PHILADELPHIA – Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, key players in the Philadelphia Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup finals a year ago, were involved in separate stunning trades Thursday that shook up the franchise on the eve of the NHL draft.

The moves cleared needed salary-cap space for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who signed a multiyear contract later in the day, the Flyers announced. TSN reported it was a $51 million, nine-year deal.

Philadelphia acquired the rights to Bryzgalov, 31, earlier this month in a deal with the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Flyers moved more than $100 million in salary in Thursday’s deals that sent Richards to the Los Angeles Kings and Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Richards and Carter still had years remaining on monster contracts: Richards has nine years left on a 12-year extension he signed in 2007, and Carter agreed in November to a $58 million, 11-year deal.

Richards was traded for forwards Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, and a second-round pick, and the Flyers acquired forward Jake Voracek and first- and third-round draft picks from the Blue Jackets.

“Those are two hard phone calls to make,” said Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren. “I think the world of both of them. That’s difficult. That’s the hard part of the job.”

Holmgren said there were no real talks about trading either player until they acquired Bryzgalov.

Philadelphia won the Atlantic Division title last season with 106 points but was swept in the second round by the Boston Bruins, who eventually won the Stanley Cup.

The Flyers’ postseason run was short-lived because of problems in goal. In the 11-game postseason, Philadelphia used three goaltenders with little success: Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton.

Bryzgalov would help to solve that problem, but Philadelphia paid a steep price.

Richards, 26, spent the last three seasons as team captain. He had 133 goals and 216 assists in 453 games since making his debut with the Flyers in 2005.

“We felt, at this stage of the franchise, it was time to make a significant move for an impact player,” Kings President and GM Dean Lombardi said. “Mike Richards is not only one of the top players in the league, he’s also universally recognized as one of the finer leaders in the game and one of its elite competitors.”

Richards had 66 points this season. A year ago, he led the Flyers in points (62) and was second in goals (31) while leading the Flyers within two victories of their first championship since 1975.

Richards said he was shocked when he learned of the trade. He became emotional when he talked with Holmgren.

“It wasn’t a long conversation,” he said, “but it was one I didn’t think I’d ever have to do.”

Richards said he wanted to stay a Flyer the rest of his career and never would have signed that long-term deal had he known he would have been traded.

Carter, 26, has 181 goals in six full seasons in the NHL, all with the Flyers. He has had 46, 33 and 36 the last three seasons.

2011-12 SCHEDULE: The Boston Bruins will begin defense of their Stanley Cup title against the Philadelphia Flyers as part of an opening-night tripleheader on Oct. 6.

The NHL announced its schedule for the 2011-12 season on the day off between the league’s awards ceremony that took place Wednesday in Las Vegas and the draft that begins today.

Winnipeg, the new home of the former Atlanta Thrashers, returns to the NHL on Oct. 9 when the still unnamed team hosts Montreal.

The New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks will start their seasons over two days in Europe. A total of four games will be played in Stockholm, Helsinki and Berlin.

The Bruins will host the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 7 in the only meeting of the season between the Stanley Cup finalists.

SALARY CAP: The league salary cap is going up for the fifth consecutive year. Teams will have $64.3 million to spend next season, an increase from $59.4 million, the league and the NHL Players’ Association said.

SHARKS: San Jose signed forward Devin Setoguchi to a $9 million, three-year contract to prevent him from becoming a restricted free agent next month.

CANADIENS: Andrei Markov signed a three-year, $17.25 million contract to stay with Montreal through the 2013-14 season. The deal will keep his yearly salary of $5.75 million unchanged from his last contract.