Flyers trade Richards, Carter; sign Bryzgalov

Posted: June 23, 2011

Just days after Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said the team wasn't going to have a fire sale, gone are the team's captain, Mike Richards, and star center Jeff Carter, via two separate trades.

Gone are the team's top two centers, top goal scorer, team leader, two best friends and any issues with the salary cap the Flyers might have had.

But hello Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Flyers also agreed Thursday to a 9-year, $51 million deal with the Russian goaltender, who is expected to be their answer in net.

"Today we're a different team, and I really like the way it's structured right now," Holmgren said.

Carter is heading to Columbus is exchange for the No. 8 pick in Friday's NHL draft as well as a third-round pick and 21-year old forward Jakub Voracek.

Richards will be packing his bags for Los Angeles and former Flyers coach Terry Murray. In return, the Flyers will receive young forwards Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds and a 2012 second-round pick.

Being such close friends off the ice may have factored into the decision to deal both Carter and Richards. And Richards' rocky relationship with the media is worth noting.

The two were the last of an era, players who came up through the system with former coach John Stevens. Now, the team belongs to the 23-year old Claude Giroux and the 22-yeard old James Van Riemsdyk.

"Certainly the emergence of Claude over the past few years has been a factor," said Holmgren who compared Giroux to Richards. "I think [with] the ascension of James over the last part of the season and particularly the playoffs, I think we have two good young players there who are on the verge of doing even better things for our team."

Carter has a cap hit of $5.27 million, with 11 years remaining on his recently-signed extension. And Richards has nine years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $5.75 million. Before the two trades, the Flyers had nearly $59 million committed to 18 players for next season.

The salary cap has been set at $64.3 million. So there was little room for Bryzgalov. But Holmgren claimsed the two trades were just savvy moves.

"This had nothing to do with financial at all," Holmgren said. "What we did today was make two good hockey trades in our opinion."

Holmgren did say, however, that there was no discussions with other teams about Carter or Richards until the Flyers acquired Bryzgalov's rights.

"When you make a commitment to go out and sign and acquire a goalie, when in your view that's an upper-echelobn goalie, you know you're going to have to pay him," Holmgren said. "Things sort of, at least internally here, 'What can we do to make this work financially and capitalize [on signing Bryzgalov].' "

Bryzgalov, who posted a 2.48 goals-against average for the Phoenix Coyotes last season, was traded to solve the Flyers issues during the postseason. Their 3.46 goals-against average was third-worst in the playoffs.

Bryzgalov was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, before Thursday's news broke. His cap hit will be approximately $5.67 million over the course of the 31-year old goalie's contract. He will be 40 when the contract expires.

The 26-year-old Carter tallied 66 points last year and his plus-27 rating last year was best among Flyers' forwards, too.

But Carter had just two points in the Flyers' first-round exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins.

Also taken in that first round in 2003, Richards posted 75 and 80-point seasons in 2006-07 and 2007-08, only to score 31 goals the next year (61 points) and tally 66 points this past season.

Coming to the Flyers in the deals are a trio of young forwards. Simmonds, 22, had 30 points in 80 games for the Kings last year, while Schenn, 19, was the fifth-overall pick in 2009. Voracek tallied 14 goals and 32 assists for the Blue Jackets last season.

Holmgren made a point of it, after last season, to get bigger wings up front, and Voracek and Simmonds fit the bill. Holmgren also called Schenn one of the best young players not currently in the NHL.

The No. 8 pick in a draft also is a nice piece. Holmgren said earlier in the week this draft had impact players in the top-half of the first round. Now, that's where the Flyers sit.


Contact staff writer Tim Rohan at trohan@philly.com or 215-854-4550.

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