[caption id="attachment_4383" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Thanks to USA Today"][/caption]
For a player who wasn't drafted, Ruslan Fedotenko has made a noticeable impact on North American hockey. Averaging less than a point every 2 games over his career (333 points in 743 games), Fedotenko has found a way to grab four game-winning scores for his team in the postseason. One of those actually clinched the Stanley Cup for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, a year where -- instead of die-hard Flyers fans celebrating the end of a Stanley Cup drought -- Fedotenko and Dmitry Afanasenkov hoisted the Cup in Florida.
Let's look at what Fedotenko has done in addition to winning the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay after he left Philadelphia.
Fedotenko joined the Flyers' organization during the 1999-2000 season. Sticking with the Philadelphia Phantoms all season long, Fedotenko was one of the better forwards, recording 17 goals and 34 assists in 67 games.
The following season was Fedotenko's first taste of the NHL. Playing just eight games for the Phantoms, Fedotenko stayed with the big club for 74 games and posted 16 goals and 20 assists. He'd also produce 72 penalty miuntes, his highest total for any season by far with his 52 PIM in 2006-2007 being second closest.
Due to his inexperience and the fact the Flyers didn't last long in the playoffs, Fedontenko's playoff magic didn't kick into gear. As the Sabres beat Philly in 6 games to win their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals battle, Fedotenko's only point came on the secondary assist of Simon Gagne's first-period goal in the Flyers' 3-1 Game 5 victory.
Learning from his rookie season, Fedotenko managed to score more while limiting his time in the penalty box the following year. Playing four more games in the 2001-2002 season than he did in his rookie campaign, Fedotenko scored 17 goals and had nine assists while dropping his PIM total to 43.
In the 2002 playoffs, the Flyers were absolutely embarrassed by the Ottawa Senators in the ECQF. Losing in 5 games, Philly managed to score only two goals all series. In Game 1, both Roman Cechmanek and Patrick Lalime kept the game scoreless as it went into overtime. Almost eight minutes into the extra period, Fedotenko gave the Flyers their only playoff win in 2002 with his only playoff goal as a Flyer.
Thanks to Southrob1231
In June of that year, Fedotenko was traded to the Lightning with two second- round picks in the 2002 draft for Tampa Bay's first round pick in 2002. With their newly acquired first-round selection, the Flyers picked Joni Pitkanen, a defender who played two seasons with Philly and is currently with the Carolina Hurricanes.
[caption id="attachment_4384" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Thanks to Bleacher Report"][/caption]
Fedotenko's first season in Tampa Bay was similar to his time in Philadelphia. He'd have 18 goals and 14 assists in 76 games while scoring only one point in 11 postseason games. As the Lightning fell to the New Jersey Devils in five games during the Eastern Conference Semifinals after beating the Washington Capitals in 6 games during the ECQF, Fedotenko's one point was the secondary assist on Martin St. Louis' first period goal in Tampa Bay's only win all series.
The 2003-2004 regular season for Fedotenko wasn't vastly different than his prior three seasons in the league. Posting 39 points in 77 games, there wasn't much indication that Fedotenko would have a memorable playoff run.
Finishing first in the Eastern Conference, the Lightning took on the eighth-seeded New York Islanders. The resurgent Bolts won the series in five games, and Fedotenko had two goals in the series -- scoring once each in Game 4 and Game 5.
Taking on the Montreal Canadiens in the East semis, the Lightning swept the series to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on the Flyers. Fedotenko's only point in the short set was the winning goal in Game 1 which came early in the second period.
In the infamous Flyers-Lightning seesaw series of 2004, Fedotenko simply bedeviled his former teammates, striking for six goals and one assist in Tampa's seven-game triumph. He'd have the game-winning goal in Game 3, two goals in Game 6, and the first goal of the night in Game 7.
Now four wins away from the Stanley Cup, Fedotenko and the Lightning geared up to take on the Calgary Flames. Fedotenko played in six of the seven games needed to complete the series (missing Game 4 -- the only game during the playoff run he was absent). He'd have three goals and one assist throughout the series. Two of his three markers came in the deciding Game 7, one of which was the Cup-clinching goal (go to :55).
Thanks to jerms819
In total, Fedotenko had 12 goals and 2 assists in his 22 appearances for the Lightning during the 2004 Cup-winning run.
[caption id="attachment_4388" align="aligncenter" width="256" caption="Thanks to Sports Illustrated"][/caption]
Unlike most players, Fedotenko didn't suit up for another team during the NHL's lockout of the 2004-2005 season.
One would think his lack of playing might limit his production for the 2005-2006 season. However, quite the opposite happened as Fedotenko set his current career highs in games, goals, and points in that first year back. With 26 goals and 15 assists, Fedotenko had 41 points in 80 games as the Lightning grabbed the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference to sneak into the 2006 playoffs.
Despite his impressive postseason performance in 2004 and displaying big numbers in the regular season, Fedotenko went pointless in the five games it took for the top-seeded Senators to knock out the Lightning in the ECQF.
Carrying over the disappointment from the 2006 playoffs to the 2006-2007 regular season, Fedotenko netted only 12 goals, the least he'd have in any season with the Lightning. To make matters worse, Fedotenko went pointless yet again in the postseason as he took part in only four of a six-game loss to the Devils in the 2007 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
[caption id="attachment_4385" align="alignright" width="162" caption="Thanks to OG Paper"][/caption]
Prior to the following season, Fedotenko decided to return to the Atlantic Division and signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders. Marred by a late season knee injury and the fact the Islanders didn't make the playoffs, the 2007-2008 regular season was an uncharacteristically rough one. Playing in 67 games and scoring 16 goals with 17 assists, Fedotenko endured his only season since joining the NHL where he wouldn't play beyond the regular season.
[caption id="attachment_4386" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Thanks to Wikipedia"][/caption]
Almost a year to the date after signing a one-year contract with the Islanders, Fedotenko signed another one-year contract, this time with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2008-2009 season. Missing 15 games due to a broken hand after fightning Colby Armstrong in a game against the Atlanta Thrashers on January 6, Fedotenko played in 67 games and totaled 39 points, the most he had in any season since '05-'06.
Thanks to hockeyfightsdotcom
Falling two wins short of a Stanley Cup in 2008, the Penguins were looking to reach the Finals for a second straight season.
In the ECQF, the Pens took on the Flyers in a series remembered for Max Talbot "quieting" the Philly crowd to start a Pittsburgh Game 6 comeback. In the six-game series against his former team, Fedotenko scored the Pens' first goal in Game 6 to start the rally along with an assist on Mark Eaton's goal less than two minutes later. He also had an assist in Pittsburgh's Game 3 loss.
As the Penguins advanced to the ECSF they faced Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Highlighted with a three game scoring streak from Game 3 to Game 5, Fedotenko had three goals and two assists against the Caps as the Pens won in seven games to advance to take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Stunning the top-seeded Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Hurricanes were looking to extend their magic to the ECF against the Pens. Unfortunately, it didn't happen as they were swept by Pittsburgh in four games. Fedotenko had a goal and an assist in Game 3 while adding on another goal in Game 4.
For the second straight year, the Penguins looked to beat the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals. This time, however, they'd come out victorious. Scoring his only goal during the series in Game 1, Fedotenko also contributed two assists, one of which was the secondary helper on Tyler Kennedy's Game 6 winner.
For the second time in his career Fedotenko was a Stanley Cup Champion. With his numbers slightly lower than what he posted in 2004, his seven goals and seven assists during the run were crucial to Pittsburgh's success.
[caption id="attachment_4391" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Thanks to Zimbio"][/caption]
Flush with another dose of ultimate success, Fedotenko decided to spend another season in the Steel City, inking another one-year pact weeks after the title.
Scoring just 11 goals in the 2009-2010 regular season, Fedotenko netted 30 points in 80 games before the Penguins took on the Senators in the opening round of the playoffs. Taking part in only two games against the Sens and four games of the Pens next series against the Canadiens, Fedotenko went pointless in six games marking the third time he'd have a pointless postseason in a four-year span.
Leaving Pittsburgh in the 2010 offseason, Fedotenko was invited to the New York Rangers training camp in September later signing with the team in October. Missing 16 games due to a seperated left shoulder, Fedotenko played in 66 games posting career lows in goals (10), assists (15), and points (25). As the Rangers took on the top-seeded Caps in the opening round, Fedotenko had two assists in the five game series. Both came in the Rangers' double overtime loss in Game 4 before the Rangers ultimately lost the series in Game 5.
[caption id="attachment_4387" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Thanks to Bleacher Report"][/caption]
This past July Fedotenko signed another one-year contract with the Rangers. It's his sixth one-year deal over his career.
Fedotenko isn't consistent in the playoffs, but when he's hot he can help lead a team to the Cup. He'll turn 33 in January meaning his speed and ice time are most likely dwindling as well as his likelihood to have a positive impact on a team come April.
Even if his time being a clutch postseason role player are over, Fedotenko will be remembered by fans around the league.
[caption id="attachment_4294" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to Forsythe and the Flyers"][/caption]
In an attempt to return the last place Flyers back to the playoffs in just one season, Paul Holmgren was aggressive in his first couple months as GM back in 2006-2007. In addition to attaining Braydon Coburn, Lasse Kukkonen, and Martin Biron, Holmgren used Peter Forsberg and the pick Nashville originally gave the Flyers in exchange for Forsberg to rob the Predators of Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen, Ryan Parent, and Scottie Upshall.
As Hartnell and Timonen remain a part of the Flyers' organization, Parent and Upshall left after playing multiple seasons in Philly. Parent is currently in Vancouver while Upshall has bounced around since being a fan favorite in The City of Brotherly Love. Let's take a look at his career since his days in Orange and Black.
Two days after being traded to the Flyers, Upshall made his presence felt. In his first game with Philly, Upshall scored the Flyers' fourth goal of the game on a wrap-around shot to beat the New York Rangers' Steve Valiquette early in the third period. The goal turned out to be the game-winning goal as the Flyers went on to win 5-3.
The tally was one of six Upshall scored in his 18 games for the Flyers back in 2006-2007. He'd score three of those against the Boston Bruins, one of which was his other game-winning goal for the Flyers that season. As Sami Kapanen led him on a breakaway during overtime, Upshall pulled off an impressive reach-around backhanded shot to win it for the Flyers with just 10 seconds left.
Thanks to nameht123
Adding in the fact Upshall also had seven assists for 13 points in 18 games with the Flyers to close out the season, Holmgren decided to sign him to a two-year contract in early July of 2007. Limited to just 61 games due to ankle and wrist injuries, Upshall joined Mike Knuble and Jeff Carter to form one of the Flyers most productive lines during the 2007-2008 season. Scoring 14 goals and posting 16 assists in his lone full season with the Flyers, Upshall helped Philly return to the playoffs.
Since the Flyers finished sixth in the Eastern Conference they'd take on the third-seeded Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. In an intense series that ultimately went seven games, Upshall enjoyed his first playoff series victory as he posted three assists during the Quarterfinals and opened the scoring for Philly in Game 7.
As Philly moved on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, they faced the top-seeded Montreal Canadiens, a team that swept the Flyers during the regular season. After dropping the first game in overtime, the Flyers went on to win four straight upsetting the Canadiens and heading on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Upshall had three points during the series, one of which was the series-winning goal that came late in Game 5 via deflection off of a Jeff Carter wrist shot (go to 8:25).
Thanks to loksun
Upshall and his teammates didn't have the juice left for the ECF against the Pittsburgh Penguins due to injuries, and the Flyers lost in five games. Upshall not only went pointless, but also lost a fight to Tyler Kennedy.
[caption id="attachment_4295" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to USA Today"][/caption]
During the 2008-2009 season, Upshall played in 55 games for the Flyers scoring seven goals and registering 14 assists before he was shipped to Phoenix. Along with a second round pick in the 2011 NHL draft, with which Phoenix picked Lucas Lessio, Upshall joined the Coyotes' roster while Daniel Carcillo was shipped to Philly.
[caption id="attachment_4296" align="aligncenter" width="298" caption="Thanks to Sports Illustrated"][/caption]
Upshall was floored by the trade. " I sat around this morning and thought I wouldn't want to be anywhere but Philadelphia after today and finish the season here," Upshall told the Associated Press the day of the deal. "It was tough to take."
Despite being upset about the trade, Upshall had an immediate impact on his new team. Playing in just 19 games for the Coyotes to finish out the season, Upshall scored eight goals, one more than he had in his 55 games for the Flyers earlier that season. Adding on five assists to his goal total for Phoenix in the limited number of games, Upshall earned himself a one-year contract from the Coyotes late in July of 2009.
The 2009-2010 season was a year of mixed feelings for Upshall. Despite posting his career highs in goals and points, Upshall most likely ended the season wondering what could have been. Missing a couple games due to upper and lower body injuries, Upshall had 18 goals and 14 assists in 48 games before tearing his ACL against the Calgary Flames in his 49th game of the season. He'd miss the final 27 regular season games as well as all of the Coyotes' seven game loss in the Western Conference Quarterfinals to the Detroit Red Wings.
[caption id="attachment_4297" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Thanks to The Columbus Dispatch"][/caption]
This past season was Upshall's first season in the NHL where he played 82 games, the equivalent of a full season, but the total didn't come in typical fashion. After posting 16 goals and 11 assists in in 61 games with the Coyotes, along with a two-game suspension for a late hit on Oskars Bartulis, Upshall was traded for the third time in his career. This time, he joined the Columbus Blue Jackets along with Sami Lepisto in exchange for Rostislav Klesla and Dane Byers. In 21 games for the Blue Jackets, Upshall had six goals and one assist.
Thanks to NHLArchive
This past July, Upshall signed a four-year contract with the revamped Florida Panthers.
[caption id="attachment_4298" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to the Florida Panthers' Website"][/caption]
Upshall was a great pest and energy player in his time with Philly. When he traveled to Phoenix and Columbus he experienced a little more scoring and high point totals. With the help of new additions Ed Jovanovski, Jose Theodore, Marcel Goc, Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, Brian Campbell, and Nolan Yonkman, Upshall is looking to push the new look Panthers into the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
Can Upshall be a leader for Florida or will he return to his agitating form from Philadelphia?
[caption id="attachment_4179" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to Forsythe and the Flyers"][/caption]
The 2010 Stanley Cup Finals is something a Flyers' fan never wants to think about. Adding on to the agony of coming so close to the Cup and the constant replaying of Patrick Kane's weak goal line shot was the fact multiple former Flyers hurt them in the Finals. Ben Eager had the game-winning goal in Game 2, Kane, who never played for the Flyers but was selected first by the Chicago Blackhawks despite the Flyers having the worst record in the league, had eight points in the series (including three in Game 6), and Patrick Sharp had six points.
Sharp was picked by the Flyers in the third round back in the 2001 NHL Draft going 95th overall, one pick behind Evgeny Artyukhin. Playing one more year at the University of Vermont, Sharp joined the Flyers' organization in 2002 playing the majority of his games with the Phantoms. Sharp went pointless in three games with the Flyers during the 2002-2003 season making his debut on October 10th against the Edmonton Oilers. With the Phantoms, Sharp scored 14 goals and had 19 assists.
[caption id="attachment_4180" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to Life.com"][/caption]
The following season Sharp would see more time in the NHL than the AHL. Playing in 18 less games with the Phantoms, Sharp had 15 goals, one more than the prior season. He'd have five less assists for a total of 29 points. Despite playing in 41 games with the Flyers during the 2003-2004 season, Sharp only averaged 9:56 of ice time per game. Limited to such little time on the ice, Sharp only had five goals and two assists. He'd join the Flyers for the playoffs scoring a goal in the Flyers' Game 5 loss to the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals. The goal was Sharp's only point in 12 games during the postseason (go to 1:27).
Thanks to jerms819
Staying in Philadelphia during the lockout, Sharp played the entire 2004-2005 season with the Phantoms. Posting his highest point total for any of his seasons in Philadelphia, Sharp had 23 goals and 29 assists in 75 games before the Phantoms headed for the AHL playoffs. Taking part in every game of the Calder Cup run, Sharp had eight goals and 13 assists as the Phantoms won the AHL Championship for the second time in franchise history.
[caption id="attachment_4181" align="aligncenter" width="234" caption="Thanks to Life.com"][/caption]
After enjoying his first championship as a pro, Sharp experienced his only trade to date during the next season. In early December, after posting eight points in 22 games, Sharp was shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks along with right winger Eric Meloche in exchange for Matt Ellison and Chicago's 3rd round pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. The Flyers later traded this pick to Montreal for a third and fourth round pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. With these picks the Flyers drafted Jonathan Matsumoto and Jakub Kovar respectively while the Canadiens drafted Ryan White.
[caption id="attachment_4182" align="aligncenter" width="280" caption="Thanks to nhlpa.com"][/caption]
Finishing out the 2005-2006 season with the Hawks, Sharp took part in 50 games scoring nine goals and posting 14 assists as Chicago finished fourteenth in the Western Conference. Following the season, Sharp signed a two-year contract with the Hawks.
Sharp played in eight more games the following season with the Hawks as he scored 20 goals and posted 15 assists. As Sharp's performance improved, the Hawks seemed to fade. Chicago finished 13th in the conference with 71 points, 15 more than the Flyers' 56 points, allowing them to obtain Patrick Kane with the first overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft.
The 2007-2008 season was more of the same for Sharp and the Blackhawks. Sharp played 80 games for the second straight season and reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career as he had 36. With the addition of 26 assists, Sharp had 62 points for the Blackhawks as they finished just three points out of the playoffs. This was the Hawks' fifth straight season missing the playoffs and their ninth time in ten seasons.
Sharp only played in 61 regular season games during the 2008-2009 season. Missing 16 games due to a sprained left knee in February, Sharp only had 44 points scoring 26 goals and posting 18 assists. Although Sharp had a season not quite up to his expectations, the Hawks ended the season fourth in the Western Conference and earned a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
The Hawks had an impressive run as they reached the Conference Finals for the first time since 1995. Sharp helped the Hawks by scoring seven goals during their 17 game run tying him with Jonathan Toews for second on the team. Against the Calgary Flames during the Western Conference Quarterfinals Sharp had three goals and three assists in six games including the game-winner in Game 5. As Chicago beat the Vancouver Canucks in six games during the Conference Semifinals, Sharp had two goals, both of which came in Game 2, and an assist. In their final series against the Detroit Red Wings, Sharp had two goals and the game-winner in Game 3.
Gaining experience in the postseason, Sharp and his teammates were poised to make another deep Cup run in the 2010 playoffs. During the regular season, Sharp played every game scoring 25 goals, four of which were game-winners. He'd also set his career high in assists with 41 and points with 66. Sharp's performance helped the Hawks grab the Central Division title as well as second place in the Western Conference standings heading into the 2010 playoffs.
Sharp took part in all 22 of the Blackhawks' postseason games in 2010 as they went on to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961. Sharp and Dustin Byfuglien shared the team lead in goals during the 2010 postseason with 11. In their 6-game series victory against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Sharp had three goals and four assists including a two-goal game with the game-winner in Game 4 and a three-point game in Game 6. As the Hawks beat the Canucks in the Western Conference Semifinals for the second straight year, Sharp had two goals and five assists highlighted by a four-point game in Game 4. In Chicago's sweep of the San Jose Sharks in the Conference Finals, Sharp had two goals.
Sharp and his teammates were now four wins away from the Stanley Cup. All that stood in front of them was Sharp's former team, the Philadelphia Flyers. Showing how thankful he was that the Flyers helped him reach the NHL, Sharp scored four goals against his former team adding on two assists. Sharp's performance helped Chicago end their 49-year Cup drought.
[caption id="attachment_4183" align="aligncenter" width="185" caption="Thanks to brycehubner.com"][/caption]
"It means everything," Sharp told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's unbelievable just to see everybody on the ice, to see our families who supported us all year long. I dreamed about holding (the Stanley Cup) my whole life - what a feeling."
Sharp followed up his Cup-winning experience in 2010 with a great personal season of his own. Setting a career high in points, Sharp had 34 goals and 37 assists this past season for 71 points. His effort earned him a spot at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. Playing for Team Staal, Sharp had a goal and two assists which allowed him to be the game's MVP.
[caption id="attachment_4184" align="aligncenter" width="298" caption="Thanks to SI.com"][/caption]
Limping their way into the postseason, the Hawks were handed the eight seed in the Western Conference thanks to a lackluster effort from the Dallas Stars on the final day of the regular season. Not taking advantage of the situation, the Hawks found themselves in an 0-3 hole to the Vancouver Canucks heading into Game 4. Fighting valiantly to force a Game 7, the Hawks came one goal away from pulling off the hardest comeback in all of sports falling to the Canucks in overtime. Sharp had three goals and two assists in the series along with the Hawks' best scoring chance in overtime of Game 7.
Thanks to canucksTV1
Patrick Sharp's career is likely far from over. Turning 30 in December, Sharp still has several more seasons to capture another Stanley Cup in Chicago. His fame and glory may come in Chicago, but Sharp broke into the league with Philadelphia, a fact he is quick to remember.
"They were a first-place team, pushing for a championship, and it was tough to break into that lineup," Sharp told NHL.com. "I was thankful for the Flyers trading me to a great place that gave me a chance to play."
[caption id="attachment_4114" align="aligncenter" width="186" caption="Thanks to Life"][/caption]
The Vancouver Canucks fell one win short of taking home the Stanley Cup in the 2010-2011 season. After winning the first two games against Boston, the Canucks went on to lose four of the next five allowing the Bruins to win their first Stanley Cup since 1972. Their lone win in the final five meetings came in Game 5, as Maxim Lapierre scored the only goal early in the third period to hand Vancouver a 1-0 victory. Lapierre was taken in the second round during the 2003 NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, a pick the Habs received from the Flyers in exchange for Eric Chouinard.
Spending most of his career in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), Chouinard has taken part in nearly 100 NHL games spanning over four different seasons. Playing in 90 NHL regular-season games, and no playoff games, Chouinard participated in 46 games with the Flyers, barely scoring 10 points overall.
[caption id="attachment_4112" align="aligncenter" width="216" caption="Thanks to hockeydb.com"][/caption]
After being traded to Philadelphia in late January of 2003, Chouinard played in 28 games while scoring four goals and registering four assists. This would be Chouinard's highest totals in games, PIM, goals, assists, and points for any of the seasons in which he played for the Flyers. His production somehow earned him a two-year contract with the Orange and Black.
[caption id="attachment_4113" align="aligncenter" width="177" caption="Thanks to sportsecyclopedia.com"][/caption]
Despite signing a multi-year pact, Chouinard saw just 18 more games in the Philadelphia organization before being shipped elsewhere. Scoring three goals in 17 games with the Flyers and going pointless in a game with the Phantoms, Chouinard was traded to the Minnesota Wild in the middle of December for a fifth round pick in the 2004 NHL Draft. With said pick, the Flyers picked Chriz Zarb, a defenseman who has only played four games in the AHL and just finished a PIM-filled season with the Dundee Stars of the ELITE Ice Hockey League (EIHL).
Playing in 31 games over the remaining portion of the 2003-2004 season, Chouinard had three goals and four assists as the Wild missed the playoffs and finished 10th in the Western Conference.
As the NHL went through a lockout, Chouinard joined EC Red Bull Salzburg of the Erste Bank Hockey League in Austria. In his 16 games there, Chouinard was teammates with former New Jersey Devil Jay Pandolfo and current New York Islander Marty Reasoner. He'd score five goals and have five assists in his brief break from the NHL. With those 10 points, Chouinard matched his previous season's point total despite playing in 33 fewer games.
Returning to North America for the 2005-2006 NHL season, Chouinard returned to Philly, but he didn't stay in Pennsylvania for long. After netting seven goals and seven assists in 24 games with the Phantoms and going pointless in one game with the Flyers, Chouinard was traded by Philadelphia for a second time in his career. This time, he was sent to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Kiel McLeod. Playing in four different leagues over the past four seasons, McLeod has never sniffed NHL action.
Chouinard never played for the Coyotes as he was sent down to their AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, shortly after the trade. He'd have eight goals and 12 assists in 47 games with the Rampage before leaving the AHL and NHL for good at season's end.
To open the 2006-2007 season, Chouinard tried out for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Russian Super League, which is now the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). After being cut by the team, Chouinard moved on to play a handful of games for HC Sierre in Switzerland's National League B (NLB). His four games with the team was the shortest tenure he'd have with any team since turning pro. Chouinard had three goals and three assists in those games before leaving for the DEL.
The Straubing Tigers were Chouinard's sixth different team within this two-year span, but it was here where he'd finally stay for a couple seasons. Joining the Tigers in late November of 2006, Chouinard ended up playing 27 games for the club over the remainder of the season scoring six goals and posting 17 assists.
[caption id="attachment_4117" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to spox.com"][/caption]
The following season Chouinard returned to the Tigers and displayed his best statistical season as a professional to date. Playing in 55 games, Chouinard had 30 goals, 52 points, and 58 PIM, all of which were pro career highs. He'd also have 22 assists, one shy of tying his pro career high he recorded with the Quebec Citadelles back in 2001-2002. Chouinard's play during the 2007-2008 season earned him a spot at the DEL All-Star Game.
Taking part in a third season with the Tigers, Chouinard saw a drop in games played, goals, assists, points, and PIM. Playing in 14 less games than the prior season, Chouinard had 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points. He'd also have 12 PIM, a drop-off of 46 from 2007-2008. This season was Chouinard's final season with Straubing ending his longest tenure to date with any professional team as he played in 123 games over a three year span.
[caption id="attachment_4116" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to icetigers.de"][/caption]
For the past two seasons Chouinard has been a member of the Nuremburg Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers. In his first season with the club, Chouinard just missed the 30-point mark as he had 15 goals and 14 assists while playing in 45 games. This season also marked the first time Chouinard would take part in any league's playoffs since he played for the Flyers. He made his presence felt in the postseason as he had two goals and two assists in five games.
This past season, Chouinard played in seven more games for the Ice Tigers during the regular season while improving his numbers as well. He'd set a professional career high with 25 assists while also scoring 24 goals for 49 points. Chouinard also set his pro career high in plus/minus with +17. Taking part in his second straight postseason, Chouinard had an assist in two games for the club.
Chouinard will return to Nuremburg for the 2011-2012 season.
After years of bouncing around in the NHL and AHL, it looks as though Chouinard has found consistency in Germany's premier hockey league. Posting three 30-point seasons over the last four years and appearing in an All-Star Game, Chouinard is making a name for himself in Europe. At just 31 years of age, Chouinard still has the chance to become captain of the Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers and lead them to the DEL Championship.
[caption id="attachment_4061" align="aligncenter" width="176" caption="Thanks to Flyers History"][/caption]
Jim Vandermeer has played in 457 NHL games over his 10-year professional career. Of those 457, just 83 had been with the Philadelphia Flyers. Becoming a professional with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2001, Vandermeer joined the Flyers' roster a year later playing in several games for both clubs over the next two seasons. Since his playing days with Philly back in the 2003-2004 season, Vandermeer has played on several teams including a brief return to the Flyers. Let's take a look at Vandermeer's brief but well-traveled career.
In February of 2004, Vandermeer's first stint with the Flyers ended as he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks with Colin Fraser and a 2nd-round pick in the 2004 draft for Alexei Zhamnov and a 4th-round pick in the same draft. Zhamnov helped the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference Finals as he scored four goals and had 10 assists in the 18-game span. The trade was definitely beneficial for the moment and not so much for the future considering Vandermeer, Fraser, and Bryan Bickell (2nd round pick) are all still in the league while Zhamnov left Philly after 2004 and R.J. Anderson (4th round pick) has never seen the NHL.
Finishing out the '03-'04 season with the Blackhawks, Vandermeer displayed more offense than expected out of the physical defenseman. In 23 games, Vandermeer had two goals and 10 assists for 12 points, four of which came during a four-game point-streak in March.
[caption id="attachment_4062" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to upi.com"][/caption]
Staying within the Chicago organization during the lockout, Vandermeer played 52 games for the Norfolk Admirals, Chicago's AHL affiliate. Skating with Matt Ellison and Michael Leighton, Vandermeer actually posted fewer points during the 2004-2005 than he did in the previous campaign despite playing in three more games and playing against AHL-talent all season long. With three goals and 10 assists, Vandermeer's point total dropped six points from the prior season.
[caption id="attachment_4063" align="aligncenter" width="110" caption="Thanks to the Norfolk Admirals' Fan Page Photos"][/caption]
The following season would be the first in which he spent the entire season in the NHL. In 76 games with the 'Hawks, Vandermeer tallied six goals and 18 assists. His best game came in November against the Blues where he scored two goals, including the game-winner (assisted by none other than Matthew Barnaby and Jim Dowd), and was the First Star selection. This season also saw Vandermeer's only suspension in the NHL as he sat out two games for a dangerous high-sticking penalty on Vancouver's Daniel Sedin.
Re-signed by the Blackhawks on August 1st to a one-year deal, Vandermeer experienced another full season with Chicago. Unfortunately, he'd only play in 46 games as he sat out 33 games due to breaking his right ankle. In those 46 games, Vandermeer had a goal and six assists. Three of Vandermeer's seven points that year came against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Even with the injury, the 'Hawks liked what they saw in Vandermeer and re-signed him yet again in the 2007 offseason. However, as opposed to the previous two seasons, Vandermeer didn't see his season come to a close in the Windy City. After posting two goals and seven assists in 26 games for the Blackhawks, Vandermeer was shipped back to Philly in exchange for Ben Eager.
In his final 28 games with the Flyers, Vandermeer had five assists and registered just one goal -- which helped the Flyers beat the Penguins in late January as well as causing Ty Conklin to lose it (go to 3:15).
Thanks to NHLVideo
Just two months after returning to the Orange and Black, Vandermeer was traded to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 3rd round pick in the 2009 draft, with which the Flyers picked Simon Bertilsson. After 21 regular season games with the Flames, Vandermeer experienced the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2002-2003 with the Flyers. He'd go pointless as the Flames lost in seven games to the higher-seeded San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
[caption id="attachment_4064" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Thanks to the flames.nhl.com"][/caption]
Looking for more stability after a season that saw him traded twice, Vandermeer signed a three-year contract with the Flames in the 2008 offseason. In early November of 2008, Vandermeer broke his left ankle and missed 25 games. Playing in 45 games for Calgary during the regular season, Vandermeer had a goal and six assists. Enjoying a taste of the postseason for a second straight season, Vandermeer's journey for a Stanley Cup ended with the same disappointment. Facing his former team, Vandermeer and his Flames teammates exited the playoffs in the Quarterfinals again, losing to Chicago in six games.
[caption id="attachment_4065" align="aligncenter" width="221" caption="Thanks to oilers.nhl.com"][/caption]
Adding on to the pain of another early loss in the playoffs, Vandermeer was dealt yet again. This time he was shipped out to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for the gritty Brandon Prust. Playing in 65 games for Phoenix, Vandermeer had four goals and eight assists while avoiding ankle issues. The Coyotes witnessed Vandermeer's most recent game-winning goal as he had the second goal in a Phoenix 4-1 win against Columbus on October 28th (go to 1:47).
Thanks to NHLVideo
Traded for the second time in back-to-back offseasons, Vandermeer left Phoenix for Edmonton in exchange for Patrick O' Sullivan. Playing in 62 games for a second straight season, Vandermeer missed 15 games due to ankle injuries. He'd have two goals and 12 assists.
[caption id="attachment_4066" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com"][/caption]
On July 1st Vandermeer signed a one-year contract with the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are Vandermeer's seventh different NHL team and his fourth different team in four seasons.
Being only 31 years of age, Vandermeer still has a couple of seasons left in him depending on how far his ankles let him play. Not only did Vandermeer serve as a dependable secondary-pair defenseman in Philly, he also brought the Flyers a crucial piece to a deep playoff run and one of the organization's better prospects at the moment.
For Vandermeer, the concern right now isn't whether or not the Sharks are going to make the playoffs, it's whether or not he can help them win the Stanley Cup.