Top 5: Players the Flyers Could’ve Pursued During Chuck Fletcher’s Tenure

In case you weren’t paying attention, Chuck Fletcher hasn’t exactly done a great job as general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s been at the helm since December of 2018 and has made plenty of questionable acquisitions along the way. But the list of players he has missed out on may be even more impressive. Whether it be general ineptitude, or an inability to get creative enough, here are some of the biggest names the Flyers missed out on during Chuck Fletcher’s tenure as general manager.

Number 5: Alex DeBrincat

The Flyers’ wishlist was rather long heading into the 2022 offseason, and a young, proven goalscorer was at the tippy top. Enter Alex DeBrincat, a 24-year-old winger the Chicago Blackhawks had put on the trade block. He was eventually shipped to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2022 first round pick (7th overall), a 2022 second round pick (39th overall) and a 2024 third round pick. DeBrincat is a point-per-game player for the Senators through the first 31 games of the season and would currently be tied for second in goals and first in points on the Flyers’ roster. Was the price tag too high? Well the next day the Flyers would send three draft picks (2022 4th, 2023 3rd, 2024 2nd) to Carolina in exchange for Tony DeAngelo while putting their hopes and dreams into drafting Cutter Gauthier, ya know, hoping he ever becomes as good as DeBrincat.

Number 4: Patrik Laine

When then-22-year-old sniper Patrik Laine hit the trade block with the Winnipeg Jets in 2020, the Flyers sniffed around, but ultimately turned their nose up at a deal. It was eventually rumored that the Jets were asking Ivan Provorov in return, a price tag the Flyers deemed too high at the time, mixed with the lack of contractual commitment Laine had. Fast forward to the 2023 offseason the Flyers get ready to potentially deal Ivan Provorov stuck in a flat cap era with a bonehead like Chuck Fletcher making the negotiations. Wouldn’t it have just been easier dealing him a few years ago for a proven goal scorer when there was a comparable value? Maybe the Flyers can get a decent return for Provorov this time around… but maybe not.

Number 3: Johnny Gaudreau

We could argue all day long whether signing Johnny Gaudreau to a seven-year, $68 million contract was the right move for the franchise or not, but you can’t tell me it didn’t sting just a little when it was announced he signed with Columbus. Years of teasing a reunion with his hometown team, a squad currently starved for talent, that came right down to the wire, and in typical Flyers fashion they grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. He’s got 10 goals and 34 points in 33 games on a team that’s quite possibly worse than the Flyers, mainly due to insanely bad injury luck. Fletcher robbed the fans of not only a fan favorite player that would’ve put asses in seats, but it was criminal for a team that produces as little offense as the Flyers to turn their noses up at a 115-point forward.

Number 2: Sam Reinhart

Reinhart was a player the Flyers could’ve, and very well should’ve pursued during 2021. The Flyers made a deal with the Sabres for Rasmus Ristolainen just days before Reinhart ultimately got dealt to the Florida Panthers. Reinhart, a 25-year-old forward that was oozing with talent on a very bad Buffalo squad, can play either center or wing. Unsurprisingly, he went on to score 33 goals and 82 points in 78 games for the Panthers last season after signing a reasonable three-year $19.5 million extension shortly after being acquired. The Flyers dealt first and second round picks plus Robert Hagg for Ristolainen. The Panthers snagged Reinhart for goalie prospect Devon Levi and a 2022 first round pick. You’re telling me if Chuck Fletcher wasn’t a complete idiot he couldn’t have finessed a deal to land Reinhart as well?

Number 1: Jack Eichel

The one thing the Flyers need more than anything else is a young, talented, offensively dynamic center and they had a chance when Jack Eichel became available after a very public feud with the Sabres front office throughout 2021. He was a point-per-game player in all of his five seasons with the Sabres. Ironically, if the hesitation boiled down to his neck injury, Joel Farabee underwent a very similar procedure during the 2022 offseason. Eichel put up 14 goals and 25 points in 34 games in his return from surgery, and has scored 13 goals and 29 points in 27 contests in 2022-23. Vegas acquired Eichel for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, 2022 first, 2023 second pick. A middle-six forward with a bit of upside, a prospect that is so far rather underwhelming and two draft picks. It’s a price tag that was significantly less than expected and would’ve been worth the investment for the Flyers, who still don’t have that franchise center to build around.

Honorable mentions

Dougie Hamilton

The Flyers were in the right-handed defense market in 2021 and ultimately opted to acquire Ryan Ellis via trade, the older, cheaper option, instead of signing Dougie Hamilton in free agency. The Flyers got all of four games out of Ellis before he more or less retired, meanwhile Hamilton is a staple in a very successful Devils squad. $9 million is a steep price for a 28-year-old, but would you rather pay $9 million for a healthy productive player or $6.25 million for Ellis to sit on his couch for the next four years?

Dylan Strome

Dylan Strome certainly isn’t the most impressive name on this list, but it should’ve been such an obvious signing that the Flyers didn’t even consider. A 25-year-old center that shows decent upside should’ve been on the radar during 2022, but nope. Instead they opted to run it back once again with Sean Couturier, Morgan Frost and Kevin Hayes, and we’ve seen the results that’s brought, meanwhile the Capitals signed Strome to a one-year, $3.5 million contract (and he’s still an RFA) and he’s put up 26 points in 37 games centering their top line. Such an obvious move they ignored in favor of Nic Deslauriers.

Alex Pietrangleo

When 30-year-old right-handed defenseman Alex Pietrangelo hit the free agent market in 2020, he would’ve been a prime target for the Flyers in their hunt for a top RHD. The rumors were vague on this one, but apparently the Flyers did attempt to throw their hat in the ring, but were denied pretty quickly by Pietrangelo, because, ya know, nobody wants to play here anymore thanks to the masterpiece Fletcher has put on the ice.

Matthew Tkachuk

Now, the price tag the Florida Panthers ended up paying for Matthew Tkachuk is something the Flyers couldn’t even have considered doing, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that a player of Tkachuk’s caliber was available and didn’t end up in orange and black. He may be the most prototypical Flyers in the league today and would’ve been an instant fan favorite as well as their top player on the ice. He’s got 40 points in 32 games this season to go along with 57 penalty minutes and he just turned 25 years old in early December. The Flyers couldn’t match the price, but maybe that speaks to the current state of the organization where they can’t even enter trade negotiations because the talent within the organization is so scarce.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: nhl.com

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