[caption id="attachment_3744" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to hockeyforum.com"][/caption]
Considering Sean Burke went 6-5-2 in 15 starts before leaving in the off-season, and Ben Eager only had nine goals in 113 games for the Flyers, Branko Radivojevic was Philly's biggest gain in their 2004 trade with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Shipping Mike Comrie to the desert, the Flyers received the trio of Burke, Eager, and Radivojevic in return. Burke didn't play in the 2004 postseason while Eager decided to save his scoring in the playoffs until he was in Chicago. Radivojevic, on the other hand, played in every game during the Flyers' 2004 playoff run serving as a crucial bottom-six forward. Since leaving Philly, let's take a look at what Radivojevic has done with his career.
Coming over to Philly in the latter part of the 2003-2004 regular season, Radivojevic played in 24 games while scoring a goal and posting 8 assists.
Less than a month after being traded to Philadelphia, Radivojevic took part in one of the biggest brawls in recent memory. On March 5, the Ottawa Senators and Flyers totaled 419 penalty minutes including the 25 alotted to Radivojevic. His role in the brawl took place during Robert Esche's and Patrick Lalime's goalie scuffle. While the goalies tangled, Radivojevic held his own against Ottawa center Shaun Van Allen (fast forward to 1:33).
Thanks to NHLArchive
Falling one win short of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers ended up playing in 18 games during the 2004 NHL playoffs. Radivojevic had a goal and an assist in those 18 games, both of which came in the second period of Philly's 7-2 thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. After assisting on Keith Primeau's goal 44 seconds into the middle stanza, Primeau returned the favor along with Danny Markov to set up Radivojevic 3:10 later to give Philly a 5-1 lead (fast forward to 1:19 for assist and goal).
Thanks to TheLeafsNation
Radivojevic went scoreless for the remaining eight games in the postseason and played in Europe during the lockout. Playing for two different teams Radivojevic scored 13 goals and assisted on 16 others for 29 points in 45 games splitting time between the Czech Extraliga and the Swedish Elite League.
Playing alongside Roman Cechmanek and Radovan Somik with HC Vsetin in the Czech Extraliga, Radivojevic had seven goals and 11 assists in 31 games. Playing alongside Manny Fernandez, Niclas Wallin, Mattias Ohlund, and Mikael Renberg with HF Lulea in the SEL, Radivojevic had six goals and five assists in 10 regular season games. In the playoffs, Radivojevic had 44 PIM in four games for HF Lulea.
After the lockout, Radivojevic returned to the Flyers for one more season in 2005-2006. Missing games due to being scratched and an ankle injury in late February, Radivojevic played in 64 games during the regular season posting eight goals and six assists. Among his highlights were a two-goal, three-point game against the Thrashers in November and the game-winning goal in the Flyers' 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild on December 10th after scoring with just 53 seconds left.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, their 2006 playoff lasted all of six games before bowing out to the Sabres in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Playing in five of the six games, Radivojevic's lone point was a goal that turned out to be the Flyers' final of the season as they lost to the Sabres 7-1 in Game 6. The goal was Radivojevic's last in a Flyers' uniform and his terminal tally in the NHL playoffs.
In July of 2006, Radivojevic left the Flyers to sign with the Minnesota Wild. In his first season with the Wild, Radivojevic played in all 82 regular-season games and posted 24 points, his most in a season since he had 32 splitting time between Phoenix and Philly in the 03-04 season. Eleven of those 24 points were goals, with three of those being game-winners.
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Despite Radivojevic's personal success, the Wild's experience in the 2007 playoffs didn't last long losing to the eventual Cup-winning Anaheim Ducks in five games during the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Radivojevic played in all five games but failed to record a point.
Returning to the Wild for the 2007-2008 season, Radivojevic had seven less points while playing in nine less games. Missing games due to a sore neck, Radivojevic had seven goals and 10 assists leading up to the 2008 NHL playoffs. Losing in the Western Conference Quarterfinals for the second straight year, the Wild fell to the Colorado Avalanche in six games. Missing Games 3,4, and 5 of the series due to a right knee injury, Radivojevic was held pointless again in two playoff games.
Finishing his NHL career with zero points in his last seven postseason games, Radivojevic decided to take his talents to the KHL. Joining Stefan Ruzicka, Radivojevic signed with HC Spartak Moscow for the 2008-2009 season. He has played the last three seasons with HC Spartak Moscow. Scoring 17 goals and posting 28 assists, Radivojevic had 45 points in 49 games posting his most points in a season since he was a Belleville Bull in the OHL. As his team made yet another early exit from the playoffs, Radivojevic had two goals and one assist in six games.
[caption id="attachment_3747" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to ohlalumnicentral.com"][/caption]
Staying with HC Spartak Moscow, Radivojevic set his professional career highs in assists and points as he had 36 assists and 54 points. His 18 goals tied his professional career high he set with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL in the 2001-2002 season. However, in a freak twist, Radivojevic failed to perform while his team had a respectable playoff run. Although he had five assists in nine games, Radivojevic was held scoreless throughout the playoffs.
Later in the 2009-2010 season, Radivojevic represented his home country of Slovakia at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He was held pointless in seven games.
[caption id="attachment_3745" align="aligncenter" width="205" caption="Thanks to bleacherreport.net"][/caption]
This past season, Radivojevic saw his point totals drop slightly while he witnessed Denis Bodrov and Dominik Hasek become his teammates. In 54 games, Radivojevic had his lowest totals yet in the KHL for goals, assists, and points during the regular season posting seven goals and 23 assists for 30 points. Returning to the common trend in his career of performing in the playoffs while his team falters, Radivojevic had two goals and three assists in four games before his team exited the playoffs.
Radivojevic didn't have an outstanding NHL career has he had 120 points in 393 regular season games and 3 points in 31 playoffs games, but he did serve as a strong role player. Known more for his supporting role in Philly, Radivojevic has definitely made his mark in the KHL.
Playing his entire KHL career with HC Spartak Moscow, Radivojevic ranks among the top of the list in several statistical categories for the club's history. Ranking second in regular season games played (159), second in goals scored (42, Ruzicka has 51), first in assists (86), first in points (128), first in PIM (252), first in plus/minus (24), first in shorthanded goals (4), and third in game-winning goals (6), Radivojevic is the face of the HC Spartak Moscow franchise.
[caption id="attachment_3666" align="aligncenter" width="275" caption="Thanks to ch.71.com"][/caption]
Alexander Selivanov will be remembered by most NHL fans as a decent winger for the Tampa Bay Lightning back in the mid 1990's. Currently playing for Bietigheim-Bissingen SC of 2.GBun in Germany, Selivanov has experienced being traded twice in his career. One of those two trades was being shipped to Edmonton in exchange for the infamous Alexandre Daigle. His other trade, back on September 6, 1994, was before he even played a game in the NHL. Selivanov was transferred from Philly to Tampa Bay in exchange for a 4th round pick in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. With that pick the Flyers drafted Radovan Somik.
It took seven years for Somik to reach the Flyers' roster. Playing in parts of both the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 seasons, Somik played in 113 games here, scoring 12 goals and posting 20 assists. He also had two goals and two assists in 15 playoff games in those seasons.
[caption id="attachment_3669" align="aligncenter" width="190" caption="Thanks to hc-vsetin.cz"][/caption]
Just like everybody else during the lockout, Somik played in Europe. Splitting his time between two teams, Somik posted 24 points in 39 games. His first 31 games came with HC Vsetin, which is now VHK Vsetin of the Czech Second National Hockey League.
In those games, which featured teammates Roman Cechmanek, Branko Radivojevic, Jiri Hudler and Rostislav Klesla, Somik had seven goals and 16 assists. In the latter part of the season, Somik joined Janne Niinimaa, Richard Park, and Frans Nielsen with Malmo IF of the Swedish Elite League. Only playing eight games there, Somik scored one goal with no assists.
The following season, Somik left Sweden to play with Cherepovets Severstal, a team that is now known as HC Severstal of the Kontinental Hockey League. Somik played two seasons with the club before playing in the Czech National Hockey League. In his first season with Cherepovets Severstal, Somik had five goals and 16 assists in 37 games adding a goal and an assist in four playoff games. Posting similar numbers in his second season with the club, Somik had six goals and 18 assists in 53 games with a goal in five playoff games.
[caption id="attachment_3668" align="aligncenter" width="298" caption="Thanks to sportky.topky.sk"][/caption]
For the start of the 2007-2008 season, Somik joined HC Pardubice. Currently with the team, Somik saw his lowest point total with HC Pardubice in a season in 2007-2008. Posting just 10 goals and seven assists, in 49 games, Somik didn't participate in the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-2005 season.
The following year Somik redeemed himself, posting his second best season stat- wise with 27 points. However, the scoring touch he regained didn't show up in the postseason as he went pointless in seven games while his team lost in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for Somik, this is the last time he's skated beyond the regular season to date.
Playing in 49 games for the 2009-2010 season, Somik achieved career highs in assists and points while tying his career high in goals. With 15 goals and 18 assists, Somik had 33 points -- beating his previous career high of 28 with HC Zlin ZPS back in 2001-2002.
This past year Somik kept up his scoring ways, setting a career high in goals with 16. With the addition of 15 assists, Somik had 31 points breaking the 30-point mark for the second season in a row.
[caption id="attachment_3667" align="aligncenter" width="298" caption="Thanks to sportky.topky.sk"][/caption]
Just finishing his 10th professional season, it seems as though Somik has seemed to become more of a scorer than a third line type, which is what he was when he played in Philly. The numbers aren't that amazing, but he most certainly has evolved offensively from his time with the Flyers before the lockout. It wouldn't be out of the question to see Somik one day reach the 40-point plateau. He wasn't a Flyer for long, but with his help the Flyers were able to come within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals back in 2004.
[caption id="attachment_3567" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to bleacherreport.com"][/caption]
Eric Lindros, at one time, was the face of the Flyers' franchise. Unfortunately, health issues in addition to an ugly dispute with GM Bob Clarke led to a big trade in August, 2001, shipping Lindros to the division rival New York Rangers. Since Lindros meant so much to this organization, and since other teams in the league were aware of his capabilities, the Flyers had the opportunity to land key players who may one day become the new face of the franchise.
In exchange for Lindros, the Flyers received Jan Hlavac, Kim Johnsson, and Pavel Brendl as well as a 3rd round pick in the 2003 NHL Entry draft, who ended up being Stefan Ruzicka. Johnsson turned out to be the best pick up in the trade scoring 158 points in four seasons with the team. Hlavac and Ruzicka didn't help out the team much as both combined for 86 games in a Flyers' uniform for a grand total of 27 points. Brendl didn't pan out amazingly either as he had 13 points in 52 games while playing two seasons in Philly. Since his time in Philly, Brendl has played on 11 different teams in seven different leagues. Let's look at what Brendl has done in his career after Philly.
Brendl was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in February of 2003. Along with Bruno St. Jacques, Brendl was shipped to the Southeast Division for the beloved Sami Kapanen and Ryan Bast.
"His history over the years is he has scored a lot of goals at the level he's gone through," Hurricanes' general manager Jim Rutherford told SI.com after acquiring Brendl. " He has a very good shot and at some point should be able to score in this league."
[caption id="attachment_3566" align="aligncenter" width="220" caption="Thanks to eliteprospects.com"][/caption]
Brendl wasn't given much opportunity to prove Rutherford right in the latter part of the 2002-03 season as he only had one assist in eight games with his new club.
In the following season, Brendl split his time between the Hurricanes and their AHL affiliate the Lowell Lock Monsters. While joining the likes of Rod Brind'Amour, Justin Williams, Danny Markov, Jesse Boulerice, and Jamie Storr, Brendl had eight points in 18 games scoring five goals, the amount he scored in 42 games for the Flyers in the prior year. Playing alongside Sean Curry with the Monsters, Brendl averaged a point per game posting 33 points in 33 games.
[caption id="attachment_3569" align="aligncenter" width="166" caption="Thanks to armchair-sports-cards.com"][/caption]
Unfortunately for Brendl, the league had a lockout the following year preventing any chance he had to prove himself in the NHL. Playing in only six games for the entire 2004-2005 season, Brendl had three goals in six games for two different teams. Brendl scored all of his goals in four games for HC Thurgau of the Swiss-B league, a team Marc Savard played for in the same season. His other two pointless games were for HC Trinec Ocelari of the Hockey Czech Republic, a team that also saw Radek Bonk, Michal Rozsival, and Vaclav Pletka play for them in the same season.
As the NHL returned to action Brendl found his way back to the states and back to the AHL. As if not playing for the Hurricanes at all in the 2005-2006 season wasn't enough of a blow, Brendl was traded three days after Christmas. In exchange for a former Phantom, Brendl was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes for Krys Kolanos. Brendl would score 13 goals in 38 games for the San Antonio Rampage (Phoenix's AHL affiliate) and was held scoreless in his two games with the Coyotes. These two games turned out to be Brendl's last two games in the NHL.
[caption id="attachment_3570" align="aligncenter" width="256" caption="Thanks to eurohockey.net"][/caption]
Following the 05-06 season, Brendl ended up playing the next two years in the Swedish Elite League. Playing for Mora IK in 2006-2007, Brendl posted his best professional season to date as he had 34 goals and 23 assists in 57 games.
[caption id="attachment_3565" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to hockeyligan.se"][/caption]
Leaving Mora IK, Brendl moved to Brynas IF for the 2007-2008 season. In the same number of games, Brendl fell just short of his previous year's mark as he posted 55 points. He set his professional career high in assists with 24.
Shortly after playing for Brynas IF, Brendl left the Swedish Elite League altogether to play for the KHL. For two seasons, Brendl played for the Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo. In his first season with the team, Brendl scored a professional-high 35 goals in 56 games. In the following season Brendl played in five less games while scoring 27 goals and assisting on 10 more.
[caption id="attachment_3568" align="aligncenter" width="160" caption="Thanks to jatkoaika.com"][/caption]
Switching to his fifth league within six years, Brendl moved to Kalevan Pallo of the SM-Liiga. Playing in his least amount of games for a season since the lockout year, Brendl almost averaged a point per game in a season for the first time in his career posting seven goals and eight assists in 16 games.
Returning to the KHL, Brendl played for Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik this past season. Scoring nine goals, Brendl had 10 points in 24 games playing alongside the long lost Scott Munroe.
To say Brendl was a bust would be an understatement.
Considering he was picked fourth overall in the 1999 NHL draft, Brendl's dominance of European leagues isn't that impressive. He only played in 80 NHL games scoring 22 points and going pointless in every NHL playoff game he's played. The most depressing part is the Flyers don't have anybody to show for their 2001 trade that shipped their former captain to New York.
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Mark Eaton may not be remembered by Flyers' fans for leading the league in points or for being a physical defender, but that doesn't mean Eaton will be forgotten. Not only is he the lone Delaware-born player to ever play in the NHL, Eaton was also part of the highly despised 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins team that won a Stanley Cup beating the Flyers on the way. Starting out with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1998-1999 up to the New York Islanders this past year, Eaton has played with seven different professional teams. What has Eaton done since his rookie season in Philly?
As an undrafted free agent, Eaton was signed by the Flyers in July of 1998. After a season with the Phantoms, Eaton played in 27 games for the Flyers during the 1999-2000 season. He may have had only one goal that season, but it was a game-winning goal against the Boston Bruins on April 8. Eaton also had an assist in his short regular season with the Flyers before the playoffs began. As the Flyers lost to the Devils in 7 games during the Eastern Conference Finals, Eaton experienced 7 games with the club going pointless and penalty free the entire span.
Just before the 2000-2001 season began, Eaton was traded to join Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell with the Nashville Predators for a 3rd round pick, with which the Flyers picked Patrick Sharp in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
[caption id="attachment_3334" align="aligncenter" width="194" caption="Thanks to applecorejunior.com"][/caption]
"I think it'll be a blessing to get away from local pressure," Eaton told Les Bowen at the Daily News. "The friends and family watching me and being able to read everything about me. It'll be good to put that part behind me".
Splitting his time evenly between the Preds and their minor league affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals (a team boasting Randy Robitaille and Rory Fitzpatrick), Eaton played 34 games for both clubs and scored 3 goals for each as well.
In the 2001-2002 season, Eaton saw former teammate Andy Delmore join Nashville as well as play in 58 games for the Predators with three goals and five assists. Despite playing in more games for the Predators, Eaton ended the season with a plus/minus of -12, his career low to this date.
The following season Eaton played in slightly fewer games for the Predators during a season where Scottie Upshall was making his NHL debut with the club. In 50 games, Eaton had two goals and seven assists. Also playing with the Admirals for the first time since 2000-2001, Eaton had a goal in 3 games for Milwaukee.
[caption id="attachment_3335" align="aligncenter" width="182" caption="Thanks to armchair-sports-cards.com"][/caption]
The 2003-2004 season was a big step for Eaton's career. Not only was it the season in which he had played the most games (75), but it was the first time Eaton played in the NHL playoffs since his rookie season. Unfortunately for the Predators, the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings won the series in six games. Unfortunately for Eaton, he had gone pointless in the playoffs yet again.
During the lockout, Eaton joined the Grand Rapids Griffins, a team that had Niklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, Bryan Helmer, Tomas Kopecky, Derek Meech, Brett Lebda, and Joey MacDonald. Playing in just 29 games for Grand Rapids, Eaton had three goals and three assists.
[caption id="attachment_3336" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to penshead.com"][/caption]
After the lockout, Eaton returned to the Predators as they added superstar Paul Kariya as well as former Flyers Mike Sillinger and Danny Markov. Playing in 69 games for Nashville, Eaton's numbers dropped, most notably his plus/minus by 18 (+16 in 2003-2004 to -2 in 2005-2006). Despite his play dropping slightly, the Predators advanced to the playoffs for a second straight year to face the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Sharks won the series in five games as Eaton went pointless during the series.
Eaton left the Predators for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the summer of 2006 via free agency. Joining with Mark Recchi and John LeClair, Eaton played in only 35 games due to wrist and knee injuries, the fewest number of NHL games for Eaton in a season since 2000-2001. In his short season with Pittsburgh, Eaton failed to score a single goal, the first time he's gone scoreless for an entire season at any point in his career. Joining the Penguins for their first round five game loss to the Ottawa Senators, Eaton went pointless for those five games extending his streak to 23 NHL playoff games without a point.
The 2007-2008 season was more of the same for Eaton as he was limited to 36 goalless games for the Penguins due to a knee injury.
The Penguins, however, didn't seem greatly affected by the absence of Eaton. Falling two wins short of a Stanley Cup victory, the Penguins changed a few things for the 2008-2009 season. One of those changes was adding Mark Eaton to the playoff roster.
In a season that wasn't distracted with injuries, Eaton was capable of playing in 68 games for Pittsburgh. He'd score four goals, the most in a season since 2003-2004, and have five assists before the Penguins took on the Flyers in the first round of the 2009 playoffs.
Thanks to the Flyers' inability to win/lose in overtime on the last day of the regular season, the Penguins were handed the fourth seed in the East along with home ice advantage in the opening round. Eaton did his part in the series scoring two goals as the Pens won in six games. After scoring a goal in the first game of the series, Eaton scored the second goal in the Penguins' Game 6 rally that saw an 0-3 deficit become a 5-3 win as they eliminated Philly from the playoffs.
Next in line for Pittsburgh was the Washington Capitals. As the Pens won the series in seven, Eaton had two goals in the series, one of which was a game-tying goal in Game 1. Eaton's only assist in the series was the primary assist on Kris Letang's overtime game-winner in Game 3.
Moving on to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, Eaton was finished scoring goals for the playoffs, but that didn't mean he wouldn't help his team. He'd have an assist in Game 2 of the ECF and an assist in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Red Wings as the Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup. In their 24-game Cup run, Eaton played every game scoring four goals and registering three assists.
[caption id="attachment_3338" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Thanks to Zimbio.com"][/caption]
"When you're a kid, whatever sport you're pursuing, it's your dream to get to the top and win a championship," Eaton told the Beaver County Times. "Outside of family, this is the best thing that could ever happen to a pro athlete."
The following season would be Eaton's last in Pittsburgh as he played in 79 games for the Penguins. During this season Eaton had three goals and 13 assists, the most assists he's had during any season in the NHL. Eaton didn't score any goals in the playoffs, but he did have three assists in 13 games as the Pens fell to the Canadiens in a seven-game Eastern Conference Semifinals series.
Ending his four year stint with Pittsburgh, Eaton left to play for the New York Islanders this past season. Long Island is an area Eaton former played hockey in as he was part of the Apple Core Junior B's for two seasons, a team that plays on Long Beach.
"I loved playing here in Long Island," Eaton told Dyan LeBourdais of the Islanders' website. "It was a huge stepping stone in my hockey career. I'm looking forward to it. My wife and I, my family, we're definitely looking forward to it."
[caption id="attachment_3337" align="aligncenter" width="230" caption="Thanks to Islanders.nhl.com"][/caption]
As the Islanders extended their postseason drought to four seasons, Eaton played in 34 games before a hip injury made him miss the second half of the season. In those 34 games, Eaton had three assists.
His time in Philly was short, but Eaton should be remembered not only for where he's from, but for what he's accomplished in his career.
[caption id="attachment_3234" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="Thanks to bestsportsphotos.com"][/caption]
What do Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, and Janne Niinimaa all have in common? They were all drafted in the 1993 NHL Entry draft. How many were drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers? Only Janne Niinimaa. Pronger went second, to the Hartford Whalers, while Timonen could be considered the hidden gem of the draft going 250nd to the Los Angeles Kings. Well, we know what Pronger and Timonen are doing with their careers now, but what about Niinimaa? Before the aforementioned question is answered, let us remember Niinimaa's brief time spent in Philly.
Spending three seasons with Jokerit in the SM-liiga after being drafted by the Flyers, Niinimaa made his way to the NHL roster for the start of the 1996-1997 season. Niinimaa played 77 games that season registering four goals and 40 assists, good enough to be ranked seventh on the team in points and to be named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. Seventh doesn't sound too good, but keep in mind the 96-97 Flyers also had Eric Lindros, John LeClair, Rod Brind'Amour, Eric Desjardins, Paul Coffey, and Dale Hawerchuk.
Helping the Flyers reach a record of 45-24-13, Niinimaa and his teammates geared up for a Cup run. In the 15 games leading up to the Stanley Cup Finals (4-1 over Pittsburgh, 4-1 over Buffalo, 4-1 over New York), Niinimaa had nine assists, a plus/minus rating of +8, and had the game-winning goal in Game 1 against the Rangers. The only thing left to do in his impressive rookie season was to end the city's (at the time) 22-year Stanley Cup drought.
Thanks to CursedLemon
The Flyers opponent for the Finals was another team trying to end a long Stanley Cup drought of their own in the Detroit Red Wings. Experiencing 42 straight Cupless years, Detroit's hunger for the Cup was felt in Philly as the Red Wings swept the Flyers. Despite a two-assist game in Game 2, Niinimaa finished the series with only three points and a plus/minus rating of -5. In addition, Niinimaa was turned inside out on Darren McCarty's Cup-winning goal, a play that many people will remember Niinimaa for rather than his rookie season numbers.
[caption id="attachment_3235" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to coppernblue.com"][/caption]
The next season, after 66 games with the Flyers, Niinimaa was shipped to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Dan McGillis and a 2nd round pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft (who turned out to be Jason Beckett). In 11 games for the Oilers to end the 97-98 season, Niinimaa had a goal and eight assists; McGillis had a goal and five assists in 13 games for Philly while Beckett never played in the NHL.
During the latter part of the 1998 NHL season, Niinimaa played for his home country of Finland in the Olympics. Niinimaa had three assists in six games as Finland grabbed the Bronze medal.
Niinimaa and the Oilers faced the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the 1998 playoffs. Down 3-1 in the series, the Oilers came back to win the series. Niinimaa had an assist, a plus/minus rating of +5, and the series-winning goal.
Niinimaa's clutch scoring moved the Oilers on to the second round to face the Dallas Stars. Unfortunately, the Stars won the series in five games. Niinimaa had minimal impact on the series as he went pointless with a -2 rating.
Playing the next four seasons in Edmonton, Niinimaa became a staple on the blue line playing at least 81 regular season games in each of the four years. His most impressive year was the 2000-2001 season when he had 12 goals and 34 assists while being named to the NHL All-Star Game. Despite Niinimaa's respectable numbers and play during these four seasons, the Oilers couldn't make it past the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
[caption id="attachment_3236" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to Zimbio.com"][/caption]
In 2002, Niinimaa again represented Finland in the Olympics. Although his home country didn't win a medal this time around, Niinimaa still posted good numbers assisting on three goals in four games.
After playing in his fifth season with the Oilers, Niinimaa found his way to a third different NHL team. This time, it was the New York Islanders. Niinimaa was shipped off to Long Island with a second round pick (who turned out to be Evgeni Tunik) in exchange for Brad Isbister and current Cup contender Raffi Torres.
[caption id="attachment_3237" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Thanks to NHL.com"][/caption]
Playing under current Flyers' head coach Peter Laviolette and playing along Arron Asham, Mattias Timander, Randy Robitaille, and Garth Snow, Niinimaa had a goal and five assists in 13 games for the Islanders before they faced the Ottawa Senators in the opening round of the 2003 playoffs. The Senators beat the Isles in five games as Niinimaa had one assist in the series.
Niinimaa went on to play his only full season for the Islanders in 2003-2004 posting nine goals and 19 assists in 82 games. However, similar to the previous season, the Islanders had their Cup dreams smashed only five games into the opening round as they lost their series to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Niinimaa performed strongly in the brief series scoring his first playoff goal since his series-winning goal against Colorado in 1998 and posted two assists.
Like most NHL players during the 2004-2005 lockout, Niinimaa played in another professional league. His team of choice was Karpat of the SM-liiga, a team that included Jussi Jokinen, Mika Pyorala, Michael Nylander, Lasse Kukkonen, Pekka Rinne, and Niklas Backstrom. In 26 games with Karpat, Niinimaa had three goals, 10 assists, and was a +14 (his best plus/minus rating since his 1999-2000 season with Edmonton).
After spending time with Karpat during the lockout, Niinimaa moved on to Malmo IF of the Swedish Elite League (SEL). Playing with Richard Park, Radovan Somik, and Patrick Hersley, Niinimaa registered three assists in 10 games.
As the lockout ended, Niinimaa returned to play for the Islanders in the 2005-2006 season before being traded to Dallas halfway through the season. Niinimaa went to the Stars, along with a fifth round draft pick in the 2007 NHL Entry draft, as current Washington Capital John Erskine and a second round draft pick in the 2006 NHL Entry draft (who turned out to be Jesse Joensuu) were shipped to the Islanders.
[caption id="attachment_3238" align="aligncenter" width="194" caption="Thanks to Life.com"][/caption]
Playing in 22 regular season games and four playoff games, Niinimaa had two goals and five assists in what turned out to be his shortest stay with any NHL team.
During the 2006 preseason, Niinimaa was traded yet again. In exchange for Mike Ribeiro and a sixth round draft pick in 2008, Niinimaa went to the Montreal Canadiens along with a fifth round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry draft (pick turned out to be Andrew Conboy).
[caption id="attachment_3239" align="aligncenter" width="245" caption="Thanks to theryancokeexperience.wordpress.com"][/caption]
Niinimaa only played 41 games for the Canadiens before leaving for the Swiss-A league in the following season. Since Niinimaa only had three assists in those 41 games, the Canadiens were the only NHL team Niinimaa played for in which he had not scored a goal.
Playing with HC Davos of the Swiss-A league in the 2007-2008 season, along with Alexandre Daigle, Niinimaa's stat line had two astonishing numbers: assists and PIM. Niinimaa posted the most assists he had in four years with 28, but what may have been more surprising were his 127 PIM, hands down the most Niinimaa had in any season during his career.
Switching teams, but staying within the Swiss-A league, Niinimaa went to the SCL Tigers. Niinimaa only played in 20 games posting 18 points before leaving the team at the end of the season for HV71 Jonkoping.
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Helping HV71 Jonkoping become Swedish Champions, Niinimaa had three assists in 16 postseason games for the club.
For the 2010-2011 season, Niinimaa played for his ninth different team in the seven years as he joined HF Lulea. After posting 30 points in 48 regular season games, Niinimaa would go on to have a goal and five assists in 11 games.
Niinimaa, despite playing in over 700 NHL games, is considered a bust by many as his numbers slowly declined over the years. A rookie season that showed much promise for a young puck-moving defenseman has resulted in a player who hasn't seen the NHL since 2006. It's hard to use the excuse that Niinimaa is too old to be competitive in the NHL since Pronger and Timonen are currently on our blue line. Despite not playing for a lengthy time in Philly, Flyers' fans will forever remember him for his part in McCarty's Cup-winning goal and question what could have become of Niinimaa.