“It can’t possibly get worse, right?” A phrase utter by Flyers fans over the last few years right before things continue to get worse. Every time it feels like rock bottom as been reached, it turns out the bottomless pit is opening deeper and deeper. Some moves are bad luck, others are painfully obvious blunders the inept front office refuses to acknowledge, but the path towards further irrelevancy is paved by continued, repeated mistakes that aren’t deemed important enough to change.
Number 5: Keep Konecny past the trade deadline
More than any other player on the roster, it is the hardest to believe Travis Konecny survived the offseason. His lackluster play combined with the log jam at right wing made him a prime candidate to get shipped out of town during the 2022 offseason, but alas, he’s back for his seventh NHL season in orange and black. But the odds are not in his favor when it comes to locking down a roster spot this season. With guys like Wade Allison, Tyson Foerster, Bobby Brink and Owen Tippett breathing down his neck looking for NHL ice time, Konecny is going to have to play the best hockey of his career if he plans on fending off the youngsters. Even if his play is at the acceptable line this season, His $5.5 million cap hit for two more seasons is an unnecessary burden to carry. He’s been a prime trade candidate for the last few seasons, and if he doesn’t bring his absolute best in 2022-23, it’s time to finally move on.
Number 4: Extending Sanheim
When this rumor emerged a few weeks ago, the natural reaction was to yell “OF COURSE” at the top of my lungs simply because it’s a move that makes no sense. For some reason, the current regime loves to hold on to mediocre players forever. Do you have skate and know how to hold a stick? Great! Here’s a 6x$6 contract!
Fletcher has failed to capitalize on any pending free agents over the last few seasons, opting to re-sign the likes of Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton and Rasmus Ristolainen instead of moving them at a trade deadline for an extra asset or two. Now the organization is back in salary cap hell, thanks in part to keeping these middling players on stupid contracts. It’s already going to take years to figure this mess out, don’t add on to it by signing yet another easily replaceable vet.
They’ve got Cam York and Egor Zamula internally on the left side, who can snag NHL roster spots sooner rather than later and a few guys like Emil Andrae and Linus Hogberg potentially on the horizon. Just do the organization a favor and don’t re-sign Travis Sanheim, please.
Number 3: Continue to Refuse to Add Outside Centers
Ever since the Flyers parted ways with Brayden Schenn in 2017, the front office of two different regimes have refused to add any serious center depth during free agency or via trade. Kevin Hayes is the only even kind of notable addition, and even that was back in 2019. Now with Sean Couturier back on the shelf with a herniated disc, the shallow center depth will once again be exposed, setting up the team for failure before they even get out of the gate. The organization is transitioning both Cutter Gauthier and Elliot Desnoyers to centers, but it’s a gamble and neither are NHL ready for at least another season. Priority number one during the 2023 offseason has to be adding at least one worthwhile center, probably two or three to be safe, but at that point they pissed away another full season paying for the mistakes of Chuck Fletcher. Maybe this will be the year they finally learn.
Number 2: Refusing to Play the Kids in 2022-23
There’s something insane about the franchise selling a youth movement, then being terrified to actually give the kids NHL ice time to see if they sink or swim. As noted in the Konecny entry, the fact that no veterans were shipped out of town means there are limited roster spots available, and a new coach that hates fun is running the ship.
Theoretically, guys like Wade Allison, Owen Tippett and eventually Bobby Brink will all push for ice time and vets like Travis Konecny and Cam Atkinson will all have to fend off the impending rush. If they younger guys play better than the older players, do they get the promotion and proper ice time?
This should be an easy “yeah, no duh” kind of moment, but when was the last time the Flyers successfully transitioned a young player into the NHL?
Number 1: Keep Chuck Fletcher in Charge
How this fool is still collecting a paycheck after the bang up job he did during the offseason is incredible. But as long as he’s still in charge, the direct path into the iceberg will continue. With the keys to the castle, it’s very possible entry three and four both come to fruition which would be a disaster for the long-term outlook of the team.
The quicker this team fails the quicker he gets relieved of his duties. Unless this team experiences some kind of historic, unexpected renaissance this season, keeping Fletcher around when his fate already seems to be sealed just amplifies the opportunity for disasters he can commit on the way out.
Is this one unlikely? Yes. Does it haunt my nightmares because it’s such on-brand stupidity that it’s easy to picture the organization actually doing it? Also yes.
This current incarnation of the Philadelphia Flyers doesn’t move on from players. Like, ever. In fact, they just failed to move the last year of his salary because Fletcher was curled up in the fetal position under his desk after other GMs were too mean to him and refused to take his contract.
JVR may be totally ineffective on a game-by-game basis, but from a production standpoint, he may be one of the most consistent players on the team. If healthy, which he is more often than not, he’s good for about 20 goals and 40 points. For an anemic offensive squad like the Flyers, the stats could be enticing enough to keep around on a much more team friendly contract. Don’t believe he’s gone until he’s gone.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: stock.adobe.com