But no one will remember their regular-season struggles if they become part of a team that brings defense-oriented Los Angeles its first Stanley Cup since it joined the league in 1967-68.
General manager Paul Holmgren was rightfully praised for the Richards and Carter deals as the Flyers accumulated seven more wins and eight more points than the Kings in the regular season.
With the eighth-seeded Kings winning the Western Conference playoffs, however, some detractors have emerged. Some say the Flyers would have been closer to a Cup if they had kept the two players - dealing them opened cap space to sign Ilya Bryzgalov - and went with a cheaper goalie.
From here, even if the Kings win the Cup behind standout goalie Jonathan Quick and a sturdy defense, Holmgren's brassy moves still put the Flyers in a better long-term position.
The team got younger and faster, got much stronger in goal (and, yes, much flakier), and is built for the future.
Fact is, if this team had not been beset by injuries to its defense - Chris Pronger's concussion is at the top of the long list - we might be seeing a Flyers-Flyers West Stanley Cup Final. (An aside: The Flyers never defeated the Penguins in the playoffs while Carter and Richards were here. They lost two series to Pittsburgh in their tenures. This year, of course, the Flyers upset the Penguins in the first round.)
To review, here are the players who were involved in last summer's two blockbusters, along with their 2011-12 statistics:
Richards (18 goals-26 assists-44 points) was dealt for Wayne Simmonds (28-21-49) and Brayden Schenn (12-6-18). The Flyers also acquired a second-round 2012 pick that they later traded, along with a third-rounder, for defenseman Nick Grossmann.
Bottom line: The Flyers got a player, Schenn, 20, who reminds some scouts of a young Richards with his gritty, competitive style. They received a winger, Simmonds, who had a career season and is just 23.
Oh, and the deal helped them land the physical Grossmann, who is regarded as a cornerstone of their defense.
Carter (21-13-34) was sent to Columbus for Jakub Voracek (18-31-49) and the eighth overall pick, which turned out to be Sean Couturier (13-14-27).
Bottom line: Carter, though injury-prone, is a dynamic regular-season scorer, but is much more one-dimensional than the speedy Voracek. Couturier, 19, has the look of a future star, a two-way player in the Jordan Staal mold.
Carter and Richards combined for 39 goals, 78 points, and a minus-9 rating.
The four Flyers acquired in the trades combined for 71 goals, 143 points, and a plus-21 rating.
In addition, the deals gave the team much better chemistry, and they enabled center Claude Giroux to step to the forefront. Do not underestimate the latter development.
So as Flyers fans grind their teeth while watching Richards and Carter face the hated Devils in the Finals, all is not lost.
Fact is, the Flyers' future looks bright. Brighter than it did before Holmgren shook the franchise's core with two of the gutsiest trades in the club's history.
Inside the Flyers: (Still) Playoff Leaders
Even though the Flyers were eliminated in the second round, Claude Giroux and Danny Briere are still the NHL's leading goal scorers in this year's playoffs. Here are the top 10 heading into the Kings-Devils Stanley Cup Finals:
PLAYER TEAM GAMES GOALS
Claude Giroux Flyers 10 8
Danny Briere Flyers 11 8
Dustin Brown Los Angeles 14 7
Ilya Kovalchuk New Jersey 17 7
Zach Parise New Jersey 18 7
Travis Zajac New Jersey 18 7
Jordan Staal Pittsburgh 6 6
Anze Kopitar Los Angeles 14 6
Ryan Callahan Rangers 20 6
Brad Richards Rangers 20 6
- Sam Carchidi
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