Philadelphia Flyers’ Forgotten Ones
The Philadelphia Flyers have quite a list of household names. Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Eric Lindros, Mark Howe, and Bernie Parent are just some of the names that have donned the Flyer sweater and still represent the club to this day. However, there have been other players throughout the franchise’s existence who had better careers while they were elsewhere. Their Flyer tenures are not as memorable as what they did while in other parts of the league. These are names that might have been forgotten in regards to representing Philadelphia hockey.
Vincent Lecavalier will always be remembered as a cornerstone piece who helped build the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise into a championship-caliber team, and was one of the biggest fan favorites in the history of that organization. Before there were Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who have been quite the scoring duo, there was Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.
Lecavalier is one of the best Lightning players statistically and was a significant contributor to the organization winning their first Stanley Cup in 2004. However, after his long tenure with the Bolts was over, Lecavalier made his way over to the Flyers. He was bought out by Tampa, and signed by Philadelphia during free agency.
Vincent made a solid impact during his first year with the Orange and Black, notching 20 goals and helping the team make the 2014 playoffs. However, his production started to decline after that, and age was becoming more of a factor for the former first overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft. He was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Kings, where he finished the 2015-16 season before retiring.
His regular-season stats while in Philadelphia are as follows:
- 2013-14: 20 goals and 17 assists in 69 games
- 2014-15: 8 goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 57 games
- 2015-16: 1 assist in 7 games
He finished his career playing in 1,212 games, racking up 421 goals and 528 assists for 949 points. Lecavalier was a superb talent, but he went to the Flyers in the beginning of the tail end of his playing career.
Dainius Zubrus played in a few different places during his time as a pro hockey player, but Philadelphia is where his journey began. He was a first-round pick, drafted by the Flyers in 1996. Due to certain regulations in regards to the AHL and the junior leagues at the time, Zubrus joined Philadelphia right away as an 18-year-old. This was despite the fact that it was believed he needed more time to develop before having made that leap.
Sometimes playing younger guys right off the bat can be an issue, and that looked to be the case when it came to Zubrus in Philadelphia. He posted a decent stat line with 8 goals and 13 assists during his rookie campaign of 68 games. His production did not grow enough in the span of time that the Flyers wanted though over the first couple years, and the struggle was in full force during the 1998-99 season.
Flyers management felt it was best to move on, and Dainius was traded to the Montreal Canadiens. The full deal was Zubrus with a second and sixth-round draft pick to the Canadiens for winger Mark Recchi, who had been with the Flyers before. Zubrus had posted the following while with Philadelphia:
- 1996-97: 8 goals and 13 assists for 21 points in 68 games
- 1997-98: 8 goals and 25 assists for 33 points in 69 games
- 1998-99: 3 goals and 5 assists in 63 games
Zubrus went on to play with Montreal, the Washington Capitals, the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, and the San Jose Sharks. He suited up in 1,293 games, posting 228 goals and 363 assists for 591 points. I think if the rules had been different, and Zubrus was able to get more time to develop his game in a junior league or the AHL, his career with the Flyers would have panned out better, and maybe he never would’ve been traded. Zubrus had a pretty good career overall anyway, but he had some of his finest moments with other NHL clubs than with Philadelphia specifically.
The Flyers acquired Marty Biron from the Sabres during the 2006-07 season. He was backing up Ryan Miller at the time, and the Sabres dealt him to Philadelphia in order for him to get a role as a starting goalie. Not too long after the trade, he was signed to a short-term contract extension.
Biron did a pretty stellar job between the pipes while he was in Philadelphia. He helped boost the club to making the playoffs both in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. In fact, the Flyers went to the Eastern Conference Final in 2008, with Biron carrying his end for the team. They were able to beat Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals and Alex Kovalev and the Montreal Canadiens, but fell to Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His stats for both postseason runs are below:
- 2007-08: 9-8 record, 2.98 GAA, .904 SV%, and 1 shutout in 17 games
- 2008-09: 2-4 record, 2.56 GAA, .919 SV%, and 1 shutout in 6 games
Sometimes teams decide to make the decision to move on. It is a tough part of the business, but the reality. The Flyers had moved on from Biron in the summer of 2009. They brought goalies Ray Emery and Brian Boucher into the fold, leaving no room for Marty to go. As a result, he went to Philadelphia’s division rival New York Islanders.
Biron was a goalie who got the job done, and provided more support to the defenders in front of him. I think him not returning to the franchise was just a matter of management at the time thinking they could upgrade the position even more than they had by adding Marty in the first place. It was nothing against Biron in particular; they liked what Emery and Boucher (making his return to the club) brought more. This was right before Michael Leighton hopped onto the scene as well for that 2010 postseason run.
Biron left the Islanders after one year and played four more seasons with the New York Rangers before retiring in late 2013. He is currently a hockey analyst with the Sabres.
Dennis Seidenberg, like a few names on this list, was drafted by the Flyers. In Dennis’ case, he was a sixth-round pick in 2001. He joined the club having spent a couple of pro seasons in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) representing Adler Mannheim, a program that has some notable alumni. A couple of examples are former Sabres winger Jochen Hecht and former Sharks center Marcel Goc, among others.
Seidenberg never really became a consistent blueliner on the main roster. His Flyer career saw him constantly moving between playing in the NHL and being sent down to the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms over the few seasons he was there. There were bumps along the way in his development over the course of these years.
He was dealt midseason in 2005-06 to the then-Phoenix Coyotes. The official trade was Seidenberg for forward Petr Nedved, while the two organizations also swapped fourth-round picks in the 2006 Draft. While he was a Flyer, Seidenberg accumulated the following totals:
- 2002-03: 4 goals and 9 assists for 13 points in 58 games
- 2003-04: 0 points in 5 games
- 2005-06: 2 goals and 5 assists in 29 games
Seidenberg’s career took off after he left. He joined the Carolina Hurricanes, and broke out statistically. Then he went to the Boston Bruins, where he spent most of his career, and played on a stacked defense that won the Stanley Cup in 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks.
Seidenberg finished his career with the Islanders before retiring in the fall of 2019. His regular-season career totals were 44 goals and 207 assists for 251 points in 859 games.
Vinny Prospal, unlike other names on this list, wound up playing in two stints with the Flyers organization. He was a homegrown talent, being selected by the franchise in the 1993 draft. The first time he laced up the skates for the City of Brotherly Love was during the 1996-97 campaign. He spent the majority of the hockey year down with the AHL affiliate Phantoms, where he was showing a lot of promise (he had tallied 32 goals and 63 assists for 95 points in 63 games).
Despite the high potential, Prospal only played in parts of two seasons during his first Flyer tenure. He was shipped off to the Ottawa Senators in the middle of the 1997-98 season in a package that landed former first overall pick Alexandre Daigle in Philadelphia.
Related: Flyers Showdown – Lindros vs. Clarke
Fast forward a decade, and Prospal made his triumphant return after Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren wanted to add another solid talent to the offensive arsenal. He was traded to Philadelphia by Tampa Bay in exchange for defenseman Alexandre Picard and a second-round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft.
Prospal made his presence felt right away, connecting with other significant names on the roster such as Danny Briere. The duo especially clicked during the playoffs later that same season. Prospal mounted up the points on that run, scoring three goals and 10 assists in 17 contests.
Prospal’s second Flyer tenure ended sooner than the first, as he made his way back to the Lightning the following season. His stats during his days in Philadelphia are below:
- 1996-97: 5 goals and 10 assists in 18 games
- 1997-98: 5 goals and 13 assists in 41 games
- 2007-08: 4 goals and 10 assists in 18 games
His totals as a Flyer are 14 goals and 33 assists for 47 points in 77 games. Other teams he suited up for are the Senators, Lightning, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers, and Columbus Blue Jackets. He finished his overall career with 255 goals and 510 assists for 765 points in 1,108 games. Overall, Prospal was a really talented forward in his career, who had a couple of short stints in Philadelphia.
Nikolay Zherdev will be most remembered from his days as a Blue Jacket. He had spent four seasons in Columbus, before spending a year with the Rangers after that. He had a lot of talent, and continually improved his stats each year and became a solid weapon. These were his numbers while playing in Columbus:
- 2003-04: 13 goals and 21 assists in 57 games
- 2005-06: 27 goals and 27 assists for 54 points in 73 games
- 2006-07: 10 goals and 22 assists in 71 games
- 2007-08: 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points in 82 games
His year with the Rangers also saw him contribute substantially, tallying 23 goals and 35 assists for 58 points during the 2008-09 campaign. Zherdev then took a break from the NHL for a year, inking a contract with Atlant Moscow Oblast of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Once his year in the KHL was up, Nikolay wanted another shot at playing on an NHL roster. What turned into his last stop in the league (as this article is being written) was with the Flyers during the 2010-11 hockey year. There was a lot of promise adding Nikolay based on his contributions on other rosters. However, it did not pan out in Philadelphia.
Zherdev accrued 16 goals and 6 assists for 22 points in 56 games, a significant decline from prior years. Zherdev’s agent requested that the winger be waived, and he was. He played in the 2011 playoffs for Philadelphia, netting a goal and two assists in eight games, but once that season was over the two sides went their separate ways. Zherdev has not appeared in the NHL since. He has spent time in the KHL with other teams, such as with the Severstal Cherepovets, Dynamo Moscow, and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.
When it came down to it, the Flyers and Zherdev just did not end up being a good fit together. Some players do not work out in various places, even with the talent they have. It was a mismatch between the team and player. It is something that happens in sports constantly. Zherdev was a good player during his time overall in the NHL, it just didn’t work out in Philadelphia.
Before Patrick Sharp became the dominant force that he was in helping the Chicago Blackhawks win three Stanley Cups in a span of six years, he started off his career with the Orange and Black. Sharp was a third-round pick in the 2001 NHL Draft and spent parts of three seasons up and down between the Flyers and the Phantoms. During the infamous 2004-05 NHL lockout, Sharp was tremendous in helping the Phantoms capture the Calder Cup, the AHL’s version of the Stanley Cup.
Sharp posted the following while with the Flyers:
- 2002-03: 0 points in 3 games
- 2003-04: 5 goals and 2 assists in 41 games
- 2005-06: 5 goals and 3 assists in 22 games
Sharp was then traded during the 2005-06 season to the Blackhawks along with forward Eric Meloche, with the Flyers receiving forward Matt Ellison and a third-round pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. He became a significant piece to the puzzle for the uprise of Chicago’s offense and their change into a championship-caliber team. It was a case of bad luck for the Flyers, as Ellison did not stay in Philadelphia, or the NHL itself, much longer. He headed overseas and played for various KHL teams.
Sharp became a 30-goal scorer for multiple years with the Blackhawks, and was a solid weapon alongside other point producers in Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa among others as they built a dynasty during the 2010s.
As painful as this trade was, all teams make them. Late bloomers happen in pro sports, and sometimes organizations get burned by transactions they make. Sharp was one of those mistakes when it comes to the Flyers. It would’ve been cool to see how Sharp would have fared had he not left, but history cannot be rewritten. With every bad move, there is one that replaces it, and the organization has made their own fair share of good moves and steals.
Once a Flyer, Always a Flyer
Many interesting players have crossed paths with the Flyers organization. Some already had made their marks on prior teams they played on, while others impacted the game once they left the Orange and Black. Significant names may be remembered for what they did for other clubs than what they did in Philadelphia, and some players can get lost in the shuffle of memory. These are just some of the names of many others who have suited up for Philadelphia who are not remembered from their times with the club. Their names though will always be etched in the history of this team.
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