Chuck Fletcher’s reign of terror over the Philadelphia Flyers lasted 1,558 days and it’s safe to say a whole lotta nothing got done during that time. He was hired on December 3, 2018, just weeks after the Flyers fired former general manager Ron Hextall.
Upon his arrival midway through the season, he did some basic house cleaning to purge some small hangover mistakes from the Hextall era such as trading Jordan Weal, dealing Dale Weise and Christian Folin for David Schlemko and Byron Froese and buying out the last year of Andrew MacDonald’s contract.
His first two moves of substance trading goalie Anthony Stolarz to Edmonton in exchange for Cam Talbot, then mishandled the latter so bad that he refused to re-sign with the team and left in free agency. He was tasked with trading franchise favorite Wayne Simmonds, who was entering the declining phase of his career. He was dealt for Ryan Hartman, who was flipped for Tyler Pitlick during the offseason, and a fourth round pick that was later dealt for Derek Grant.
Fletcher had a very productive first offseason at the helm of the Flyers. He went out and brought in two veteran defenseman in Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, he addressed the team’s gaping hole at center by acquiring and signing free agent Kevin Hayes. He made two big pick swaps at the draft, ultimately selecting Cam York and Bobby Brink in the first and second round.
He re-signed both Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov before the start of the 2019-20 season, albeit both briefly reached holdout territory.
His actions at the trade deadline where a bit suspect when he cheaped out, opting to acquire Nate Thompson and Derek Grant to plug holes at center rather than pursue the higher end J.G. Pageau. The failings at center ultimately set the Flyers up for failure in the playoffs, though they did make it to the second round for the first time since 2012.
That is pretty much the last time anything of positive substance happened during his time in Philly.
The 2020 offseason was a disaster, bringing in only defenseman Erik Gustafsson when the pandemic effected their financials. They won just 25 of 56 games, and followed that up with another 25-win season in 2021-22, this time over a full 82-game schedule.
The summer of 2021 was supposed to be a turning point when guys like Rasmus Ristolainen, Ryan Ellis and Cam Atkinson were brought in. It was the most change the organization underwent in almost a decade. While Atkinson was among the top scorers in the league and Ristolainen formed a solid pair with Travis Sanheim, Ellis would miss practicality the entire season with a mystery injury that was supposed to be a 4-6 week timeline. He would ultimately be forced to retire during the offseason.
Alain Vigneault was fired as was Mike Yeo who served as an interim coach and John Tortorella was brought in to replace them. There was all kinds of rumors at the time that Fletcher may not have been in 100% favor of the move as Dave Scott and co. used an outside agency to help make the hire.
Then the 2022-23 season turned out only slightly better than the previous two and after a botched trade deadline when Fletcher failed to move pending unrestricted free agent James Van Riemsdyk and got mercilessly booed out of the building during a town hall scheduled the following day, he was finally removed from power on March 10, 2023.
Chuck Fletcher was so painfully average for a bulk of his tenure as GM. His early moves in 2019 seemed promising. Some smart salary navigation mixed with solid additions via trade gave plenty of reason to hope that he was the guy to lead the Flyers to success. But an underwhelming 2020 trade deadline set the Flyers up for failure in the playoff bubble and they never really recovered after that.
Towards the end, he came very close to Paul Holmgren’s final year as GM- when every move he made was trying to bail out a previous failed move and before he knew it the team was completely buried. It’s the same thing here. The Matt Niskanen move didn’t hold, so they went after Ryan Ellis, which also back fired when he retired after four games, so they went after Tony DeAngleo, who just isn’t good enough to maintain a top pair spot.
In a sense, the 2022 offseason could’ve been his redeeming summer, but he whiffed -either voluntarily or involuntarily- on everybody of substance, and the moves he did make were just head-scratchingly stupid. Four years for Nic Deslauriers. Acquiring Tony DeAngelo which limited them from making any other moves. And buying out fan favorite cancer survivor Oskar Lindblom to make those moves happen. All that to just pass on hometown hero Johnny Gaudreau or not pursuing Alex DeBrincat or Dylan Strome, either of which would’ve filled a hole on the roster.
The 2023 trade deadline when he failed to move pending unrestricted free agent James Van Riemsdyk for anything at all was the straw that broke the camel’s back and brought to light what most had figured for a long time- he was incapable of leading the Flyers by failing to do even the most menial tasks.
He got fired five weeks before the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. With the Flyers not in contention for a playoff spot and the anger from the fanbase more than boiling over, it was better to just can the guy early to give the fans at least a bit of blood and cool tensions at least a bit heading into the offseason.
So long, Chucky. It’s been a terrible, terrible, terrible time for the last four and a half years.
1/11/19- Jacob Graves and 2019 sixth round pick (Roddy Ross) for Jordan Weal
1/17/19- Justin Bailey for Taylor Leier
2/11/19- David Schlemko and Byron Froese for Dale Weise and Christian Folin
2/16/19- Cam Talbot for Anthony Stolarz
2/25/19- Ryan Hartman and 2020 fourth round pick (Thimo Nickl) for Wayne Simmonds
6/3/19- Rights to Kevin Hayes for 2019 fifth round pick (Harrison Blaisdell)
6/14/19- Matt Niskanen for Radko Gudas
6/18/19- Justin Braun for 2019 second round pick (Kaeden Korczak) and 2020 third round pick (Maxim Groshev)
6/21/19- 2019 first round pick (Cam York) and 2019 second round pick (Egor Afanasyev) for 2019 first round pick (Victor Soderstrom)
6/21/19 2019 second round pick (Bobby Brink) for 2019 second round pick (Egor Afanasyev) and 2019 third round pick (Michael Vukojevic)
6/24/19- Tyler Pitlick for Ryan Hartman
2/19/20- futures for .F. Berube
2/24/20- Nathan Noel for T.J. Brennan
2/24/20- Derek Grant for 2020 fourth round pick (Thimo Nickl) and Kyle Criscuolo
2/24/20- Nate Thompson for 2021 fifth round pick (Danii Sobolev)
10/7/20- 2020 fourth round pick (Zayde Wisdom) for 2020 fourth round pick (Eamon Powell) and 2020 fifth round pick (Jaydon Dureau)
10/7/20- 2020 fifth round pick (Elliot Desnoyers) for 2020 seventh round pick (Gunnarwolfe Fontaine) and 2020 seventh round pick (Chase McLane)
4/7/21- 2021 fifth round pick (Ty Murchison) for Michael Raffl
4/7/21- 2022 seventh round pick (Miguel Tourigny) for Erik Gustafsson
7/17/21- Ryan Ellis for Phil Myers and Nolan Patrick
7/22/21- salary dump for Shayne Gostisbehere, 2022 second round pick (Artem Duda) and 2022 seventh round pick (Miguel Tourigny)
7/23/21- Rasmus Ristolainen for Robert Hagg, 2021 first round pick (Isak Rosen) and 2023 second round pick
7/24/21- Cam Atkinson for Jake Voracek
3/19/22- Owen Tippett, 2024 first round pick and 2023 first round pick for Claude Giroux, Connor Bunnaman, German Rubtsov and a 2024 fifth round pick
3/21/22- 2023 third round pick for Justin Braun
3/21/22- 2023 fourth round pick for Derick Brassard
7/8/22- Rights to Tony DeAngelo and a 2022 seventh round pick (Alexis Gendron) for 2022 fourth round pick (Simon Forsmark), 2023 third round pick and a 2024 second round pick.
3/3/23- Patrick Brown for a 2023 6th round pick
3/3/23- Zack MacEwen for Brendan Lemieux and 2024 5th round pick
Kevin Hayes- seven years, $50 million ($7.1 million aav)
Ivan Provorov- six years, $40.5 million ($6.75 million aav)
Travis Konecny- six years $33 million ($5.5 million aav)
Justin Braun- two years, $3.6 million ($1.8 million aav)
Carter Hart- three years, $11.9 million ($3.97 million aav)
Travis Sanheim- two years, $9.3 million ($4.67 million aav)
Oskar Lindblom- three years, $9 million ($3 million aav)
Scott Laughton- five years, $15 million ($3 million aav)
Joel Farabee- six years, $30 million ($5 million aav)
Sean Couturier- eight years, $62 million ($7.75 million aav)
Rasmus Ristolainen- five years, $25.5 million ($5.1 million aav)
Justin Braun- one year, $1 million ($1 million aav)
Owen Tippett- two years, $3 million ($1.5 million aav)
Nick Seeler- two years, $1.55 million ($775,000 aav)
Nic Deslauriers- four years, $7 million ($1.75 million aav)
Tony DeAngelo- two years, $10 million ($5 million aav)
Travis Sanheim- eight years $50 million ($6.25 million aav)
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com