I know there are users here on BSH who stay out of the game threads because they don't necessarily enjoy dealing with the rapid mood swings, irrationality and occasional unnecessary arguments that occur in the midst of a Flyers game. While I can understand that perspective, I like being on the game threads when I have a chance and being part of those collective mood swings.
That said, when I opened up the trade deadline thread and found a fair few comments essentially suggesting (and I'm not quoting anyone directly) that it's just a matter of time until Paul Holmgren trades a young stud like Sean Couturier for the inevitable 30+ year-old washed up has-been who adds grit and heart and truculence to the squad, I decided it was getting too negative for me, and I want to illustrate why.
lyershistory.com has a list of every Flyers trade ever made. I'm going to list out the trades made prior to the trade deadline since Homer's first deadline in 2007. For each trade, I will assess it a thumbs-up, thumbs-down or 'meh'. Feel free to disagree with my assessments.
15 Feb 07
For: Peter Forsberg
Rating: thumbs-up. No discussion needed. Note that the 1st rounder turned into Hartnell and Kimmo for us.
24 Feb 07
To Flyers: Braydon Coburn
For: Alexei Zhitnik
Rating: thumbs-up. Pretty straightforward.
26 Feb 07
For: Kyle Calder
Rating: Let's just call this a meh, despite getting one of those vital third-round picks
27 Feb 07
To Flyers: Martin Biron
For: 2007 2nd Rounder (T.J. Brennan)
Rating: thumbs-up. Biron played 16 games in the rest of 07 and started for two seasons with us, one of which included a run to the Eastern Conference finals. In those two seasons he posted 0.918 and 0.915 save percentages. We gave up a pick, which wouldn't necessarily have turned into T.J. Brennan if we had it, but Brennan hasn't made an impact (was later traded for a 5th rounder anyway). For a starter for two seasons with decent save percentages, I'd give up a 2nd rounder.
Summary of 07 deadline
3 good trades, 1 meh, 0 bad. We were selling, and so it makes sense that we gave up nothing that would hamper our future.
19 Feb 08
To Flyers: Jaroslav Modry
For: 3rd Rounder (Geordie Wudrick)
Rating: thumbs-down. Let's call this a thumbs down. Third round picks are important and Modry didn't really add much, and later left the NHL.
20 Feb 08
To Flyers: 2009 3rd rounder (Simon Bertilsson)
For: Jim Vandermeer
Rating: meh. Vandermeer's currently in the AHL, but he played for a few NHL teams and contributed I guess. He had the worst Corsi On out of all Calgary defensemen that season, but that's OK. All we got was a third rounder anyway.
25 Feb 08
To Flyers: Vaclav Prospal
For: Alexandre Picard & 2009 2nd rounder (Richard Panik)
Rating: meh. Prospal was good in that run in 07-08 but was the definition of a rental. Picard's 27 and in the KHL, he spent much of last season in the AHL. The 2nd rounder's annoying to give up, although Panik's never made the NHL (like a lot of 2nd rounders). Maybe if you were harsh you would consider this a thumbs-down.
Summary of 08 deadline
2 meh and 1 bad trade. The biggest future asset we gave up was a 2nd round pick. Didn't sell the farm (which at this point included Claude Giroux and two emerging young players in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter) while loading up for a playoff push and conference final run.
4 Mar 09
To Flyers: Dan Carcillo
To Phoenix: Scottie Upshall and a 2011 2nd rounder (Lucas Lessio)
Rating: thumbs-down. This one was bad. Note that it was forced by cap considerations and the fact that Upshall wasn't going to re-sign with the Flyers anyway (was demanding too much and we lacked the cap space). Nonetheless it was a bad trade.
Still, Carcillo was 24, and again we didn't touch any of our true young prospects in a bid to get some veteran for our playoff run.
6 Feb 10
To Flyers: Ville Leino
For: Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and 2011 5th Rounder
Rating: thumbs-up. Not much to say here. We got a guy who'd be a major part of a wonderful cup finals run for nothing. Leino also had some really good stats from Finland, but for whatever reason hadn't fit into the Detroit system.
2010 was probably somewhat similar to this season in that we had underperformed and yet the opportunity for playoffs was still there. Did Homer go and move Giroux/JVR (who were the guys all the teams were asking for at that time) to make a playoff push? No, he made a small move which paid dividends later down the track.
14 Feb 11
To Flyers: Kris Versteeg
Rating: Now my initial reaction was this is going to be a straight-up thumbs-down, but I'm wary of letting our knowledge of future events color what our analysis of the trade her. Versteeg carried an injury during the latter part of the season and playoffs, was ineffective, didn't click, and was moved for a 2nd and a 3rd (which was bad).
However, at the time we moved a late 1st and a 3rd (which is tough to take) for a 24-year-old with potential (50+ points in 08-09) who hit 50+ points again the season after we got rid of him.
I defer to the reaction at the time:
I'm pretty convinced that the first round pick (hopefully 30th in the 2011 Draft) will be pretty inconsequential, even if there is a certain stigma in going three straight years without a first round pick. Our friends (I guess) over at SB Nation's Pension Plan Puppets seem to agree with that assessment.
Read the reaction thread if you want: http://www.broadstreethockey.com/2011/2/14/1993964/flyers-acquire-kris-versteeg
Based on that, I'm going to give it a meh.
28 Feb 11
To Flyers: Tom Sestito
Rating: meh. Sestito has great hands. Chaput never touched the NHL. Moore has a total of 10 NHL games with 0 points. Sestito clearly did better than either of them, so in that sense it was a good trade, but I'm going to say it was meh anyway.
Summary of 11 deadline
Remember this was the year when we were playing the regular season like a team destined to make a cup run. Unfortunately our Corsi dipped significantly without Pronger at full health, and Pronger struggled with health towards the end of the season. With that said, in the perfect 'trade youth for a cup run' situation, the oldest guy we acquired was 24 years old. Yes, we traded a first round pick, which we expected to be a late first, but we again held on to every decent prospect we had.
2 Feb 12
To Flyers: Matt Ford
For: Kevin Marshall
Rating: meh. The definition of meh.
16 Feb 12
To Flyers: Nicklas Grossmann
For: LA's 2nd and Minnesota's 3rd
Rating: thumbs-up. Grossmann did a good job last playoffs and while he and Coburn have had their tough moments this year, he is an asset on our defense. He was also acquired at the age of 27, and so has a fair few years left as a defenseman. I'm going to thumbs-up this.
18 Feb 12
To Flyers: Pavel Kubina
Rating: thumbs-down. That was stupid.
Summary of 12 deadline
We, in my opinion, did well to get Grossmann but undid that effect by losing more picks for Pavel Kubina, who was 34. We didn't move Schenn, Couturier, Voracek, Bob, or any of the prospects we suddenly found ourselves with. We also didn't part with our 1st round pick, despite an encouraging regular season.
Which brings us to this season
Harry Z for Rosehill - I'm not happy, but meh.
Contrary to some of the extreme reactions I've seen, this trade is a meh. It's essentially Mason for a 3rd, and we've spent a fair few recent picks on goaltenders who haven't panned out anyway. Mason's still young, has shown some good things and a whole lot of bad. Worst case scenario: we lost a 3rd. Best case scenario: Mason needed a change of scenery and is much better here.
Point is a) he's 24, b) we didn't give up much and c) we didn't move any of our big-name prospects.
I can understand getting worked up about the Flyers. I can understand getting frustrated with some of Homer's antics (poor cap management, incomplete CBA knowledge, that thing with losing Matt Carle, or his contracts). But what I can't understand is pinning a reputation on him for being a poor trade deadline dealer who will give up a Couturier for a Clowe in a heartbeat if given a chance. That reputation is not based on fact at all.
Since taking this job, Homer has made 16 trade deadline deals. 5 were pretty inconsequential from the beginning (like Sestito for Chaput, a 3rd for Vandermeer etc.). Of the remaining 11, eight of them had a 20-something-year-old guy with potential coming back. These guys included Braydon Coburn, Ville Leino, Nicklas Grossmann, and (despite being bad here) Kris Versteeg. This leaves 3 trades where the return was an older player. Kubina was bad, Prospal had pros and cons, and Modry was bad (although all we gave up was a 3rd).
As the GM of the Flyers, Paul Holmgren has never traded a big-name prospect at the deadline despite teams asking for them. He has never traded a prospect on the roster for an older player. And only once, has he moved his first round pick at the deadline, and that was for a 24-year-old.
Next trade deadline, please reconsider the desire to imagine it is a ticking time bomb where Homer is so bad that all you can possibly hope for is his phone line gets disconnected. Paul Holmgren has rarely compromised the future of the team at the trade deadline in the past, and given that, we have little evidence he will do it in the future. There are teams out there that have traded top prospects of the calibre of Filip Forsberg and Cory Conacher at this deadline. We are not one of those teams, and we should have never expected to be.