When Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher took the stand for his end-of-season press conference, he touched on various topics. Mike Yeo will not return as coach, Samuel Morin’s retirement, and giving us a sneak peak about what kind of offseason to expect this summer.
When asked about the direction he would be taking, Fletcher replied with “a little bit of both” in reference to a potential rebuild or retool.
He cited the 2019 offseason as a base for this summer. For a refresher, he traded a fifth round pick for Kevin Hayes’ rights then signed him to a new deal, he dealt Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen, then unloaded a pair of draft picks in exchange for Justin Braun. Those moves all helped the team get better without significantly impacting the assets or prospect pool for the team.
It’s the answer nobody really wanted to hear. The fans would’ve preferred a clear, precise direction, but at the end of the day, it’s not particularly the wrong answer.
The Flyers aren’t going to rebuild. They’re not going to tear down and Buffalo Sabres themselves for the next decade or longer. But there’s no reason to panic sign someone like Nazim Kadri during a very shallow free agent market either. They’re just not close enough to success to warrant a big contract to an aging player in the middle of a deceitfully good season.
What should happen is simple- start to make significant changes to your current roster. The veterans who have underperformed, or just aren’t capable of carrying the team by themselves, like Travis Konency, Ivan Provorov, Oskar Lindblom and others should be green-lit to be traded. Instead of trading them individually, package them together to land a star, someone like Matthew Tkachuk, Mitch Marner or Alex DeBrincat, all potentially available this summer.
Once they’ve moved on from some of the veterans in favor of a couple new young stars, then integrate the kids already in the system. Owen Tippett, Tyson Foerster, Wade Allison, Tanner Laczynski, Noah Cates, Bobby Brink among others can all get legitimate NHL ice time to finally get a feel for the type of players they are. Some will sink, but others will swim. If you acquire a top player like Matthew Tkachuk, then insulate him with young guys on the rise, they’re actively making additions to improve the current team, but they’re also building for the future too.
If they follow this, then roll into next season with no real expectations. If they perform well and the young guys all take big steps forward potentially earning a playoff spot, great! If it’s a year filled with growing pains, then they still get a high pick in the stacked 2023 draft and sort out which home-grown youngsters may or may not be apart of the future.
And to look one full year into the future, imagine this team snags Tkachuk and DeBrincat this offseason and Foerster, Allison, Brink and Frost all develop nicely during the 2022-23 campaign but the team still overall struggles. They land another top five pick in 2023, then go into an insanely deep 2023 free agency featuring names such as Patrick Kane, David Pastrnak, Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly, Dylan Larkin, Nathan MacKinnon, Max Pacioretty, Timo Meier, Jonathan Huberdeau, J.T. Miller, Tyler Bertuzzi, and that’s just scratching the surface.
Not all of them will make it to free agency, obviously, but a couple of them will. For fun, say the Flyers manage to snag Dylan Larkin and Jonathan Huberdeau as well.
Tell me that potential lineup doesn’t put a smile on your face.
There’s nothing Fletcher can say that will appease the entire collective fanbase right now. But as usual during these press conferences, he speaks like a man that is fully aware of the flaws on the team without verbally hitting the panic button one way or the other. The scenario laid out above is clearly on the fantasy side of things, but the overall approach, especially for this summer, shouldn’t be too difficult of a concept to pull off.
It’s time for change in Philadelphia. Nobody wants to watch the exact same team run back for yet another season. It’s a bold plan, but adding a couple legitimately good players in their early 20’s and embracing the youth already on your roster paints a much brighter picture in the near future than giving big money to a veteran who will quickly become an albatross or hoping one of the players on the current roster will finally step up almost a decade into their career. The retool or rebuild argument has raged on for months now, but now that the offseason is here and the draft and free agency are on the horizon, it’ll soon be time to see what Chuck Fletcher has up his sleeve to salvage the Philadelphia Flyers.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: inquirer.com