Flyers Rewind: 1990, Chris Simon, and “The Next One”

USATSI_2139367_168382939_lowres
Flyers

Selected in the second round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, Chris Simon’s greatest claim as a Philadelphia Flyer is being a cog in the gear that executed a trade for Eric Lindros. When a team drafts a player, the idea is that they will be a direct asset to the team’s performance. It isn’t that they will be an indirect asset to the team by being traded away for another piece. At one point in his career, Simon did find a temporary groove. He never played a moment on the ice for the Flyers.

Let’s not get anything twisted about Chris Simon, he didn’t have an awful career. He’s a 1996 Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avalanche. The following season, he was traded to the Washington Capitals. On the Capitals, he would have his best NHL season in the 1999-2000 NHL season, finishing sixth in the NHL All-Star voting. Before finishing his NHL career in 2008, Simon put together another solid performance in 2006-2007 with the New York Islanders.

What makes him a bust with the Philadelphia Flyers is the fact that he never was placed in a lineup. In the second round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, there were better players available for the Flyers to select to play wing. First, let’s address what he is known for in Philadelphia, which is being a part of the trade for Eric Lindros.

Trading for Eric Lindros

Eric Lindros had the hype from the very beginning that matched his talent on the ice. This trade between the Philadelphia Flyers to the Quebec Nordiques dubbed Lindros “The Next One,” which is a tongue-in-cheek comparison to Wayne Gretzky. Upfront, Lindros made it known that he wouldn’t play for the Nordiques if he was selected first overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. Quebec still made the pick and Lindros was going to stay in the OHL with the Oshawa Generals. He was such a sought after superstar, the Flyers traded the lot for him in 1992.

From the Philadelphia Flyers, the Quebec Nordiques received Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Chris Simon, two first-round picks, and $15mil. In hindsight, and I’ll die on this hill, the Nordiques made out like gangbusters even though the Flyers got their “franchise player.” Mike Ricci, Philadelphia’s first-round pick in 1990, is another expendable early 1990 NHL Entry Draft selection that served as a bridge to Lindros. At large, the players that were traded to Quebec served as the core that brought the Colorado Avalanche their Stanley Cup in 1996. Quite frankly, that could have been the Flyers without Lindros.

Yes, I am considering that the alternate reality where this trade for Eric Lindros never happened means that the Philadelphia Flyers likely win a Stanley Cup in the 1990s. Things I clearly understand about Lindros is that he is an NHL Hall of Famer, a two-time NHL All-Star, a recipient of the Hart Memorial Trophy, and a Ted Lindsay Award winner. Standing alone, Peter Forsberg had the better career, which the Flyers saw a late glimpse of in the 2005-2006 season. Ron Hextall found his way back to Philadelphia, but Steve Duchesne was another player not worth losing alongside Forsberg. If the Flyers hung on to Duchesne, Forsberg, and Hextall, they would have had a core of players that likely would have magnified the best efforts of Mike Ricci and Chris Simon.

The trade for Eric Lindros was unnecessary. It’s hard to understand the Philadelphia Flyers franchise without Lindros, but it’s harder to accept that they gave away all those extra assets, including Peter Forsberg. The only player in that trade that was worth the move was Kerry Huffman. If that never happens, the Flyers are $15mil richer and have those two first-round picks at their disposal. After all, those two picks could have been Saku Koivu and Todd Bertuzzi.

Another Option in 1990

Taking this all back to the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, let’s put ourselves in the Philadelphia Flyers war room. At this time, the Flyers don’t have an agenda to use a draft pick as trade stock for a future “franchise player.” It’s now the second round and this is where Philadelphia selects Chris Simon. The first two selections by the Flyers in this particular draft were atrocious when you see where the front office missed. With the 25th overall pick in 1990, Philadelphia could have selected Doug Weight.

Just imagine this 1990 Philadelphia Flyers lineup featuring Rick Tocchet, Murray Craven, Pelle Eklund, Ron Sutter, Scott Mellanby, and Doug Weight. The Flyers simply don’t finish fifth in the former NHL Patrick Division. Philadelphia would be on the upswing of momentum with their talent and front office starting in 1990 with this change in the second round. Just think if, in the first round, the Flyers selected Jaromir Jagr, Keith Tkachuk, or Martin Brodeur instead of Mike Ricci. I’ll touch on Ricci at a later date.

It’s important to note that Doug Weight was a center, which is what the Philadelphia Flyers used Chris Simon as trade bait for along with a package of assets. It’s a no brainer that if the Flyers select Weight instead of Simon, Philadelphia could’ve likely won multiple Stanley Cups in the 1990s with a lineup featuring Peter Forsberg too. Next year, the 1991-1992 season, we’re talking a Flyers lineup that could have had Forsberg, Weight, Rod Brind’Amour, and Mark Recchi. I’ll take that matinee every time.

Mandatory Credit – © Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

More from our Sister Sites