The Philadelphia Flyers have a bit of a history of parting ways with players too early and watching them flourish with other teams. One case in point is Patrick Sharp, who is four victories away from his third Stanley Cup championship with the Chicago Blackhawks.
A third-round selection in the 2001 draft, Sharp made his NHL debut with the Flyers in 2002-03, appearing in three games, before registering five goals and two assists in 41 contests the following season while primarily playing a checking role. The native of Winnipeg saw action in 12 of Philadelphia’s 18 games during its run to the 2004 Eastern Conference Final and recorded his first career playoff goal while often being one of the club’s most energetic forwards.
That quality may have caught the eye of the Blackhawks, who acquired Sharp — along with Eric Meloche — for Matt Ellison and a 2006 third-round pick during the 2005-06 season. Ellison appeared in a grand total of seven games with the Flyers over two campaigns and spent 2007-08 in the minors before spending the rest of his career playing in Russia and Switzerland.
Needless to say, Chicago got the better of the deal.
Sharp scored 20-plus goals in each of his first seven full seasons with the club before falling four shy of the plateau this past season. He tallied a career-high 36 goals in 2007-08 and eclipsed the 30-goal mark three more times, most recently in 2013-14, when he registered a personal-best 78 points.
Sharp was selected to participate in the All-Star Game in 2010-11 and made the most of the opportunity, recording a goal and two assists while on the losing team to win the Most Valuable Player award. He also earned a spot on Canada’s 2014 Olympic Team, scoring one goal in five tournament games to help his nation capture the gold medal.
While pleased with his regular-season production, the Blackhawks are most appreciative of his playoff performances. Sharp scored at least one goal in each of his first 18 postseason series with Chicago before having that streak come to an end in this year’s conference final against the Anaheim Ducks.
The 33-year-old notched three assists in the series to give him a total of 12 points heading into the Stanley Cup Final matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. That number is the third-highest total of his playoff career, behind a 22-point effort in 2010 and a 16-point output in 2013.
Not so coincidentally, the Blackhawks went on to win the championship in each of those two postseasons. And with a few more points against Tampa Bay, Sharp just might help lead Chicago to its third title in six years.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final just once since shipping Sharp to the Windy City. They lost to his Blackhawks in six games back in 2010. The veteran did his best to stick it to his former team in that matchup, recording four goals — including one in each of the final three contests — and two assists.
Not bad for a player for which Philadelphia felt it had little use.