If you had told me a year ago Jeff Carter and Mike Richards would be high fiving one another, 1 win from hoisting the cup…but for the Kings, I would have called your bluff. A year ago on June 23, the biggest trade in recent Flyers history would play out. When the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Devils a month ago, I thought the trade question was laid to rest. However…
Saturday night’s OT goal by the blonder half breathed life into the age old question: Who made out in the trade – Richards and Carter or Flyers?
What some need to keep in mind is that there are three teams that were involved in getting Carter and Richards where they are now. Before Carts was shacking up with Richie near the beach, he was freezing the day away in Columbus, Ohio. Fresh off a broken foot, Carter showed some promise with his first hattrick of the year on February 21st. Two days later he was on a plane to LA in exchange for Jack Johnson (strategic? The world may never know). Carts was finally back with his better half 8 months to the day after they were separated by the Big Bad Holmgren.
I’ve thought of dozens of ways to slice and dice the results of this trade and ultimately decided to break it down into what each team has vs. what each initially traded for since that is what sparked the reexplosion of the worth of these trades so put on your floaties, we’re about to dive in.
What the Flyers got:
- Size – Although Jeff Carter is a strapping 6’4″ 199 lbs (ya can’t just give him the extra pound!), last year, that frame was good at scoring goals but not so good at throwing its weight around. Mike Richards, on the other hand, could and would throw his body into any unsuspecting victim but only came in at 5’11” (I say they were generous with the inches) . In their places, the Flyers gained Wayne Simmonds (6’2″, 183 lbs), Jakub Voracek (6’2″, 214 lbs), and Sean Couturier (6’3″, 197 lbs). All three proved to bump and push and block wherever needed and although they didn’t go completely unscathed, they faired better than Carter and Richards in terms of games played and hits (plus, do the math, 3 is greater than 2)
- Youth – Richards and Carter are, without a doubt, somewhere near the prime of their careers. Maybe one is slightly past it or about to reach it or at it at this very moment. Only the next few years can truly answer that. It was important for the Flyers to continue to build their talent from the ground up as they had done with Richards and Carter. Seeing as Holmgren had a history of trading away young guns for solid, established talent (Case in point: the Lupul,Sbisa –> Pronger trade), leaving him with no foundation to build his organization on, he needed to get some young spitfires (or in this case a Wheat King and a Voltigeurs). Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier have stepped into their roles as defensive offensemen beautifully and can only get more skilled with time. 20 and 19 respectively, they have the potential to be the next faces of the team. With these acquisitions, the Flyers are looking to be in better shape than they were this time last year.
What the Blue Jackets got:
- Solid Defense with Future Leadership – Although the plan was to find a perfect center for their perfect left winger, Rick Nash, the flight plan changed when Carter was injured for a good portion of the season. With the season swiftly slipping through their fingers, Columbus knew they needed to get support in front of the goal. The other half of the Carter trade was Jack Johnson, a 25 year old defenseman who has a work ethic second to none. He received the perfect attendance award this year, last year, and was 2 games from making it three in the 09-10 season. This past post season Johnson wore the “C” for the US team in the IIHF Chamionship and proved he could lead a team to success. If and when Rick Nash bids his city adieu, Johnson could be a contender for the captaincy. With a captain on his way out, Johnson brought guidance to his young teammates and set a precedent for competition.
What the Kings got:
- Veteran Goal Scoring – Carter and Richards are undoubtedly a pair of skilled forwards. When Richards was traded to Los Angeles, he made an honest-to-God effort to put on a good face and has come to benefit from no longer being in the limelight. The Kings knew they were getting not only a skilled player, but a leader in Richards and did not hesitate to use him to the best of his ability. When rookies Jordan Nolan and Dwight King were brought up to take the spots of ailing teammates, they were put on a line with Richards who helped to cultivate their talents and guide them in big show hockey. Neither has disappointed since playing up with the Kings and Richards’ guidance has helped smooth the transition. Even though Richie proved he could be successful on the left coast on his own, Carter struggled in Columbus. Now that the pair are reunited, Carter is back to his optimum level. He, Richards, and Dustin Penner man a gritty line in charge of laying on the hits and scoring garbage goals with the occasional fancy play. With potentially one game left in the season, this line does what it is asked of and has been a major factor in the success of the Kings. By adding Carter, the Kings gained Stanley Cup Final experience and focus under pressure… as long as his bestie is on the ice with him.
Each of the above teams is at their own level of development and appears to have what they want on paper, but the world of hockey is an ever-changing business and the wants and needs of teams transforms with the demands of the sport. What seems to be a smart move can go sour tomorrow but for the time being, each franchise can rest assured he done good.