquired by the Flyers

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Top NHL draft prospects Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier get CHL awards

Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier, the projected top two picks in the 2017 NHL draft, on Saturday afternoon added some CHL hardware to their trophy case.

Patrick won the Sherwin-Williams Top Prospect Award, beating out Hischier and Windsor's Gabriel Vilardi, while Hischier edged Swift Current's Aleksi Heponiemi and Guelph's Ryan Merkley for the CCM Rookie of the Year Award.

Injuries forced Patrick to play just 33 games this season, but he still produced at a point-per-game pace for Brandon. He finished with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists).

Hischier scored 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Mooseheads, his first season in the QMJHL after coming over from Switzerland.

The Flyers have the No. 2 overall pick. If the draft goes as projected, the Flyers will come away with either Patrick or Hischier, whoever the New Jersey Devils do not pick.

The 2017 NHL draft is June 23-24 in Chicago.

Missing history
Flyers prospect Carter Hart had a chance to become the first goalie in CHL history to win the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Year Award twice, but this year's award went elsewhere.

Owen Sound goalie Michael McNiven on Saturday afternoon took home the 2016-17 CHL Goaltender of the Year Award. McNiven was 41-9-4 for the Attack this season. He posted a 2.30 goals-against average and .915 save percentage with six shutouts.

McNiven led the Ontario Hockey League in save percentage, and his six shutouts were tied with Windsor's Michael DiPietro for the league lead. His 41 wins were tops in the OHL.

Hart, 18, posted a 32-11-6 record in 54 games with the Everett Silvertips in 2016-17. His 1.99 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and nine shutouts were all ranked No. 1 in the WHL.

Despite missing out on the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award this year, Hart previously did win the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the WHL's Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season. He was twice named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week and had a shutout streak of 193 minutes and 48 seconds during the regular season.

Hart was one of three second-round picks by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft.

End to End: Who will Flyers protect, lose in expansion draft?

End to End: Who will Flyers protect, lose in expansion draft?

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

The topic: The expansion draft, who to protect and best guesses at Vegas' selection.

Dougherty
We have and will continue to discuss in detail the entry draft, but we haven't talked much about the June 21 expansion draft. That's what we're doing today.

The expansion draft will affect the Flyers' plans this summer because they will be losing a player to Vegas, but the impact will be a minimum. They will not lose any core pieces.

How the expansion draft works: Teams have two options in protecting players. They can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie. The expectation is the Flyers will protect seven forwards, three D-men and a goalie.

There are six forwards and two defensemen who are obvious protections: Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Valtteri Filppula, Shayne Gostisbehere and Radko Gudas. Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny are exempt.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will have decisions to make on who the seventh forward and third defenseman he protects. Then there is the goalie protection.

That leaves forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Nick Cousins, Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Jordan Weal and Dale Weise; and defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning.

Losing any of those six forwards would not be major blows to the Flyers. Now on the blue line, it gets interesting. My prediction is that the Flyers will choose to protect Manning with the hope Vegas takes MacDonald's contract.

Probably isn't going to happen.

Of the goalies, I don't think Vegas will have any interest in Anthony Stolarz, especially since he tore his right MCL in April. So that should cut the question here. That would mean the Flyers protect Michal Neuvirth, whom they signed to a two-year extension.

So what is my best guess at who Vegas plucks from the Flyers?

I think it will be a toss-up between Laughton and Raffl. I suspect the Flyers will re-sign Weal before the draft and then protect him, or have a verbal understanding they'll sign him after the expansion draft. Both parties appeared interested in him coming back.

My pick? Let's go with Laughton, a former first-round pick who turns 23 on Tuesday.

Laughton hasn't panned out as the Flyers hoped. He spent last season in Lehigh Valley and both Leier and Weal earned call-ups over him. I think that is a telling sign here.

So I'm predicting Laughton going to Vegas, where a change of scenery helps him out and the Golden Knights get a young forward that can slot into a third- or fourth-line role and still has upside.

Hall
There's a lot to the expansion draft — tons of possibilities and things can still change before June 21 that could impact the Flyers' decisions.

Albeit unlikely, Steve Mason could re-sign, which would obviously affect the Flyers' protection plan at goalie. Assuming that doesn't happen, I think the Flyers protect Neuvirth, especially considering Stolarz's health is in question this offseason and he may not be the true goalie of the future. Stolarz is also a pending restricted free agent, so he'll have to receive his qualifying offer from the Flyers before the expansion draft.

Now, let's say the Flyers go with the seven-forward, three-defensemen approach.

The blueliners are pretty clear: Gostisbehere and Gudas will be protected, as it comes down to MacDonald and Manning. I feel the organization thinks a bit more of MacDonald and his versatility compared to Manning, whose two-year deal last summer was likely strategic on the Flyers' part in planning for this expansion draft.

As for the forwards, Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, Schenn, Filppula and Couturier are staying put. I believe Weal will be re-signed and protected.

Ultimately, I could see Raffl being Vegas' choice. At 28 years old, he's not super young or inexperienced, but also not old by any means, and the winger can play all four lines because of a well-rounded game that complements different styles.

Raffl's injuries last season (abdominal, knee) may cause red flags. At the same time, the Golden Knights should be intrigued by the two seasons prior in which Raffl played all 82 games of 2015-16 (and was a plus-9) after scoring a career-high 21 goals in 2014-15.

A loss of Raffl wouldn't be ideal, but not as damaging given the Flyers appear to be gaining more depth and youth at forward.

Paone
June 21's expansion draft will be the biggest wild card of the NHL summer. And that's not just some corny pun because it involves an expansion team from Vegas.

It'll be the first piece of player movement during the offseason, coming before the entry draft and free agency. But since it will be the first piece of player movement of the offseason, it will help mold how the Flyers and the rest of the teams around the league approach their summers.

None of the Flyers' "big guns" will be on the move and my gut tells me the Flyers will be protecting Neuvirth as they want him to shoulder the starting load this coming season.

We don't know exactly what Vegas is looking for in the expansion draft because general manager George McPhee is keeping that close to the vest. But if I'm the Golden Knights' GM, youth is at the top of my wish list.

That leaves three Flyers to stick out in my mind — Weal (25), Cousins (turns 24 in June) and Laughton (turns 23 on Tuesday).

After the sparkplug Weal was down the stretch with eight goals and four assists in 23 games, the Flyers should reach a new deal with the UFA and keep him in Philadelphia.

That leaves Cousins and Laughton.

My instinct tells me Vegas will gamble (sorry, still getting used to this whole Vegas having a team thing) on Laughton, a former first-round pick.

There's a reason he was a first-rounder in 2012. The guy can play, even if he hasn't shown it consistently in Philadelphia. But remember he's been yanked back and forth between the AHL and NHL on numerous occasions and when he's been with the big club, he's either been in the press box as a scratch or been tossed back and forth between center and wing. That constant instability in both level and position can be detrimental to a young player. Vegas would give Laughton a fresh start, a fresh home and some fresh stability.

Plus, I know there are only so many protections to go around, but Cousins is a guy the Flyers should want to keep around. Just 16 points (six points, 10 assists) in 60 games isn't good enough offensively, but not many Flyers were great offensively last season. Everyone needs to be better there. But Cousins has that pest intangible that can be so effective, especially in the rugged Metropolitan Division, where basically every game is a rivalry game. It's a good quality to have.