The Philadelphia Flyers sent shock waves through the hockey world with barely 24 hours left until the 2011 NHL Draft, when they sent star forward Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for the eighth overall selection. Columbus also sent their third round selection and forward Jacub Voracek.
The Flyers were not content, however, as within the hour they also dealt captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for their second round selection in this year's draft and forwards Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
As soon as Philadelphia traded for the negotiating rights of Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, it was blatantly obvious they would have to dump some hefty contracts in order to sign the 31-year-old goalie. With Richards and Carter gone -- a combined $102 million over 10 years in contracts -- they finally had the cap space available, signing Bryzgalov to a nine year, $51 million deal.
It's a very unusual series of trades from a free agency standpoint, but it also dramatically changes the landscape of this year's draft. With the loss of two top forwards, the Flyers are almost certainly drafting a top forward this year. Gabriel Landeskog is unlikely to fall that far, but Swedish forward Mika Zibanejad makes a great fit at eighth overall. With the Boston Bruins essentially linked to defenseman Ryan Murphy at ninth overall, and the New York Islanders heavily connected to defenseman Dougie Hamilton with the fifth pick, it's becoming more and more likely that forwards like Ryan Strome or Sean Couturier slide all the way out of the top ten selections. The Colorado Avalanche would happily grab one of those two players at #11.