It was a trade made out of necessity. The Flyers blue line corps was a mess from injuries to top players Eric Desjardins, out with a fractured forearm, and Dennis Seidenberg, out with a fractured left leg.
With other defenseman with expiring contracts at the end of 2004, GM Bob Clarke made a trade with Carolina for defenseman Danny Markov.
The price was former first-round pick, struggling right winger Justin Williams.
At the time, the Flyers were kind of held over a barrel. With injuries and a good team that could make a deep run into the playoffs, they needed a quality, "top four" defender. In the case of Williams, he had regressed under coach Ken Hitchcock and Carolina was looking to get younger talent in return.
Other young players and prospects the Flyers had at the time; Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Kirby Law and Patrick Sharp – were seemingly off-limits.
Markov did fit well with the Flyers and really excelled in the 2003-04 playoff run. For his regular season, he played in 34 games with an even plus/minus, while chipping in two goals and three assists.
In the playoff run that ended in a grueling seven-game series at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Markov played in 18 games, adding three more points but playing to a plus-17, which led the team. After the complete loss of the 2004-05 season to the NHL lockout, Markov was traded to Nashville in August 2005 for a 2006 third-round pick.
And as for Williams; he has gone on to, well, like most ex-Flyers, win the Stanley Cup a few times.
His trade to the Hurricanes allowed the 22-year-old to look at things with a different perspective. In 32 games in Carolina, Williams recorded 18 points. Then the NHL lockout hit and he went to play for Lulea HF in Sweden for a season. He returned to Carolina in 2005-06.
That team caught fire under coach Peter Laviolette and won 52 games. They were led by Eric Staal, Erik Cole and another former Flyer, Rod Brind’Amour, in addition to Williams himself. Making the franchise's second ever Stanley Cup Final appearance, they defeated the Edmonton Oilers in the seven games to claim the first Stanley Cup in the franchise's history.
After spending a few more seasons in Carolina, he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in March of 2009. Once he settled in with the Kings, he, along with former Flyers Carter, Richards and Simon Gagne, lifted the cup in 2012 (Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne). At 30, an NHL career of winning the Cup twice isn’t too shabby.
So just for good measure, he and the Kings did it once again, winning in 2014.
This season, Williams, now 35, is enjoying another solid year but on a new team. He signed a two-year deal with the Washington Capitals this summer, and even his son Jaxon had a part in it. Well, sort of…
From an article in the Washington Post, Justin’s son stated "If we don’t go back to L.A, you should play with Ovechkin, because he’s the best."
The kid has a future in a front office somewhere.
The addition of Williams, along with acquiring T.J Oshie from St. Louis, has added a different element to the Capitals this year that they didn't have in years’ past. After 46 games, Williams has 16 goals, which is only two behind his entire total for last season. If he were to hit the 23-goal mark, it would be his highest output in nearly a decade.
The Capitals currently lead the NHL with 35 wins and have played exceptional hockey so far this year. If they were to keep this momentum up into the playoffs, Williams may just find himself lifting the Cup for a fourth time.
Mike Watson is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Mwats_99.