Besides getting Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Jake Voracek _ and Sean Couturier with one of three draft picks they received by trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in 2011 _ there was another reason the Flyers made the stunning moves: They wanted to make center Claude Giroux the team’s centerpiece.
Given more ice team and more responsibility, Giroux has flourished in that role.
Entering Monday’s game against Richards, Carter and the visiting Los Angeles Kings, Giroux is fourth in the NHL with 74 points. He established a career high in points (93) and goals (28) the season after Richards and Carter were traded.
Giroux was asked if he felt there was more of an onus put on him after the deals were made.
“I didn’t think so until I heard you guys talk and write, and it put a little more pressure on me,” he said with a smile after the morning skate Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. “But it’s good, it’s good pressure; it’s responsibility that a hockey player wants.”
Carter will play at the Wells Fargo Center Monday for the first time since he was dealt to Columbus. He had a broken foot when the Blue Jackets played in Philadelphia during his partial season with the team, and he wasn’t with the Kings yet when they played here.
“It’s exciting,” Carter, minus his two front teeth from getting hit with a stick last season, said of his return. “We had six good years here; I obviously loved playing here and had a lot of fun. Just looking forward to getting out there tonight.”
Carter, who leads the Kings with 24 goals, said he didn’t expect a warm greeting from fans Monday.
“It seems like everybody that goes back to play against their old team gets booed, so that’s just the way it is,” he said. “It doesn’t really bother me; you just go out and play the game.”
Carter was upset when the Flyers traded him to Columbus, but is happy in Los Angeles.
"It’s worked out pretty well for us _ a Stanley Cup, playing in L.A. It’s a pretty good set up,” he said.
"Time heals all," said Richards, who has just 10 goals and was on the Kings’ fourth line Saturday.
Quotable. Flyers winger Scott Hartnell asked to evaluate the Carter and Richards trades: "You're never going to replace guys like Richie and Carts and what they bring on the ice...but you look at the young guys we got _ four top guys to replace two top guys. Some were probably wondering what Homer was doing a couple years ago, but it's turned out pretty good for us."
Breakaways. Backup goalie Ray Emery (2.96 GAA, .899 ) will face the Kings' Jonathan Quick (2.01, .917) as the Flyers try to extend their five-game winning streak. Flyers coach Craig Berube said he wanted to keep Emery sharp and gvie sizzling Steve Mason a rest. Mason, who blanked the Kings on Feb. 1 in L.A., 2-0, has a 4-0 record, a 1.50 GAA and .948 save percentage in his last four starts.....Winger Steve Downie will miss the game with an upper-body injury, and Tye McGinn will be in the lineup.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.