Back when Flyers centers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were dealt to Los Angeles, it was to clear an overabundance at the center position to bring in true, talented wingers.
Those trades hauled in two very important wingers in Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, setting the stage towards finding legitimate, true wingers.
While there may not be a significant amount of transition from last year to this year in terms of wingers, losing veteran returners Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble to free agency opened two spots for the Flyers' youth to earn.
Many of the incumbent wingers will be wearing orange and black for the next several seasons.
(Photo: Flyers RW Jakub Voracek has a lot to smile about heading into this season, including being a top-line winger on a high-scoring team. Photo by John Russo/The Checking Line)
The Jeff Carter trade is the gift that keeps on giving.
Everyone remembers where they were when the trade happened, and know all too well the details of that trade. Jakub Voracek and a pair of draft picks were traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to Philadelphia for the talented center.
The 2011 first round pick, 8th overall, turned into center Sean Couturier, who made a major impact in his first two seasons. The less heralded third round pick (63rd overall) turned out to be another center by the name of Nick Cousins, who will be looking to make an impact in the near future as well.
The man who once wore a #4 on his sweater will have to add a zero, as the retired Barry Ashbee holds permanent claim to that number.
Though Vincent Lecavalier will have to add a zero to his jersey, leading him to don a #40 jersey with the Flyers, Philadelphia did not get a zero as they landed the top free agent of the offseason. After inking a five-year, $22.5 million contract to play for the Flyers, the 33-year-old Lecavalier will bring the perfect combination of scoring and a veteran presence to a young Flyers team seeking a direction.
“I’m really excited," Lecavalier said. "Obviously everything came pretty quickly. I was part of an organization for 14 years so it was a tough few days. But after I talked to [head coach Peter Laviolette] and [general manager Paul Holmgren], I really liked what they have to say and where the organization is going. So that made my decision a lot easier.”
Lecavalier was bought-out by the Tampa Bay Lightning, a shock to the NHL. His buyout of $30 million over 14 years broke an NHL record that Ilya Bryzgalov held for only a few hours.
The Flyers came to a crossroads two offseasons ago.
They could have gone in one or two directions. One side of the path had them rebuilding the team, pushing a youth movement that would make them a dangerous contender in a couple years. The other path was the same win-now mentality the Flyers have had for the last two decades, resulting in a couple Stanley Cup berths and a handful of Conference Finals appearances.
Unfortunately, general manager Paul Holmgren tried to travel down both paths at once and wound up falling flat on his face this season.
(Photo: Wayne Simmonds (front) and Sean Couturier (back) were both a part of the youth movement. Photo by John Russo/The Checking Line)
The storyline couldn't have been drawn up any more perfect for Flyers prospect Jason Akeson.
Playing in his home town, Akeson made his NHL debut in the final game of the 2013 season, a 2-1 win for the Flyers against the Ottawa Senators. What made the moment even more sweet for Akeson was the fact he scored his first NHL goal in that game as well.
“Just playing in an NHL game was something special; something I’ll always remember,” Akeson said. “And to score a goal, it makes it that much more special.”
Just three minutes and 46 seconds into the game, Akeson found the back of the net, scoring the game's first goal. It was just the second shift of his NHL career.
(Photo: Jake Akeson holds up his 1st NHL goal puck. Photo courtesy of the Flyers Facebook/Twitter page)
Jakub Voracek needed to give the team one last reminder why they chose him as their MVP of the 2013 season.
At the halfway point of the third period, Voracek beat Senators goalie Craig Anderson to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead and eventual win in Ottawa. It was the final game of the season in which they ended on a four-game winning streak.
The goal, combined with one last impressive effort from goalie Steve Mason, set up the victory, giving the Flyers some joy heading into a playoff-less off season.