The Philadelphia Flyers made huge waves Thursday by completing remaking its roster. Out are captain Mike Richards and leading goal scorer Jeff Carter; in is former Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who signed a ridiculous 9-year, $51 million deal. Stunned? Yeah, so am I.
Philadelphia obviously (and correctly) felt that goaltending was its biggest area of need this offseason, so they went out and got the best guy available. That said, Bryzgalov, who is without doubt a very good goaltender, is 31 and never led the Coyotes even close to the promised land. To sign the netminder they felt they needed, Philly had to shed some salary. It’s understandable, therefore, that Carter was shipped away to Columbus. Someone had to go, and Carter – despite his scoring prowess – was sacrificed for better goaltending.
Where I get confused is the Richards trade. Sure, the Flyers got top-flight prospect Brayden Schenn from Los Angeles in exchange, but why ditch your team captain? Richards was signed long-term, so there was no risk of losing him any time soon to free agency. This is a guy that not only was your leader and one of the league’s top penalty killers, but a guy that scored 30 goals twice. Yoi.
The Flyers are definitely better in goal today than they were yesterday, but I’m not so sure the team is much, if any, stronger. Subtracting both Carter and Richards from that lineup is a big deal, and it will put a ton of pressure on guys like Claude Giroux and Danny Briere. Should Bryzgalov turn out to be a bust, June 23, 2011, is a date that could live in infamy for Flyers fans. Even if Bryzgalov plays as well as he did in the desert, will Philly have enough offense to make a serious Cup run?
Here’s Broadstreet Buzz’s reaction to the deals. (Spoiler: They aren’t pleased.)