Though he wouldn’t suit up for the Flyers until 14 years after the team made him the sixth overall pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, Peter Forsberg is on a short list of players who have most impacted the Orange and Black since joining the league in 1967.
It was on this day back in 1991 that the Flyers selected Forsberg with their first-round pick only to stash him in Europe before becoming the centerpiece in perhaps the most important trade in franchise history.
Though one could certainly argue that the Flyers acquisition of Bernie Parent trumps all, the Eric Lindros trade in 1992 was certainly the most expansive trade in team history —and one that ended up changing the balance of power in the Eastern Conference as a result.
The Flyers had no shot at Lindros on draft day in 1991, as the Oshawa Generals superstar went No. 1 overall as expected to the Quebec Nordiques despite Lindros’ camp showing less than zero desire to ever put on the powder blues. Thankfully Forsberg was there for the Flyers at No. 6 overall (there were some duds littered in that first round) and was able to become part of the centerpiece of the eventual deal for Lindros.
Though Forsberg wouldn’t arrive in North America until the 1994-95 season (when Lindros had already established himself as a bona-fide star), he arrived as a matured 21-year-old with a skill game to match. He immediately began producing as a point per-game player for the Nordiques in their last season in Quebec and continuing into their run of dominance in Colorado as the Avalanche after relocating.
Despite the Flyers’ record trade of assets to get Lindros (and to keep him away from the Rangers), the Orange and Black were still substantially competitive after the deal and could very well have met the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final as both teams trended up in the mid to late 1990’s.
Unfortunately the Flyers would make the Cup Final just once under Lindros’ reign, losing in 1997 to the Red Wings, while the Avalanche —though with a superior roster— would break through with Forsberg winning two rings along the way.
The Flyers splurged on Forsberg in free agency following the lockout of 2004-05, but the dogged injuries caught up with the talented center and he was unable to stay healthy in his first stint actually donning the Orange and Black. He put up 115 points in 100 games with the Flyers over a season a half before being flipped to the Predators at the trade deadline in 2006-07 before finishing out his Hall of Fame career back in Colorado where it began as a player in the NHL.
Though he only played 100 games as a Flyer, Forsberg was at the center of the biggest trade in team history and even helped set the stage for the next great Flyers core following his deadline trade. Few players in franchise history have had the impact over the course of time as “Foppa” did, and even fewer were more fun to watch —in any uniform.
Also on June 22nd in franchise history...other Flyers first-round draft picks in the NHL Entry Draft... Joel Farabee (2018), Jay O’Brien (2018), James van Riemsdyk (2007), and Scott Laughton (2012)...
*Stick taps to hockeyreference.com, nhl.com, and Flyers.nhl.com for help with this trip down memory lane*