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 summers of 2019 and 2021 to sitting on his hands the offseasons in between, no matter his approach, it has seemed to never work out as intended. There have been a few wins on an individual level, but there have been some pretty big oversights, too.
Number 5: Missing out on Gaudreau
There are plenty of pros and cons when it came to the Flyers potentially signing 29-year-old Johnny Gaudreau. Did the team really need another aging player locked up long term on a big money contract? No. Did the team desperately need a star forward who had 115 points last season as well as hometown ties to calm an ever-growing angry mob? Yes. It was supposed to be the piece de resistance of the offseason, but instead made Chuck Fletcher look like a complete idiot when he was unable do make the necessary moves to clear that cap for the six-time all-star that just wanted to come home to play hockey with his favorite team.
Number 4: 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 at the 2020 trade deadline. It was 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 their 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 3: 2020 Offseason
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: Tony DeAngleo
The 2022 offseason can be an entire chapter in the downfall of the Flyers organization, but the summer was highlighted by the acquisition of defenseman Tony DeAngelo from Carolina. It was the first addition the Flyers had made, giving up a second round pick, a third round pick and a fourth round pick for his signing rights. A couple days alter he signed a two-year, $5 million aav extension. He addresses a major hole on the powerplay, but thats a huge price to pay for an offensive defenseman… almost like they shouldn’t have paid through the nose to get rid of Shayne Gostisbehere just a year prior. He pissed off most of your fanbase, he goes directly against the “culture” you’re claiming to build, and the assets and cash you gave up for him directly resulted in the Flyers doing nothing else during the 2022 offseason. Some big brain stuff here.
Number 1: Sean Couturier’s extension
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.
Chuck Fletcher tried to properly address the right side of the defense during the 2021 offseason, by way of adding Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen from Nashville and Buffalo respectively. Ellis has missed all but four games with a hip injury since, but Ristolainen has been healthy and contributing throughout the season. He gave up first and second round picks plus Robert Hagg for Ristolainen and he actually played fine hockey more often than not, much to the chagrin of a certain section of the fanbase. But considering he was an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, and the Flyers were almost 40 points out of the playoffs, they probably should’ve traded him at the deadline to recoup some assets but instead signed him to a five-year, $25.5 million extension. The contract itself is fine and his play will probably still be fine, but much like Scott Laughton the year prior, they were probably best just parting ways with the guy and figure out a new plan during the offseason.
Not Pursuing Jack 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 has already returned in Vegas.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com