The early returns are in on the Flyers' blockbuster trades that sent Mike Richards to Los Angeles and Jeff Carter to Columbus: All sides are happy.
Wayne Simmonds, acquired in the Richards deal, plays with an edge - something the Flyers dearly lacked in last season's playoff loss to Boston - and may be the team's fastest player. The 23-year-old winger scored a goal, won a fight against David Clarkson, and delivered three hits as the Flyers defeated New Jersey on Saturday, 3-0, and improved to 2-0 for just the 14th time in franchise history.
Simmonds has been given more responsibility than he had with the Kings. He has played on a top line with Danny Briere and Jakub Voracek and has keyed the power play.
"It's certainly different than the role I've had in the past," said Simmonds, who is coming off a somewhat-disappointing, 14-goal, 30-point season. "I said before training camp - and even during training camp - that I'm just going to try my best to help the team win, and I think I've done a pretty good job to start the season, and I'm going to just try to continue that."
In the preseason, Simmonds and teammate Jaromir Jagr were among the players who led the NHL with four goals apiece. Simmonds, now in his fourth year, has carried that success into the season.
"He's a young player, and I think sometimes as you get older, you develop into roles," coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's a good skater, really strong on pucks, really strong on battles. He's a power forward. I think when players come in at 18, 19, 20 years old, they're trying to figure out how to make their game, and maybe their roles aren't as easily identified. But after you've been in the league for three or four years, you really start to develop physically and experience-wise, and he's one of those guys.
"This could set up for him to be a real contributing factor, and even Jake [Voracek], the same thing. It's a good time to get players when they have three years under their belt."
Brayden Schenn, also acquired in the Richards deal, had two assists in his debut with the AHL Phantoms on Saturday. He figures to be recalled if a forward is injured - or if the Flyers decide to send impressive rookie center Sean Couturier back to juniors after he plays nine games.
Couturier, 18, was drafted in June with the eighth overall pick, which was acquired from Columbus in the Carter trade. He has been a solid two-way contributor in the first two games, especially on a penalty-killing unit that is 9 for 10.
Voracek, a winger who was another player the Flyers received in the Carter deal, scored the winning goal in the season-opening, 2-1 victory in Boston and has played two strong games.
Meanwhile, Richards (goal and assist in the opener) and Carter (three assists in two games) have played well. The Flyers host Richards and the Kings on Saturday. Before that, they face Vancouver in their home opener Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
All told, the Flyers have nine new players in their lineup, so it's a bit surprising they have meshed so well this quickly.
"We had a great training camp; guys worked very hard, and a lot of the line combinations you're seeing here were either in practice or in games," said captain Chris Pronger, who had an assist in each win. "We're still kind of going through the feeling-out process, knowing where guys are going to be, knowing where guys like the puck. Not thinking about the system - just read and react. But that'll come as we continue to go down the road."
Breakaways. Blair Betts, whom Montreal claimed off waivers Wednesday, was returned to the Flyers by the NHL because he didn't pass the Canadiens' physical. In order to have cap space - they have about $500,000 - Ian Laperriere was placed on the long-term injured reserve list. Betts puts the Flyers at the 50-contract maximum. Couturier's contract would count toward the maximum - and could force a roster move - if he plays in his 11th game.