BUFFALO, NY - APRIL 18: Jeff Carter #17 and Mike Richards #18 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrate after Carter scored Philadelphia's first goal against the Buffalo Sabres in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HSBC Arena at HSBC Arena on April 18, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Well that was a busy day. Don't know about you, but my day was shot to hell at 3 p.m. right as I was about to kick into work mode. In the next ninety minutes, the Flyers traded both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and got Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, the eighth overall pick, a second, and a third round pick, and oh, signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal.
Got all that? Good.
So what does it mean? Well, it means that as of 6:30 p.m. tonight, the Flyers have over $10 million in cap space to sign five forwards and a defenseman. This could very easily change (rumors are flying about Brad Richards and Steven Stamkos) any minute, but that's where we're at now. Those numbers don't include Voracek or Simmonds though, who are RFAs. Just like Darroll Powe, Andreas Nodl, Dan Carcillo, and others.
Basically, we still have no idea what next year's roster will look like. We know it will be drastically different from the teams the Flyers have iced since the lockout, though. The post-Richards and Carter era is upon us, which comes about a decade before anybody expected. Trading one of them was always possible, but both? Never could have imagined. And we certainly couldn't have imagined being largely okay with their departure.
It's strange even saying that: "largely okay with their departure." I don't want that to be true, nor can I really believe it is true. Mike Richards personified Flyers hockey from the moment he played in the organization. A hard-nosed player who was willing to fight and lay the punishing, open ice hit while scoring 30 goals and 75 points? Of course that guy would be your Captain. Couple that with Jeff Carter, a 35-goal scorer who played through pain while also playing defense? These two were the core with which the Flyers would build around, the pair that would retire as Flyers.
But apparently, no-trade clauses on decade-plus contracts and multiple public (and private) assurances that those two would remain don't mean anything. The pair that shepherded the Flyers out of the lockout, through the dark year, and onto their best three-year stretch in over twenty years? Gone within the hour. Surely, we'll reflect more on this - I got a little sidetracked - in the coming days, but the gravity of what took place from 3:25 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. on June 23rd, 2011 cannot be understated.
The Flyers completely changed course today. Rather than build a team with centers and defense (Paul Holmgren's method) the team opted to sign a goalie to a nine-year contract (Ed Snider's way). While that contract will surely look terrible for years to come, most people won't care. The Ed Snider way proves that long-term, multi-million dollar contracts are temporary. If he doesn't deliver in a couple years, he's gone. And we'll try again.
Even with the Ed Snider way dominating, you can't help but be happy with the return Paul Holmgren was able to get. It may be a weak draft class, but he turned his two franchise pillars into Brayden Schenn (L.A.'s future franchise player), a #8 overall pick, and two young RFA forwards who will contribute immediately, and efficiently. Holmgren did all this while obeying his boss. That alone should get him through his current contract, but the return he got for Richards and Carter likely give him security beyond that.
So what did we learn today? Ed Snider runs the Flyers based on emotion, Paul Holmgren was able to make the loss of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter palatable, and the Flyers don't do long-term. Some will call it risky, some will call it a step forward, some will call it a necessary evil.
But mostly, it's Ilya and Claude's team now.