When two NHL teams are geographically close, it is a breeding ground for a rivalry. The Capitals historic struggle out of the gate and the fact the team’s weren’t in the same conference through the Caps’ first five years of existence led to a fairly lopsided rivalry early on. But that all changed when the Capitals moved to the Flyers’ Patrick division in 1979 and they finally built a competitive roster in the mid-to-late 1980’s.
Despite the on-ice heat, the two organizations were fairly friendly towards each other when it came time to make trades. There was only one big time lull of radio silence, which took place from 1980 to 1996, during arguably the most intense time of their rivalry. For the Flyers, however, making deals with the Caps led to some of the famously bad trades in franchise history.
to Flyers – to Caps
6/4/75 – 1975 first round pick (Mel Bridgman) for Bill Clement, Don McLean and 1975 first round pick (Alex Forsyth)
The first trade between the two teams came at the conclusion of the Capitals inaugural season when the Philadelphia Flyers acquired the first overall pick in the 1975 draft in exchange for Bill Clement, who would become the captain of the Capitals for the 1975-76 season, defensive prospect Don McLean, who only played nine NHL games in his career, and a 1975 first round pick that the Caps used to select center Alex Forsyth 18th overall. He would play one game for the Capitals in 1976-77 before retiring the following season.
The Flyers drafted forward Mel Bridgman first overall and he would go on to play seven seasons in Philadelphia where he racked up 324 points in 462 games.
12/15/75 – John Paddock for Bob Sirois
Bob Sirois was the Flyers’ third round pick in 1974 and played four NHL games over the following two seasons, spending much his time in the AHL. The prospect was dealt to the Capitals in exchange for John Paddock, who also spent a bulk of his time in the Flyers organization in the AHL. He’s best remembered for the goal that sent game six of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final between the Flyers and Islanders into overtime.
11/24/76 – Harvey Bennett jr. for cash
Once a college standout at Boston University, Harvey Bennett jr had been playing for the Washington Capitals for two seasons after being acquired from the Penguins, the team that originally signed him. Harvey was acquired for cash considerations and played 53 games for the Flyers over the following season-and-a-half before they traded him to the Minnesota North Stars early in the 1977-78 campaign.
12/4/76 – cash for Bill Collins
Longtime NHL center Bill Collins was a decade into his career when he signed with the Flyers in the fall of 1976. He would play all of nine games in Philly before being dealt to the Washington Capitals for cash considerations less than two months after he signed.
8/16/79 – 1981 third round pick (Barry Tabobondung) for Wayne Stephenson
Wayne Stephenson was the longtime backup to Bernie Parent and showed promise in the role. He held out for a salary increase for the 1976-77 campaign after rising to the occasion the prior year when Parent went down with an injury for most of the season. The Flyers didn’t budge and Stephenson begrudgingly signed a new contract but got dealt out a Philadelphia just a few years later. The Flyers received a third round pick in exchange and drafted defenseman Barry Tabobondung. He never made it to the NHL, but did spent two seasons with the Maine Mariners, the Flyers’ AHL affiliate at the time.
8/21/80 – 1982 third round pick (Bill Campbell) for Bob Kelly
Bob Kelly was already a Flyers legend in 1980 after having played a decade for the club. He as a key member of the “Broad Street Bullies” and helped secure two Stanley Cups in Philly. He was dealt to the Capitals where he would go on to post the best offensive season of his career with 26 goals and 62 points playing on the top line with Mike Gartner in 1980-81.
The Flyers selected defenseman Bill Campbell 47th overall in 1982. He never made the NHL and only spent a year-and-a-half in the Flyers organization.
7/18/96 – Frank Bialowas for futures
AHL tough guy Frank “The Animal” Bialowas didn’t play an NHL game for either of the Capitals or Flyers, but did suit up for 156 games for the Phantoms after being acquired where he racked up a whopping 555 penalty minutes.
The future conditions are unknown.
3/23/99 – Craig Berube for cash
Craig Berube’s second stint in Philadelphia started eight years after his previous stay ended. He was acquired from the Capitals, where he had spent the last six seasons racking up 1,220 penalty minutes. Berube was traded for cash considerations.
3/13/01 – Matt Herr for Dean Melanson
In a trade deadline swap of two AHL players, the Flyers received forward Matt Herr, who only played 11 games with the Phantoms before leaving in free agency during the 2001 offseason, and the Capitals landed defenseman Dean Melanson, who played on the Caps’ AHL squad for three seasons, even managing to play in four NHL games during the 2001-02 campaign.
3/19/02 – Adam Oates for Maxime Ouellet, 2002 first round pick (Martin Vagner)(traded to DAL), 2002 second round pick (Maxime Daigneault), 2002 third round pick (Derek Krestanovich)
The first of two famously lopsidedly bad deals for the Flyers came at the 2002 NHL trade deadline when they acquired forward Adam Oates in exchange for goaltender Maxime Ouellet, and first, second and third round picks in 2002.
The Flyers were hoping adding Oates would solidify themselves heading into the playoffs, but after getting eliminated by the Ottawa Senators in the first round, getting shutout three times, they did not offer Oates a new contract in the offseason. He played in 14 regular season games scoring 10 points, and five playoff games where he totaled two assists.
The Caps would trade that 2002 first rounder a few days before the draft for the pick that ultimately got them Alex Semin, The second round pick was used to select goaltender Maxime Daigneault, who never played in the NHL, and the third rounder became forward Derek Krestanovich, who never made it past the ECHL.
Maxime Ouellet played four seasons in the Capitals organization, but only in six games with the big club.
Ultimately this was a gargantuan trade that really didn’t work out for either team. A “no harm no foul” scenario, but it is remembered as a massive failure on the Flyers’ end.
6/23/07 – 2007 second round pick (Kevin Marshall) for 2008 second round pick (Dmitri Kugryshev) for 2007 third round pick (Phil DeSimone)
The Flyers traded their own second round pick in 2007 to the Buffalo Sabres in a deal that got them goalie Martin Biron, so this deal was their way of re-entering the NHL draft. They packaged their second rounder in 2008 and third rounder in 2007 to pick 41st overall to select defenseman Kevin Marshall.
The Caps used their new picks to select foward Phil DeSimone, though never playing a game for the Capitals organization (though did end up playing for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2015-16), and forward Dmitri Kugryshev who was taken 58th overall in 2008. He played one season for the Hersey Bears, the Caps AHL affiliate, before returning to Russia where he is still playing to this day.
6/20/08 – Steve Eminger and 2008 third round pick (Jacob Deserres) for 2008 first round pick (John Carlson)
The second of the famously bad lopsided trades took place at the 2008 entry draft when the Flyers traded their first round pick to the Capitals in exchange for defenseman Steve Eminger and a 2008 third round pick.
Eminger played all of 12 games for the Flyers before being dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Matt Carle. Goaltender Jacob Deserres was drafted by the Flyers with the newly acquired third round pick but never played for the organization.
John Carlson developed into a top offensive defenseman in the league over the last decade, becoming a two-time all-star, finishing top five in Norris Trophy three times, including a runner-up finish in 2020, and a Stanley Cup in 2018 where he was the highest scoring defenseman in the entire playoffs.
For the Flyers, who desperately needed a top defenseman through the 2010’s, missing out on Carlson was a huge blow. Matt Carle was a fine consolation prize for their Cup run in 2010, but didn’t have the staying power and was gone in the 2012 offseason.
2/2/12 – Matt Ford for Kevin Marshall
Kevin Marshall only suited up for 10 NHL games since his draft year in 2007, spending most of the time in the AHL. He was traded back to the Capitals organization in return for AHL journeyman forward Matt Ford. Marshall played two seasons in Hershey and three seasons in Toronto’s minor league system before heading to Europe. Matt Ford played less than a full season in Adirondack, finishing the 2011-12 campaign and started the 2012-13 season before a 2013 trade deadline deal sent him to Columbus.
6/14/19 – Matt Niskanen for Radko Gudas
General manager Chuck Feltcher’s first major player-for-player trade took place in the summer of 2019 when he acquired veteran defenseman Matt Niskanen for defenseman Radko Gudas. Niskanen immediately found chemistry with Ivan Provorov and rebounded nicely after a down year in Washington. He retired after the 2020 playoffs. Meanwhile, Gudas only played one season in Washington before leaving as a free agent and signing with the Florida Panthers.
4/7/21 – 2021 fifth round pick (Ty Murchison) for Michael Raffl
The most recent deal between the two clubs came at the 2021 trade deadline when the Flyers dealt longtime forward Michael Raffl to the Caps in exchange for a 2021 fifth round pick that they used to select defenseman Ty Murchison. Raffl left in free agency during the 2021 offseason and as of this writing Murchison has yet to sign with the Flyers.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)