MINNEAPOLIS — The NHL draft is always a big day for deals around the league, but this year the Flyers beat the rush and made a major splash the day before any picks were made in Minnesota.
Philadelphia underwent a major overhaul as captain Mike Richards was traded to Los Angeles for top prospect Brayden Schenn, forward Wayne Simmonds and a second-round pick. The Flyers then sent star forward Jeff Carter to Columbus for the eighth overall pick in Friday's draft, a third-round selection and veteran defenseman Jakub Voracek.
The deals were the talk of the hockey world, and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli weighed in on the changing landscape in the Eastern Conference when asked about the trades at his pre-draft news conference.
"Well, no," Chiarelli said when asked if he expected the Flyers to make such bold moves. "But, you know, I respect [Flyers GM] Paul Holmgren as a manager, and when they shake things up, they shake things up."
The Flyers' shakeup continued with the signing of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a reported nine-year, $51-million deal. That contract set in motion the other deals as the Flyers were facing a cap crunch even with next year's ceiling being raised to $64.3 million.
"I know that they acquired Bryzgalov, so you knew something was coming," Chiarelli said. "With the cap situation, to sign Bryzgalov you had to shed some money, so you knew something was coming and it came in a big way."
The moves could impact the Bruins more directly than just what it does to Philadelphia as a rival in the conference. With the trades, the Flyers now hold the pick just ahead of Boston in the first round, with the Bruins selecting ninth with the final pick from the Phil Kessel trade to Toronto.
"Actually, I did have a discussion about that, just how it would impact [the Bruins' pick]," Chiarelli said. "Historically they've drafted quite well in Philly, so maybe if we thought that we would have had a player drop in our lap, they may take that player, but you know that's something that I can't really control right now."
Last year it was Chiarelli making the bold moves just before the draft, as he traded Dennis Wideman and a first-round pick to Florida for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell and also locked up a number of his own key free agents by re-signing Dennis Seidenberg, Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk.
"I didn't want to get caught up in sort of the flurry of the draft," Chiarelli said. "With Dennis it was just waiting for his wrist to be healthy, we had basically a deal on principle we just had to get the sign off from the doctor. With the whole Horton-Campbell deal, you know what both sides just wanted to get it done. And I didn't want drag them through the draft because things get muddy and picks start flying around and you lose your deal. So that's why we tried to get it all done before, and it's probably why, I don't know if that's why Paul [Holmgren] wanted to do it in Philly but I'm sure that had something to do with it."
Things have been much quieter this season. Michael Ryder and Tomas Kaberle are the only major unrestricted free agents the Bruins have, and there's been little activity on that front to this point.
"I've not spoken with Rydes' agent and I had a meeting with Tomas’ agent [Thursday]," Chiarelli said. "That's about all I'll be able to tell you."
The Bruins also have a key restricted free agent in playoff hero Brad Marchand, but Chiarelli isn't overly concerned with another club trying to swoop in with an offer sheet.
"We've been down that road with Kess [Phil Kessel] and it's a reality now," Chiarelli said. "But it's of no concern to me. We're going to do whatever it takes to match our RFAs and we've got the one [in Marchand]. … It’s a risk and you have to deal with it."
And it's certainly less risky than the major moves the Flyers made on Thursday.