Much has been made of the two blockbuster trades made on Thursday that saw the Philadelphia Flyers send captain Mike Richards and sniper Jeff Carter to Los Angeles and Columbus, respectively.
The return? Youth and potential.
Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, a future 2nd round draft pick (from Los Angeles), and the 8th and 68th overall picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (both from Columbus).
That’s a whole lot of unproven potential, although I’ll acknowledge Schenn is about as close to a slam dunk as a 19-year old prospect can be.
The Flyers change of direction, moving towards youth and the future, is an interesting one, but perhaps one that puts too much faith in their organization.
Philadelphia hasn’t relied on developing their own prospects much in recent memory. A quick look at their depth chart (prior to Thursday’s trades) shows Eric Wellwood as arguably their most complete prospect (!). Philadelphia have traded a lot of first round picks in the last few years (two future picks, plus a first round prospect in the 2009 Chris Pronger trade alone), and it shows in the Flyers “prospect cupboard.”
For a department that hasn’t gotten much of a workout in the last few years (read: developed much), the Flyers are putting an awful lot of stock into their drafting and development department.
In order for these trades to be considered a success (or even justifiable!), Brayden Schenn needs to work out in a big way. Needs to. The pressures in a hockey city like Philadelphia crush that of Los Angeles (obviously). The Flyers need to ensure Schenn is properly supported, insulated and developed. They’ll need to show patience with Schenn. The Flyers also have to get the 2011 eighth overall pick Sean Couturier right. If they don’t, the performance of Simmonds and Voracek in the next few years doesn’t even matter.
Interesting decisions made by the Flyers last week. I guess time will tell all, but GM Paul Holmgren and co are putting a lot of faith into a system with major cobwebs. Not sure how this one will play out.
Stay classy, Philadelphia Flyers.