Chuck Fletcher has been at the helm of the Philadelphia Flyers since December 3, 2018 and has been on quite the roller coaster since. From a whirlwind of moves during the summer of 2021 to sitting on his hands the offseason prior, no matter his approach, it has seemed to never work out as intended. There have been plenty of wins on an individual level, but there have been some pretty big oversights, too.
Number 5: Not Pursuing Eichel
There may have been a certain site (us) that wrote multiple pieces about the Flyers paying up for Eichel, who was on the outs in Buffalo after a situation about his injured neck forced an already ugly relationship to end. Whether or not the Flyers were ever in on Eichel may never be known, but a 25-year-old franchise center is pretty high on the Flyers’ wishlist these days and they could’ve gotten him for a fairly decent price based on what the Vegas Golden Knights gave up for him. Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch, and a first and second round picks were the price tag on the superstar forward, a value the Flyers could’ve seemingly easily matched if they really wanted. Considering how badly the Flyers need an offensively dynamic top center, ignoring the one guy who actually became available isn’t a great look. The surgery was not nearly as severe as many originally thought and he is already cleared to play in Vegas.
Number 3: 2020 Trade Deadline
Right before the world went to hell thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the stars were starting to align for the Philadelphia Flyers. After a hot and cold start to the season, the team went on a nine-game win streak, and in the middle of that streak came the trade deadline and the Flyers walked away with Derek Grant and Nate Thompson. A relatively disappointing deadline considering they were gaining momentum. Instead of capitalizing on a hot streak Fletcher opted to cheap out and find replacement-level depth players.
It’s pretty clear in hindsight that the 2020 trade deadline should’ve been go-time and a real solution to the depth center needs should’ve been acquired. Players like J.G. Pageau, Tyler Toffoli or Vincent Trocheck would’ve been smarter additions that could’ve potentially helped push the Flyers from a second round team to legitimate contender.
Number 4: The Summer of Gustafsson
The summer of 2020 was definitely a misstep, but it may not be all Chuck Fletcher’s fault. The Flyers had just made it to game seven of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the furthest they’ve been since 2012 and were a pretty hot team before the pandemic struck in March of 2020. Flyers opted to stay very quite during the offseason, relying on returning forwards Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick as in-house acquisitions and signed sketchy defenseman Erik Gustafsson (no, not that one) to a one-year deal. The Flyers weren’t able to rekindle the fire they had in 2019-20 and nosedived down the standings. If they were more proactive during the summer and continued to make real additions to the core of that team, the outcome may have been different. Though, Fletcher may not have been the guy with the final say. It’s possible Dave Scott, chairman of the Philadelphia Flyers, told Fletcher to be stingy in spending cash. They were, after all, in a pandemic where there were no fans in the Wells Fargo for a full season. Ironically enough, now there’s no fans in the Wells Fargo Center by choice because the team is so bad because they weren’t proactive enough.
Number 2: Ignoring 3C
Year after year the Flyers have struggled with their center depth. So when the flurry of moves Fletcher made during the 2021 offseason seemed to address everything but a realistic third line center, it felt like a huge oversight that would eventually bite them. Well it absolutely did. Not only did all three top centers, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, and Derick Brassard, all miss significant time with injury, that wasn’t exactly a threatening trio to begin with. Hopefully Fletcher learned his lesson and spend the 2022 offseason reinvigorating the team’s center depth, but it won’t be an easy feat. Which leads us to…
Number 1: The Sean Couturier Contract
Yes, Sean Couturier is a very good, Selke-winning hockey player, but the timing of his contract extension came at a bad time. Signing his eight-year, $62 million extension just a few months before his 29th birthday is a huge risk for the Flyers. Signing aging players to massive contract never works out well, and the pros and cons weren’t exactly in his favor. Though the gamble of returning to a competitive roster and Couturier playing well enough to make at least a few years of the extension worth it ended up backfiring in their face. Now, as the team collapsed yet again, the Flyers went from an 29-year-old Selke winner on an expiring $4.3 million deal as a massive trade chip at the deadline to an injured, slow, 29-year-old with a $62 million anchor attached to his waist. Just a horrible miscalculation that quite frankly Fletcher probably should’ve seen coming.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com