Making trades is an everyday occurrence in the NHL. Most are run-of-the-mill deals that go under the radar and are forgotten to time. Others are more prolific. Sometimes an organization hits a home run and it defines a generation of hockey, so let’s take a trip around the NHL and find the best trades by every organization! This week in the series debut, we stay close to home with your Philadelphia Flyers!
Number 5- Michael Leighton and a 2015 3rd round pick (Martins Dzierkals) for Steve Mason
When the Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year deal in the summer of 2011 they thought they had an answer for their longstanding goaltending question. By the time the 2012-13 season came to an end it was already clear Bryzgalov and his massive contract weren’t going to work out. Meanwhile in Columbus, Steve Mason was in the middle of a free-fall five years removed from his Calder Trophy winning season. In need of a change of scenery, the Flyers made a low-risk trade by sending Michael Leighton, who played just one game for the Flyers during the 2012-13 season, and a 3rd round pick (the the Jackets later sent to Toronto to move up in the draft) to Columbus for Steve Mason. Mason suited up for seven games for the Flyers at the end of the season where he posted a 1.90 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. That lead to the Flyers using a compliance buyout on Bryz during the summer of 2013 and giving Mason a one-year extension. All-in-all, Mason played in 231 games for the Flyers recording a .918 save percentage and 2.47 goals against average, which put him second and fourth place in Flyers history respectively.
Number 4- Mike Richards and Rob Bordson for Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, and a 2nd round pick (Devin Shore)
In order to make room for the Ilya Bryzgalov contract, the Flyers made a pair of blockbuster moves on June 23, 2011. The second of which was trading captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings for former fifth overall pick Brayden Schenn, power forward Wayne Simmonds, and a 2012 2nd round pick (that the Flyers later traded to Dallas as part of a deal for Nick Grossmann). Brayden Schenn became a middle-six forward for the Flyers during his six-year tenure with the organization, though struggled with consistency issues and finding a permanent spot in the lineup. Wayne Simmonds became an elite power forward, who broke the 30-goal plateau twice, as well as hitting 28 and 29 in 2014 and 2015. Mike Richards’ production was already on the decline by the time he was dealt and played just four seasons with the Kings before personal issues ultimately ended his career except for a 39-game stint with the Capitals during the 2015-16 season. Cashing you captain in for two young, untested players was certainly a big risk, but it’s one that payed off well.
Number 3- Jeff Carter for Jake Voracek, 2011 1st round pick (Sean Couturier), and a 2011 3rd round pick (Nick Cousins)
Right before the Flyers dealt Richards, they also traded away their leading scorer from the 2010-11 season Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Flyers walked away with Jake Voracek, who was drafted 7th overall in 2007 but was struggling in Columbus, and two draft picks in 2011 that ended up being Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins. Couturier broke into the NHL almost immediately and became an extremely solid third line two-way forward for six seasons until he was promoted to the top line alongside Claude Giroux to start the 2017-18 season. His improved role lead to improved goal totals, scoring 30+ goals in back-to-back seasons as well as winning a Selke trophy in 2020. Voracek found his way in Philadelphia riding shotgun with Claude Giroux for much of the past decade. He hit 20 goals in six of his nine seasons with the Flyers and hit the 80 point mark twice. Cousins dressed in 107 games for the Flyers from 2014 to 2017 before being traded to the Coyotes as part of the Chris Pronger salary dump in the summer of 2017. Even though Jeff Carter is still going strong today, the Flyers got two cornerstones of the franchise in exchange, which made parting ways with Carter an easier pill to swallow in hindsight.
Number 2- 1st Round Pick (Jonathan Blum) for Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen
In February of 2007 the Flyers dealt Peter Forsberg to the Predators for a pair of players and a first round pick. Four months later the Flyers and Predators made another deal, this time for the rights to Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen, who both needed contracts, in exchange for returning their first round pick that was shipped to Philly during the Forsberg trade. Hartnell and Timonen signed six-year deals and were key pieces in the Flyers Stanley Cup run in 2010. Hartnell dressed for 517 games and scored 326 points before being traded to the Blue Jackets as Ron Hextall’s first move as Flyers’ GM, and Timonen played in 519 games and recorded 270 points in orange and black before blood clots prevented him from playing in the 2014-15 season, but he was traded to the Blackhawks where he won a Stanley Cup before retiring.
Number 1- Mark Recchi and a 1995 3rd (Martin Hohenberger) for Eric Desjardins, John LeClair, and Gilbert Dionne
the Flyers originally acquired Mark Recchi from the Penguins in 1992 after winning a Stanley Cup with them the previous year and immediately became the Flyers’ top scorer for the next three seasons. In February of 1995 the Flyers needed help defensively so they took a risk and traded Recchi to the Canadiens in exchange for Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Eric Desjardins and 25-year-old forward John LeClair, and the younger brother of Marcel Dionne, Giblert. Desjardins ended up becoming the team’s top defenseman for the next decade and LeClair, who was essentially a throw in, was tasked with playing alongside Eric Lindros and the two found immediate chemistry and became 2/3’s of the Legion of Doom. Recchi was later re-acquired by the Flyers in 1999 and was still one of their top scorers for six more seasons.
Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, 2009 1st round pick (John Moore), and 2010 1st round pick (Emerson Etem) for Ryan Dingle and Chris Pronger
The Chris Pronger trade seemed rich at the time, but it was worth it for what Pronger brought to the table. He was the Flyers’ top defenseman during their Cup run in 2010 and would’ve continued his dominance if concussion issues didn’t end his career early. With the benefit of hindsight, the Flyers really didn’t lose much in the deal despite it being a hefty price tag. Lupul only had one more good season in him before his play slipped, Luca Sbisa never lived up to the hype his first-round pick statue gave him, Emerson Etem never stuck in the NHL, spending most of his career in the AHL, and while John Moore is still playing today, he’s not much more than a depth defenseman.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: bleacherreport.com