In the decade following the Stanley Cup Finals appearance, the Flyers have encountered no shortage of roadblocks.
Some have been self-inflicted, whether through poor personnel decisions or simply poor performance.
This includes a few notable draft misses and transactions gone awry.
As a staunch Carson Wentz supporter (yes, still), I found myself looking back on some trades in recent memory I wish the Flyers could have back.
In the NHL, there are typically at least some level of positive compensation for both teams involved; however, the following list summarizes instances in which the Flyers were clearly on the losing end of the deal.
1) Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets
There is no need to sugar-coat it- Philadelphia has always been known for subpar goaltender performance. That is precisely why it surprised some fans when the team dealt the youngster Bobrovsky to the Blue Jackets in exchange for a few draft picks. While Bobrovsky appeared a bit flustered in his first few playoff appearances that led to him being benched in favor of Brian Boucher, his regular-season stats included a .915 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA in 52 starts.
In a position so historically weak for the franchise, the Flyers appeared to have found their future netminder, who had flown under the radar for much of his amateur career. However, when he followed up his rookie campaign with a string of forgettable starts, he began to fall out of favor in the organization, eventually being traded to Columbus. The draft picks received by the Flyers turned into Anthony Stolarz and Taylor Leier, two players with lackluster tenures in Philadelphia, to say the least. When Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy in his first season in Columbus, the Flyers emerged as the clear losers.
Tied in with the disastrous and embarrassing Ilya Bryzgalov saga, one wonders how the Flyers may have fared during the mid-2010s with even semi-competent goaltending. Two Vezina Trophies later, it certainly leaves me wondering.
2) James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs
JvR has had quite a relationship with the Flyers organization. Only 3 years after being selected #2 overall in the entry draft, the Flyers dealt him to Toronto in exchange for Luke Schenn. This trade clearly attempts to revive the physicality at the blue line seen during the peak Chris Pronger years but quite clearly failed. JvR would have a career resurgence in Toronto, becoming an offensive weapon, including 36 goals in the 17-18 campaign.
Compared to Luke Schenn’s 43 points during over 200 games in Philadelphia, the Flyers were fleeced. While it is true that JvR struggled in his first few seasons in Philadelphia, it is obvious that the front office should’ve allowed for some more development before making such a rash decision. Could some of these sins be absolved after giving van Riemsdyk a second chance?
With the expansion draft nearing, this is one of the most pivotal years of JvR’s career, and he has risen to the occasion so far.
3) Trading for Andrew MacDonald
At the time, the price paid for Andrew MacDonald appeared to be worth it. He was a strong, physical defenseman who would help shore up the blue line and provide locker room leadership. This could not have been further from the truth.
The Flyers ignored most of the red flags associated with his brutal inefficiency and awarded him with a 6-year, 30-million dollar contract that would handicap the team for years to come.
His fall down the depth chart became more evident with every shift, and he held one of the most crippling contracts in the entire league. His eventual buyout came with the stamp of approval from fans everywhere who were happy that era could finally be put to bed.
Making matters worse, the draft picks the Flyers parted with turned into Ilya Sorokin and Brandon Carlo, two youngsters with bright futures ahead of them.
It is nearly impossible to judge the winners and losers of trade until years down the road. Additionally, the success one player sees on a certain team may not have been possible on a different team due to scheme, ice time, locker room chemistry, etc.
In the NHL, however, some players’ career paths have been dramatically altered by trades for the player’s betterment, but certainly at the detriment of the original organization.
For whatever reason, there have been quite a few Flyers trades in the last decades that leave fans like myself scratching their heads and definitely could have contributed to the team dropping in the standings after 2010.
Here’s to a 2020 decade filled with acquisitions that benefit the Flyers!
Featured Image: Eric Hartline/US Presswire