As Paul Holmgren steps down from his role as team president, and away from the Flyers organization for the first time since 1995, it is time to reflect on his time with the organization and all the brilliant moves he’s made along the way.
Number 5- Signing Briere
After an atrocious 2006-07 season where the Flyers finished dead last in the league, Holmgren was determined to not let it happen again. One of many of his moves was signing free agent Danny Briere to an eight-year $52 Million contract. The move would pay off immediately as Briere would post a 31-goal, 72-point campaign during the 2007-08 season. Even though he was eventually bought out due to piling up injuries, he was an offensive spark the team desperately needed.
Number 4- Chris Pronger
The hunt for a number one defenseman seemed like it finally came to a close in June of 2009 after the Flyers made a blockbuster trade for Chris Pronger. In hindsight, this trade looks even better considering neither of the first round picks became impact players in the NHL. While the massive contract Pronger would sign may not have been the smartest move, It was the addition of the towering defenseman that helped lead the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010.
Number 3- Steve Mason
While fan opinions on Mason are split for some reason, it’s hard to argue against the fact that he’s one of the top goalies in franchise history. Once it was clear the Bryzgalov experiment was a failure, the Flyers needed a new plan. Toward the end of the 2013 season the Flyers would trade Michael Leighton and a 2015 third round pick to Columbus for flailing goaltender Steve Mason. With expectations low, Mason blew everyone away immediately stealing the starting reins from Bryzgalov. He would sign a one-year extension for the 2013-14 season before signing a three-year $12.3 deal. On a cheap contract Mason would carry the team on his back for years before an ugly split from the franchise after the 2017 season.
Number 2- Acquiring Timonen and Hartnell
Easily one of the best trades in franchise history, The Flyers traded a first round pick to Nashville for the negotiating rights to Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell. Both players would go on to be cornerstones for the Flyers for seven years. Hartnell would record 326 points in 517 games as a Flyer, and Timonen would become an asset spending 519 games patrolling the Flyers blueline.
Number 1- The Mike Richards, Jeff Carter trades
If I were to tell you the Flyers would trade their two young to stars and somehow they’d win both deals, would you believe it? Well that’s exactly what happened on June 23, 2011. Carter was shipped to Columbus for Voracek, Couturier, and Cousins, while Richards was sent to LA for Brayden Schenn, Simmonds, and Stolarz. Four of the six of those players played a huge role for the Flyers for years, while Voracek and Couturier are still pillars on the Flyers current team.
Acquiring Coburn– Alexi Zhitnik played all of 31 games for the Flyers before being dealt to the Thrashers for Braydon Coburn. Considered one of the biggest lopsided trades in modern NHL history, Coburn would become of the the Flyers top defenseman for almost a decade, while Zhitnik was later bought out by Atlanta.
Martin Biron trade– One of the more low-key trades during Holmgren’s tenure, it was also one of the more important. The Flyers traded a 2007 second round pick to Buffalo for Martin Biron on February 27, 2007. Biron would lead the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008.
Matt Carle trade– Another low-key trade for a defenseman that paid off, Carle was brought in and formed strong pairs first with Coburn and later with Pronger. The best part of the trade was they moved Steve Downie and Steve Eminger, whom the Flyers acquired in a notoriously terrible trade earlier in the year.
Acquiring Mark Streit– The Islanders intended on moving on from Streit after the 2013 season, so the Flyers swooped in and acquired his rights in exchange for AHLer Shane Harper and a fourth round pick (Devon Toews). Streit would take the reins as the teams veteran defenseman after Kimmo Timonen was traded to Chicago at the 2015 trade deadline.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com