Chuck Fletcher Moves That Have Aged Best and Worst

There are two types of general managers in the NHL, the ones that aren’t afraid to do what’s best for business at all costs, and the ones who are terrified to make the hard calls, opting instead to take the path of least resistance.

Chuck Fletcher is the latter.

For the most part, a vast majority of Fletcher’s moves as GM have been painfully average. Trades and signings that can’t be qualified as bad, but most that aren’t notably good either. Yet there have been a few moves that made waves, and for better or worse will define Chuck Fletcher’s legacy as general manager.


Matt Niskanen for Radko Gudas

Most weren’t thrilled with this move at the time, but it will ultimately go down as one of the most important moves Fletcher made during his time in Philly. Niskanen was 33 years old at the time of the trade and coming off a down year with the Washington Capitals. He ended up having a great season not only for himself, but he brought the best out of his defense partner Ivan Provorov as well. He helped carry the team to the deepest playoff run they’d seen in a decade before ultimately retiring with a year left on his contract. The Flyers have struggled to replace him and his absence has arguably been one of the biggest factors that led to the franchise’s spiral over the last few years.

Claude Giroux, Connor Bunnaman, German Rubtsov and a 2024 fifth for Owen Tippett, a 2024 first and 2023 third

It’s not Chuck Fletcher’s fault Giroux was on the roster well past the peak of his trade value, or that Giroux had a full no-movement clause that tied Fletcher’s hands when it came time to part ways with him, but he ended up crafting a deal with the Panthers that has aged rather well thanks to the emergence of Owen Tippett, and the fruits of both draft picks they received in return aren’t even known yet. While Tippet will never fill the shoes Claude Giroux left behind, but he’s proving to be a full-time NHL winger who could be a consistent 25-goal scorer in the league for years to come, something that was in question when they originally acquired him.

Kevin Hayes for a fifth round pick + seven-year, $50 million extension

This move may fall more into the “average” category than a flat out good move, but considering it, to this day, is the only serious move Chuck Fletcher has made to address the center depth, it’s not a bad try. He traded a fifth round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for the negotiating rights for Hayes and a few weeks later signed him to a %50 million extension. Hayes’ play has been overall strong during his time in Philly when he’s played healthy, posting a great 2019-20 and has been on fire since he returned to action in March of the 2021-22 campaign. It hasn’t been a perfect run, and the contract may be slightly more expensive than desired, but overall Kevin Hayes has been a fine player since his arrival in Philly.

2020 fifth (Elliot Desnoyers) for 2020 seventh (Gunnarwolfe Fontaine) and 2020 seventh (Chase McLane)

A seemingly random trade late in the 2020 draft has planted some interesting seeds for the Flyers at a cost of practically nothing. Elliot Desnoyers had a breakout career in juniors after he was drafted, posting 137 points in 98 games in two seasons. He’s now in Lehigh Valley as a rookie where he is currently one of the top center prospects in the system. It may have been a crapshoot trade, but it’s a successful crapshoot that could look even better if Desnoyers can transition to a useful player at the NHL level in the near future.


Shayne Gostisbehere, a 2022 second and 2022 seventh for nothing

There’s far more to this trade than it comes off at face value. The Flyers tried and failed to give Gostisbehere away for free twice in the months leading up to the trade, as he was placed on waivers in March of 2021 and later left exposed during Seattle’s expansion draft, going unclaimed on both occasions, so the trade market for the guy was not in the Flyers’ favor. His brooding personality and lack of on-ice results expedited a trade, which turned into a very expensive salary dump during the flat cap era. Clearing him just to acquire Rasmus Ristolainen a few days later didn’t exactly help people get over the original trade, either.

Tony DeAngelo for 2022 fourth, 2023 third and 2024 second

In the Flyers’ endless hunt for a competent top four right-handed defenseman, the Flyers’ desperation shone through when they gave up three draft picks for pending restricted free agent Tony DeAngelo from the Hurricanes then signed him to a two-year, $10 million extension. He has struggled to replicate his success he found with the Canes last season, instead looking more like his days with the Rangers as a competent offensive defenseman but struggling to keep his head above water in his own end (though has yet to punch out his own goaltender). Trading away Shayne Gostisbehere with picks only to acquire a more expensive right-handed version of a nearly identical player a year later for even more draft picks made a questionable move even worse.

Ryan Ellis for Nolan Patrick and Phil Myers

This trade ultimately was one giant nothing burger as all three players are not in the NHL at the moment, but it left the Flyers on the hook for Ellis’ $6.25 million cap hit until 2027. If Ryan Ellis had managed to not have a career ending injury just four games into his stint, this could’ve been one of the better trades in Flyers’ history based on the sample size he displayed in those four contests. Now they’ve got to work around Ellis’ LTIR money for the next four years, which just complicates an already messy cap situation.

Sean Couturier’s Extension

Given the direction the franchise is going partnered with Sean Couturier’s age and already slowing production, re-signing him just wasn’t the best move. He signed his extension in August of 2021, a year before his previous contract expired, played all of 29 games between then and December before two separate back surgeries have kept him on the the shelf ever since. Now he’s 30 years old with seven additional seasons left on his contract that carries a $7.75 million cap hit and they have to hope he doesn’t look like a 90-year-old man on skates when he returns.

It would’ve been an unpopular move, but trading Couturier back in 2021 would’ve been the right call. A top center fresh off his first Selke win at only a $4.3 million cap hit would’ve landed the Flyers a hell of a return, and maybe prevented the on-ice collapse they’ve experienced with Couturier absent anyway.

If only someone could’ve predicted re-signing Sean Couturier was a bad idea.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)


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