While there is no doubt that the Philadelphia Flyers received great value in return for trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, the moves left a lot of people scratching their heads. These are two elite forwards under contract for a reasonable cap hit (albeit they have a combined 20 years left on their deals) on players entering the prime of their playing careers. One of the objectives was clearing room to sign goaltender Illya Bryzgalov to a new 9 year $51 million dollar contract, but it is hard to imagine Philly being a better team over the next 2 years given what was exchanged. They will be better for it 3-5 years hence, but this has been a Stanley Cup contender the past 2 seasons, winning 4 playoff series (over the same span the high powered Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have each won 1 series).
In addition to a number of high draft picks, Philly gets Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and blue chipper Brayden Schenn. Voracek is a restricted free agent that should command $2.5 - $3.2 million per season. The 7th overall pick in 2007 is a quality young player that came in just under 50 PTS, is 22 years old, and will continue to improve for the next 6 years. Simmonds is also a free agent, but with less offensive production should come at a cheaper price. I'd put him at $1.7 million and I would be hesitant to go above $2m. The other forwards in his age, production, and experience range are all under $2m. The draft picks will bring a return in 3-6 years, Schenn is 5 years behind Richards, and Voracek is 3 years behind Carter.
Philly might be better off for this trade in a few years when the draft picks start providing a return, but in the meantime they have set their timeline back 3 years. If they are able to add Brad Richards that could greatly increase their chances of making the playoffs. Otherwise I don't see Philly as a playoff team next year. You could argue that Mike Richards and Carter for Brad Richards and Bryzgalov is an even swap, throw in Voracek, Schenn, 4 draft picks and Philly might not skip a beat. If they don't sign Brad Richards, they will have a big hole at the forward position.