Philly’s Frantic Offseason

After a wild off season, questions are swirling around the Philadelphia
Flyers. Trading their captain of three years, Mike Richards, as well as Jeff
, a player who scored 115 goals over the last three seasons, caused some
controversy, but the package of assets acquired with the moves more than
compensates for the loss of these established stars.

Jeff Carter looks to continue his goal scoring in Columbus

In the trade that sent Carter, the former eleventh-overall draft pick, to Columbus, the Flyers received the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft and former seventh-overall pick, 22-year-old Jakub Voracek, in essence acquiring two first rounders for the price of one. They used the eighth-overall pick to select
Sean Couturier, a player who was projected as a top five pick leading into the draft.
Jakub Voracek, the second asset in the deal, is a top six winger who has
only played three full seasons in the NHL. Voracek has yet to break the 20 goal
plateau in the NHL, but his potential to score more than 30 goals a year is
undeniable. He now has the opportunity with a very skilled Flyers team to reach
the level of dominance he achieved in the Quebec League with Halifax, where he
scored 33 goals and 101 points in just 59 games during the 2007-2008 QMJHL
When Mike Richards was traded to Los Angeles, the Kings were forced to part
with two of their most prized up-and-comers: right winger Wayne Simmonds, and

Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek Brayden Schenn.

Simmonds is already a strong two-way winger in the NHL and has the potential to be a power-forward built in the mold of Milan Lucic, with more speed. Simmonds has some sandpaper in his game as well, which will quickly endear him to the fans in Philadelphia. During his second year in the OHL, Simmonds posted 33 goals along with 111 penalty minutes in 60 games split between Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie. Simmonds is solid in his own zone with a plus-12 over his three NHL seasons.

Flyer fans should be very excited from picking up Simmonds, but Brayden Schenn was the key piece in the deal. Schenn was ranked by The Hockey News as the number one player outside the NHL in their 2011 edition of the annual Future Watch. Schenn is not only a skilled two way center man but has also proven himself as a go-to player on the big stage. In the 2011 World Junior Championship Schenn put up eight goals and 18 points in just seven games, tying Canada’s record for most points in a single tournament. He was also named The Most Valuable Player and Best Forward at the tournament. Schenn Wonsilver at both the 2010 and 2011 World JuniorChampionships with Canada as well as gold at both the 2008 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the 2008 IIHF World U18 Championships. The Flyers are hoping Schenn will help to fill the void left with Richards’ departure.

“He has similar qualities to Mike,” Philadelphia General Manager Paul Holmgren told The Hockey News. “Leadership. Offensive. Defensive. He’s tough, competitive. There are a lot of similarities.”

Perhaps the largest positive coming out of the two blockbuster deals is the amount of cap space opened up to allow the club to sign free-agent net minder Ilya Bryzgalov. Holmgren signed the Russian goaltender to a font-loaded nine-year, $51 million

Ilya Bryzgalov is done in the desert and is headed to Broad Street

contract making a last-ditch effort to solve the perennial problems on Broad Street. Bryzgalov has yet to prove his worth in the playoffs, but has been largely responsible for bringing his weak Coyote clubs to the post season in the first place. Philadelphia is hoping he can find his post-season groove while helping with the development of the Russian youngster Sergei Bobrovsky who struggled down the stretch in the Flyers starting role.

Philadelphia also came away as victor in the league-wide courtship of 646-goal scorer Jaromir Jagr. Jagr is a gamble to say the least, but he is a proven offensive dynamo who is worth the risk.
Also coming to the Flyers through free-agency was cross-state rival and rugged forward Maxime Talbot. Talbot will bring toughness without giving up discipline, which the team desperately needs. This area will also be aided with the departure of hot-headed winger Daniel Carcillo.
Just one year removed from a 14-win playoff run, Holmgren lived up to his and the Flyer’s bold and brash reputation by making a number of moves that he feels will better his organization in the long run. After last season’s embarrassing playoff exit, the glaring hole in the Philadelphia lineup was in the goal crease. Holmgren was forced into a number of chess moves to help facilitate the Bryzgalov signing but did so in a calculated fashion that will ultimately make his club a cup contender for many years to come.

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