By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
Last week I looked at Paul Holmgren’s biggest mistakes during his time as the Flyers GM. So it’s only right that this week I look on the flip side and analyze his successful moves, because there were quite a few.
Number 5- Signing Briere
After an atrocious 2006-07 season where the Flyers finished dead last in the league, Holmgren was determined to not let it happen again. One of many of his moves was signing free agent Danny Briere to an eight-year $52 Million contract. The move would pay off immediately as Briere would post a 31-goal, 72-point campaign during the 2007-08 season. Even though he was eventually bought out due to injuries piling up, he was the offensive spark the team needed.
Number 4- Chris Pronger
The hunt for a number one defenseman seemed like it finally came to a close in June of 2009 after the Flyers made a blockbuster trade for Chris Pronger. In hindsight, this trade looks even better considering neither of the first round picks the Flyers gave up for him became impact players in the NHL. While the massive contract Pronger would sign may not have been the smartest move, It was the addition of the towering defenseman that helped lead the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010.
Number 3- Steve Mason
While fan opinions on Mason are split, it’s hard to argue against the fact that he is one of the top goalies in franchise history. Once it was clear the Bryzgalov experiment was a failure, the Flyers needed a new plan. Toward the end of the 2013 season the Flyers would trade Michael Leighton and a 2015 third round pick to Columbus for flailing goaltender Steve Mason. With expectations low, Mason blew everyone away immediately stealing the starting reins from Bryzgalov. He would sign a one-year extension for the 2013-14 season before signing a three-year $12.3 deal. On a cheap contract Mason would carry the team on his back for years before an ugly split from the team after the 2017 season.
Number 2- Acquiring Timonen and Hartnell
Easily one of the best trades in franchise history, The Flyers traded a first round pick to Nashville for Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell. Both players would go on to be cornerstones for the Flyers for seven years. Hartnell would record 326 points in 517 games as a Flyer, and Timonen would become an asset, spending 519 games patrolling the Flyers blueline.
Number 1- The Mike Richards, Jeff Carter Trades
If I were to tell you the Flyers would trade their two young to stars and somehow they’d win both deals, would you believe it? Well that’s exactly what happened on June 23, 2011. Carter was shipped to Columbus for Voracek, Couturier, and Cousins, while Richards was sent to LA for Brayden Schenn, Simmonds, and Devin Shore. Four of the six of those players played a huge role for the Flyers for years, while Voracek, Couturier, and Simmonds are still pillars on the Flyers current team.
Acquiring Coburn– Alexei Zhitnik played all of 31 games for the Flyers before being dealt to the Thrashers for Braydon Coburn. Considered one of the biggest lopsided trades in modern NHL history, Coburn would become of the Flyers top defenseman for almost a decade, while Zhitnik was later bought-out by Atlanta.
Martin Biron Trade– One of the more low-key trades during Holmgren’s tenure, it was also one of the more important. The Flyers traded a 2007 second round pick to Buffalo for Martin Biron on February 27, 2007. Biron would lead the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008.
Matt Carle Trade– Another low-key trade that paid off, Carle was brought in and formed strong pairs first with Coburn and later with Pronger. The best part of the trade was they moved Steve Downie and Steve Eminger, whom the Flyers acquired in a notoriously terrible trade earlier in the year. Even though they would lose Carle to free agency thanks to Holmgren, the trade that brought him in was brilliant.
Acquiring Mark Streit– The Islanders intended on moving on from Streit after the 2013 season, so the Flyers swooped in and acquired his rights in exchange for AHLer Shane Harper and a fourth round pick (Devon Toews). Streit would take the reins as the teams veteran defenseman after Kimmo Timonen was traded to Chicago.
photo credit: zimbio.com