The day after an underwhelming trade deadline, the Flyers took their fifth 6-1 loss of the season and if the wind wasn’t out of the sails before, it certainly is now. On top of all that the Bruins beat the Sabres and have hit 50 points on the season, six more than the Flyers with just 14 games left. They are still a couple weeks from being mathematically eliminated, but it’s officially a lost season, folks. Now it’s time to look ahead to the offseason, but the sinking feeling of a bleak summer is hard to shake.
Chuck Fletcher had a very “blah” trade deadline. He did sell two players on expiring deals in Michael Raffl and Erik Gustafsson, though received mediocre returns in a fifth and seventh round pick respectively. It was the absolute bare minimum Fletcher had to do. He spent the rest of the day working on re-signing Scott Laughton to an excessive five-year deal, which came down to the literal eleventh hour. Then he proceeded to delay his media appearance by over an hour, probably to take a nap to recoup from the hardest day of work he’s put in since last year’s trade deadline.
So here we are, another wasted season in the books and clinging to a dream that this will be the offseason where everything changes. A few weeks back we looked at Fletcher’s history at the trade deadline and were thoroughly disappointed, and he kept his personal streak of lackluster deadline’s afloat this season, but now the question becomes what do we really expect him to do this summer?
He’s already said he doesn’t plan on firing the coaches, which I tend to agree with, but that means the roster players should be in Fletcher’s sights as he gets ready to torpedo this listless ship. But will he? He has relied on the flat salary cap and expansion draft as excuses for the lack of changes, well both will still be a factor for at least part of the offseason. If he doesn’t clear the proper cap space during the expansion draft, he’ll be even more constricted than he would be if it was just a flat cap.
The main target should be a top defenseman, and quite frankly replacing at least half the warm corpses on the blueline, but finding a top guy won’t be cheap or easy. Dougie Hamilton, if he hits the free agent market, will command a huge price tag as the only top guy in the pool this year, and a trade for another player already on a roster won’t be cheap.
Gutting the forward group which has been together since the pigs ate my brother should also be high on the priority list, yet there lies another major question mark. The group currently consists of high paid vets or overvalued underperforming younger players. Two of the most undesirable categories out there.
There is an obscene amount of work for Fletcher to do this summer and with his personal lackluster trade record and his “bias for action” being about as accurate as saying I’d enjoy a Playboy house party, there just flat out feels like there’s no hope or light at the end of the tunnel. Guess all we can do is sit on our thumbs and wait for Fletcher to pull his out and do some damn work.
Keith Jones summed it up best on Postgame Live last night-
“This is a team that didn’t want it as bad as their opponents and have put themselves and their general manager in a position where he couldn’t go out and add to the nucleus of the team right now. It’s too big of a deal he has to make. It’s not a simple add a player at the deadline and fix this thing, this is a team that’s in need of a major makeover. This is not something you fix overnight, it’s not something you fix in a week, this is something I don’t think any of us saw coming before the drop of the puck on opening night. This season has turned into a disaster.“
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
This isn’t the first late night rage article I’ve had to write this season, but hey, at least there are just 14 games left. They can’t all be blowouts, can they? We all need a few months away from this nonsense.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcnews.com