The 2021 Philadelphia Flyers offseason saw the single biggest overhaul a Flyers roster has seen since the summer of 2007. Even though the grades were originally favorable, the disaster that was the 2021-22 season has made fans look back on Chuck Fletcher’s busy summer in anger. With a full season to assess his moves, were they really as bad as they seemed?
Acquiring Ryan Ellis
We all knew adding Ryan Ellis would be a huge addition to the blue line, but were fully aware of his injury history as well. It was weighing the options of a cheaper injury-prone veteran in Ellis versus a younger, more expensive defenseman like Dougie Hamilton. The Flyers opted for Ellis and immediately felt the wrath of his injuries. He played in just four games during the 2021-22 season, sitting on the sidelines with an undisclosed lower-body injury. The fact he hasn’t undergone surgery yet, over five months after the original diagnosis, has led the speculation to fly when it comes to his future availability. Maybe cheaping out will bite them in the ass harder than they expected for years to come. Hindsight seems to be 20/20 on this one.
Trading Shayne Gostisbehere
Fans are feeling the seller’s remorse of dealing Ghost to the Coyotes over the summer, but there’s more than meets the eye to this one. He’s on pace for the second best offensive output of his career, the things fans often focus on, but his defensive abilities are still lackluster and his overall game is still weak. The Flyers’ struggles, especially on the powerplay, have really exacerbated his absence, but the reality is things wouldn’t be that much better if he were here. The fact they tried to give him away for free twice last year, once on waivers and once at the expansion draft, really hurt any remaining trade value he had.
Acquiring Rasmus Ristolainen
Much to the chagrin of portions of the fanbase, Rasmus Ristolainen has been decent addition to the Flyers’ blueline. He has developed great chemistry with Travis Sanheim and the two have both been better players because of it. His contract extension made fans fall in hate with him all over again, but with limited options in the defensive market this coming offseason, there were very few options to replace him. He’ll be the scapegoat for the foreseeable future, but financially isn’t impacting the team and can play at least average hockey more often than not.
Voracek for Atkinson
Jake Voracek’s decade-long run in Philadelphia came to an end at the 2021 draft when he was dealt back to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Cam Atkinson. The move itself had many layers to it, but it was mainly done to free up cap space for the Flyers, ditching Voracek’s $8.25 cap hit in favor of Atkinson’s more palatable $5.8 million.
Atkinson has far and away been the Flyers’ best forward this season, being the only player to break to the 20-goal and 50-point plateau. Ultimately, the deal has worked out well for both teams for various reasons so it’s hard to complain about this one.
This move was a flat out disaster on the ice with Yandle rocking a -41 rating, and when the Flyers ended his ironman streak in early April, the negative media surrounding the decision was a disaster off the ice as well. He may be Kevin Hayes’ best friend, but the circus that has ensued this season wasn’t worth the price of admission.
Of all the additions, Jones seemed to pose the biggest question mark and ended up being a tale of two faces this season. At times, mainly early, he played very well in limited minutes, but after the new year, he was bottom five in the league in save percentage. While it’s hard to solely put the blame on him for the lackluster results, he didn’t exactly stand on his head most of the season, unlike his counterpart Carter Hart, who had success despite the awful team around him.
The man fans love to hate for absolutely no reason missed a vast majority of the season recovering from injury. He’s a fourth liner averaging just 11 minutes of ice time a night, he didn’t make a difference one way or another.
Aside from the fact that he tried and failed to return from the same injury four separate times, Brassard was actually a functional member of the team when healthy. He wasn’t without his faults, especially defensively, but for a 34-year-old league minimum free agent signing, he did his job well, not to mention he centered one of the hottest lines in the season along with Farabee and Atkinson. Had Brassard spent the full season healthy, he could’ve been a sneaky good addition.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)