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Flyers captain Mike Richards traded to Kings in pre-draft blockbuster

Los Angeles media, meet your new headache. Philadelphia Flyers fans, enjoy your heart transplant.

According to multiple sources (and first reported by TSN), the Flyers acquired blue-chip forward Brayden Schenn(notes) and power forward Wayne Simmonds(notes) (as well as a second-round pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft) for Mike Richards(notes), their captain who is signed through 2020 with a $5.75 million cap hit.

The message is now clear from Flyers management: That the obstacles preventing this team from winning its first Stanley Cup since 1975 are larger than just the body between the goaltending pipes.

Trading Jeff Carter(notes) (and his contact that runs through 2022) to the Columbus Blue Jackets was seen as a financial move; when coupled with Thursday's blockbuster deal that sent Richards to the Los Angeles Kings, it has to be seen as a chemistry test that these guys failed in the eyes of Ed Snider and GM Paul Holmgren.

Now do the Flyers have room for Ilya Bryzgalov(notes)?

For the Kings, Richards won't face the same scrutiny he did in Philadelphia. He's boundlessly talented, and one of the best two-way forwards in hockey.  The Kopitar/Richards duo will be as good as any in the West up the middle. It's a bold move, and perhaps confirmation that GM Dean Lombardi couldn't land Brad Richards(notes) this summer.

From Rich Hammond:

This is certainly one of the more fascinating deals done by the Kings in years. In comes Mike Richards, a 26-year-old center who has already reached the 30-goal mark twice in six NHL seasons. Out goes Brayden Schenn, arguably the Kings' top prospect and the player the Kings had resisted trading despite countless offers that basically started the day he was drafted, as well as Wayne Simmonds, a player assumed to have great potential who took something of a step backward last season. Privately, the Kings were concerned that Simmonds, due to be an unrestricted free agent, might draw an offer sheet if he was not re-signed by July 1.

For the Flyers, one of the most dramatic transformations of a dressing room in recent NHL history. Or at least since the Flyers traded for Chris Pronger(notes), which was another bombshell dropped at the NHL draft.

And why did they acquire Pronger? Because of the locker room issues caused by players like Carter and Richards.

This is Pronger's team now, as you assume he'll get the captaincy that probably should have been his to begin with. Whether this is a good move or a bad move rests with GM Paul Holmgren, who has declared Pronger the winner in the locker room war of egos between himself and Richards.

This is now the team of Danny Briere(notes) and Claude Giroux(notes), who are now going to have to provide offensive and defensive leadership at forward to fill the voids left by Carter and Richards.

With the removal of two players and the addition of three (and plus Bryzgalov), this is now a different Flyers team that it was on Thursday morning. But is a better one?

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