It is hard to argue that there is a better circumstance to find yourself in then benefitting from a player during his tenure with your franchise and then trading him for a piece or pieces that will play a role in your team’s future success. That is what happened when the Philadelphia Flyers decided to part ways with their blueliner, Braydon Coburn, in March of 2015.
The orange and black initially established a relationship with Coburn when they acquired him from the Atlanta Thrashers for Alexei Zhitnik, a lopsided deal to say the least. Coburn became one of the top defensemen on the Flyers while Zhitnik never provided Atlanta with any production, leading to a buy-out.
Coburn’s first full season with Philadelphia was in 2007-08 where he not only held his own defensively but also produced offensively with 36 points. He played a vital role in the team’s deep playoff run; however, he was eventually sidelined with an eye injury in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. A deflected puck struck Coburn above his eye resulting in a gash that required 50 stitches to close. Unfortunately, that was it for him in the playoffs, and the Flyers run would end shortly after.
The offensive production of the Saskatchewan native would never reach again reach the numbers posted in 2007-08, though he came close the following year. However, Coburn wasn’t in the lineup for his offense. He was usually quite reliable in his zone, an important trait we wish more current Flyers defenseman had.
In July of 2010, Philadelphia and Coburn agreed to a two-year contract extension. This would eventually lead to a four-year, $18 million extension in November of 2011. The relationship between Coburn and the Flyers would last until March 2, 2015. Philadelphia was not making the postseason and needed to shed some salary and steer their sights to the future. The Flyers agreed to send the veteran defenseman to the Lightning in exchange for Radko Gudas and a first and third-round draft pick in the 2015 draft.
The Flyers would flip Tampa Bay’s first-round pick and a second-round pick acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Toronto Maple Leafs for what was formerly the first round selection of the Nashville Predators. Philadelphia would then use that pick to draft Travis Konecny, a decision that is turning out quite well for the franchise. As for the third-rounder, the orange and black would pick up Slovakian netminder Matej Tomek. Tomek is still developing and is currently tending goal for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL.
Was Coburn a valuable member of the Philadelphia Flyers organization? He most certainly was. However, as time moved along, the needs of the franchise changed. They were headed towards rebuild mode, and Coburn just did not fit in with the plan. The orange and black were able to receive a nice return for him and that is all you can ask for. Yes, opinions of Gudas change with every game but Konecny has the potential to be a star for this team. At the end of the day, the Coburn trade worked out well for both parties involved.