The 2006-07 season was the worst year in franchise history for the Philadelphia Flyers, but it was also one of the most important years in retrospect. With the Flyers struggling mightily they were able to be sellers at the trade deadline, and that resulted in a few trades that helped shape the roster for the next dozen seasons.
The most notable trade at the 2007 deadline was that of Peter Forsberg.
It was an exciting time when the Flyers signed Peter Forsberg as a free agent after the 2004-05 lockout. The star forward returned to the team that drafted him in an attempt to reignite the spark in a post-lockout world.
Forsberg impressed early on with the Flyers, with 28 points in the his first 13 games, and 39 points in his first 21 games. However, he then suffered a groin pull that started an unfortunate chain of events. A foot problem caused various injuries, including that groin pull. He played in 60 games in the 2005-06 season, putting up an impressive 75 points.
His foot issues continued to hamper him as the Flyers had a brutal 2006-07 season, and with Forsberg noncommittal about returning to Philadelphia at the end of his contract, they got something for him while they could at the deadline.
February 15th, 2007: Flyers trade Peter Forsberg for Ryan Parent, Scottie Upshall, 2007 first-round pick, 2007 third-round pick
The Nashville Predators were looking to do some damage in the stretch run and playoffs in 2007. David Poile pulled the trigger on a deal that would net the Flyers assets that are still paying dividends today.
On the other hand, Forsberg fizzled out in Nashville. The Predators did make the playoffs in their best season in franchise history at that point, but they lost in the first round to the San Jose Sharks.
Forsberg had 15 points in 17 regular season games for the Predators, and he added four points in Nashville’s five playoff games. He did not re-sign in Nashville in the offseason either. It was a pretty big price the Predators paid for a first-round exit.
The Flyers received four assets – two picks and two players – for Forsberg.
Unfortunately, Ryan Parent and Scottie Upshall didn’t pan out – at least for the Flyers. Parent, the 18th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, played four seasons in Philadelphia, averaging 15:51 per game. He didn’t live up to expectations and was traded back to Nashville for Dan Hamhuis’ rights in 2010.
Upshall, the 6th overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft, was a half-point-per-game player in his only full season with the Predators and had some promise. However, he only spent one full season with the Flyers – recording 30 points in 61 games – before being traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for Daniel Carcillo.
Upshall went on to play 548 NHL games after his time with the Flyers, being a respectable depth player for the Panthers and Blues. Carcillo played two and a half seasons with the Flyers, and was a part of the run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, but there’s no real debate that Upshall ended up being a better player.
While the two players the Flyers received in the deal were flops, the two picks they got were put to good use. Well, one of them was at least. Instead of using the Predators’ first-round pick that they got for Forsberg, the Flyers traded it back to Nashville days before the draft.
The third-round pick was traded to the Washington Capitals in order to draft Kevin Marshall, who is most known for his postgame locker room dancing highlighted in Road to the Winter Classic.
But back to that first-round pick.
June 18th, 2007: Flyers trade Nashville’s first-round pick for Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell
With the Predators trading for their own first-round pick, the Flyers essentially acquired Ryan Parent, Scottie Upshall, Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell, and a third-round pick for Peter Forsberg. That’s not too shabby.
Now, Timonen and Hartnell were both pending free agents, but the Flyers acquired their rights and locked them up before they hit free agency. They both signed six-year deals; Timonen’s worth $37.8 million, and Hartnell’s worth $25.2 million.
Hartnell and Timonen were two of the Flyers’ core pieces for the better part of a decade, and helped the team make such a quick turnaround from a dreadful 2006-07 season. From the 2007-08 season until 2014 and 2015, they were out there playing top-six or top-four minutes night in and night out. The duo were key parts of the Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, as well as their five other playoff berths from 2008 to 2014.
Hartnell had seven strong seasons in Philadelphia. His best year came in 2011-12 while playing alongside Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr when he scored a career-high 37 goals and added 30 assists for a career-high 67 points. He put up a 20-goal season in 2013-14 before being shipped out.
Timonen was immediately a force on the Flyers’ blue line. He averaged 23 and 24 minutes per game in his first two seasons and continued to play over 20 minutes a night all the way through the 2013-14 season.
He played a whopping 26:38 per game in the 2010 playoffs, which is kind of incredible. Also, a friendly reminder that Chris Pronger was an absolute machine that postseason, averaging nearly half an hour (29:03) of ice time per game.
Trading away Peter Forsberg allowed the Flyers to flourish in the next seven seasons. And that wasn’t all. While trading away Hartnell was more of a salary cap – and confusing – move, Timonen was the gift that kept on giving in 2015.
February 27, 2015: Flyers trade Kimmo Timonen for 2015 second-round pick and 2016 conditional pick
With Kimmo Timonen returning to the ice in February after being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and right leg in August, the Flyers gave him one last chance to lift the Stanley Cup – and he did – with the Chicago Blackhawks. In return, they got a second-round pick and conditional pick that was converted to a second-rounder in 2016 with Timonen playing in 50% of the Blackhawks’ games during their Stanley Cup run.
Two picks for Timonen looked like a good deal at the time, and the fact that the second pick turned into another second-rounder made it look even better.
The players that those picks were used to draft (or trade for) continue to make that trade look better by the day.
The 2016 second-round pick was used to select Wade Allison. Allison was recently signed to his entry-level contract after a stellar career at Western Michigan University.
Allison dealt with injuries during his NCAA career, but had a pretty good four years with the Broncos. He put up 97 points in 106 games and showed a knack for finding the back of the net. The 22-year-old winger will be in contention for a roster spot next training camp after four years of NCAA experience.
But the 2015 second-round pick is what makes this trade even better.
The Flyers ultimately didn’t draft anyone with Chicago’s pick in 2015. That’s because they used it to trade up and draft Travis Konecny.
It wasn’t the most valuable piece in the deal to trade up and draft Konecny, but it gave the Flyers leverage to make that move. The other piece used in the deal was acquired in a similarly beneficial trade tree that we’ll get to in Part 2 of this mini-series.
Signing Peter Forsberg didn’t end up paying off for the Flyers back in the mid-2000s, but the Flyers’ failures during his tenure ended up indirectly leading to a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, several other playoff berths, and Travis Konecny.