The pseudo-rebuild the Philadelphia Flyers have entered to fix their previous failed Hextall-era rebuild has so far gotten off on the right foot under head coach John Tortorella. But considering the real lack of offensive talent on the roster partnered with a general manager who is rather gun shy and not very good at his job to begin with, one has to wonder what the current timeline the Flyers are dealing with when it comes to the team becoming a legitimate playoff threat once again.
The Flyers opened the 2022-23 season preaching accountability and development, and even though they’re less than ten games into the season, John Tortorella has stuck to those guns. Once they get further into the season, both the veteran’s and rookie’s role will start to shake out in the wash and by season’s end, the team will have a pretty good idea who is and isn’t cut out to be a Flyer.
Theoretically, that means Chuck Fletcher can dump all the unworthy players and use their freed up money to add proven talent during the offseason then next season is all about re-establishing the organization as a perennial playoff contender.
If Tortorella holds up his end of the bargain, which so far he has, the pressure will be in Fletcher to overhaul the roster and actually ice an NHL-caliber team. Which, ya know, feels like a major snag in the plans.
On paper, it sounds easy enough, but it’s fairly difficult to believe the execution will be that flawless.
The Flyers don’t have much money entering the 2023 offseason even if the cap does get its expected $4 million boost. It means that Fletcher will have no choice but to be actively shopping expensive players and willing to meet the price to clear some serious cash to dip his toes into the free agent pool to begin with.
But after the 2022 offseason, which was supposed to be about adding talent, but Fletcher balked at adding Alex DeBrincat and Johnny Gaudreau because he couldn’t find an easy taker for James Van Riemsdyk, considering the 2023 summer will be essentially the same task, how can anyone trust Fletcher to magically bite the bullet and meet any asking price teams put forward for guys like Kevin Hayes or Travis Konecny?
For the most part, fans have accepted the current state of the team. A few surprise wins early in the season helps swallow that pill, but also most people just wanted some semblance of a plan, and the organization finally gave it to them (despite flat out lying to their faces during the days leading up to the offseason).
The thing is, fans may be willing to buy in to a lackluster product this season, but it’s important the front office doesn’t test their luck with this one. After Ron Hextall’s endless rebuild resulted in nothing but wasted time, Fletcher really can’t extend this “retool” beyond the 2022-23 season without a serious fan backlash, and this organization can’t take another mass exodus of paying customers.
Even if they don’t compose a Stanley Cup roster next season, palpable progress will have to be made during the offseason and the record needs to improve next season. They just can’t run it back once again with a nearly identical roster for the umpteenth year in a row.
Now, the tired, beat to death slogan of “2 or 3 years away” is always a difficult answer to hear, but it could very well be the case this time. If the next 12 months are executed properly, the team can be composed of sturdy youngsters led by a few new faces of veteran stars.
For the first time since the early days of the Hextall era, there actually appears to be some kind of guiding light. There is still skepticism from the fans, but the front office very much did that to themselves with their miserable handling of the last 24 months or so, but so far Tortorella has done pretty much everything right and it’s a breath of fresh air. Maybe the Flyers do have some kind of actual plan in place, but we move forward with some very tentative steps as they have to earn that trust back as they look to re-establish the Philadelphia Flyers to their once-great legacy.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sportingnews.com