Chuck Fletcher had some decisions to make this past offseason. After a monumental letdown of a season during the 2020-21 season, Fletcher could’ve either sold off a lot of assets that had/have value and try to go into a full, real, rebuild that really hasn’t been done in the 50+ years of Flyers’ existence or go out and get players and try to make this team better. Fletcher did the latter and shipped out Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hägg, Nolan Patrick, Phil Myers, and Jake Voracek along with some draft picks for Rasmus Ristolainen, Cam Atkinson, and Ryan Ellis. Derrick Brassard, Keith Yandle, and Martin Jones were signed to help this team as well and it looked like we were poised to see a different Flyers team, and then injuries came. Hayes and Allison both started the season on the IR/LTIR then Ellis joined them. The season seemed like a new team, but lately, it’s been the same old which has some fans believing it is time for a rebuild. Here are some pros and cons to a rebuild.
There are players with enough value to get a lot of draft capital. Giroux would be one name that is probably gone. It would be sad to see him leave Philly without a Cup, but Giroux will probably get at least a first round pick on the trade market. A guy like Ristolainen could get a decent return, especially with how the D market can get around the trade deadline, I mean David Savard got Columbus a first rounder last season.
Some great prospects are coming up. At the top of these two drafts are exceptional status players with Shane Wright headlining this upcoming 2022 draft class and Connor Bedard headlining the 2023 draft class. Guys like Brad Lambert, Matthew Savoie, and Simon Nemec are all good prospects this upcoming year. In 2023 the top two are going to be insane. Not only is Connor Bedard looking like one of the next hockey superstars, but there is a Russian sniper in the same draft class in Matvei Michkov who could be the next Ovechkin, and boy would I love a generational sniper.
The Flyers already have a goalie. Carter Hart came back with something to prove, and he has proven that he is an elite goalie. At 23, Carter Hart is showing amazing promise and makes it easier to build a team for when he hits his prime in like 4-5 years. We don’t need to worry about getting a goalie of the future anymore.
There are guys that can lead and are already in the system. Players like Ivan Provorov, Joel Farabee, and Cam York will most likely stay for the rebuild, if there is one. Provorov can stay as a leader in the locker room along with some of the guys who will be older like Joel Farabee and Cam York.
Here’s probably the best-case scenario. We get first overall pick in 2022 and select Shane Wright, and then we package some other assets and get Simon Nemec, an elite RHD. Then in 2023 we get the second overall pick and get an amazing sniper in Matvei Michkov. A franchise centerman, an elite RHD, and a generational sniper within two years would be amazing, but like I said it would be best-case scenario in the next two years.
Let’s get an obvious one out of the way, we will suck. We’re gonna lose games, that’s generally how rebuilds work. It’s gonna take patience from a fanbase that has already waited for something for about a decade.
High draft picks don’t always pan out. Sometimes high draft picks don’t always bring what we hope. We just saw what happened with Nolan Patrick. We’ve seen first overall picks leave the NHL less than 10 years after being drafted in Nail Yakupov. The Devils and Rangers both haven’t had the best outcomes so far from getting high draft picks all at once, and even that has left something to be desired.
There’s always the chance that we go into a really long rebuild and suck for a long time. We’ve seen it with the Buffalo Sabres, sometimes things just don’t work out at all.
The Flyers don’t really have the best success with the draft lottery. Back in 2007, they had the best odds to get Patrick Kane, but lost the draft lottery and had to settle for second and take JVR. They did have some luck in 2017 moving up 11 spots to pick #2, but I mentioned that before.
What to do with guys like Couturier and Ellis? This isn’t an easy question to answer. You probably keep one or both to provide some sort of structure for the team. Ellis has seen many young, great defensemen enter the league during his time in Nashville, he could definitely help our young defensive prospects while remaining a leader on the team. Coots can do the same thing, although Couturier hasn’t looked like a guy we should be paying $7.75 mil this season. Hopefully, he gets enough of it back to stay the elite two-way player we know he can be.
What to Really Take From All This
Just like every decision, a rebuild is a risk. We’ve seen successful rebuilds in Tampa Bay, Chicago, and Colorado. There are some promising teams just getting out of rebuilds like Detroit, Ottawa, and LA. But we have also seen rebuilds that aren’t going so smoothly like New Jersey, who still has time to kick it up a notch, Arizona, and Buffalo. Personally, I’ve been advocating for a rebuild for a while. Before Chuck traded for Ryan Ellis, I thought the rebuild was best right now. My tune changed after the changes this offseason, but now I’m close to wanting it again. There are some really good prospects in these upcoming drafts, some that seemingly can’t be ruined. Ultimately, Chuck and upper management get the final say in that, and they probably want to see what this team can do with a fully healthy Hayes and Ellis first, but that could be too late.
By Noah Caplan (@Phlyers24 and @NoahlyPod)
photo creds: nhl.com