That Just Happened: Dissecting the Madness


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Stupefying. Crazy. Insane. Dean Lombardi showed some balls. Paul Holmgren did everything he said he wouldn’t. Eklund kind of got something right. Does it all add up to one of the most memorable trade days in recent NHL history? When you’ve got the best prospect in hockey, and two star players moving residency you might just have to get creative with the old vocabulary to find a more suitable word for it. It’s not everyday you see two star centermen dealt, let alone from the same team.

The Philadelphia Flyers traded top goal scorer Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Jakub Voracek and the club’s first- and third-round picks. I guess that wasn’t enough for the Broad Street Bullies as they finished blowing up the team by dealing their captain, Mike Richards to the LA Kings in exchange for Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a 2nd round pick. Then, the Flyers signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, whose rights they acquired during this off season a third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, forward Matt Clackson, and future considerations, to a nine year, 51 million dollar deal.

I know, right?

The Flyers got the best prospect in hockey, but you’ve got to wonder about the logic behind it. Blowing up the team? Sure, if that team didn’t have the potential to be a perennial contender and hadn’t made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010. But they did. Not only that but if you planned to get rid of their cap hit/contracts, why sign a goalie to a nine year, 51 million dollar deal?

You’ve got to wonder whether or not those rumors about the dressing room problem with Richards, Pronger, Carter et al were true. When you put the pieces together, there were just too many scandalous rumors circulating about a toxic dressing room environment for there not to be something to it.Richards and Carter had NTCs kicking in July 1 on their 12-year contracts, but it’s hard to find another conclusion when Holmgren subsequently signed Bryzgalov to a nine-year deal.

What does this mean for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Make no mistake, this was a extraordinarily rare opportunity at a shot at not one, but two elite centermen; the exact need Burke is trying to address this summer. The fact that the Leafs are an Eastern Conference team might have hurt Burke’s chances as much as anything. The package LA forked over for Richards might have been unmatchable, but it seems the Leafs had the value to match or better what Philly fetched from Columbus for Carter.

Update from Darren Dreger: “Dreger: Leafs were also interested in Carter and Kadri was discussed, but Tor wouldn’t include Kulemin to close deal for Carter.

Flyers asked for Kadri and Kulemin from the Leafs for Mike Richards. Toronto said they would consider it, but never heard back from Phi.”

So, what’s left? It’s pretty clear that the Brad Richards race just lost one competitive suitor – the LA Kings, but an even more dangerous one has entered the sweepstakes. The only credible logic behind the events that occurred today is: The Flyers now need a No1 center. Brad Richards is available. They have the cap space and the positional need for just such a player. Apparently massive contracts still aren’t out of the question.

Brian Burke won’t like his lack of involvement in today’s mayhem. Burke is patient when he needs to be (looks like LA and Columbus jumped in with both feet a little quicker than Burke did), and holds a firm line, but you know the most competitive man in hockey is hating this right now. Has today’s insanity woke a sleeping bear? Wouldn’t be surprised at all to see his attention shift Paul Stastny’s way.