Flyers Weekly Mailbag: Time to make moves

Chuck Fletcher
Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher is pictured during his introduction of Bruce Boudreau as the new Wild head coach during a news conference by the NHL hockey team Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Chuckkkkkkkkk hello and welcome to Philly. Well, Chuck Fletcher has been introduced by the Flyers as the 9th General Manager in franchise history.

What a few weeks of hoopla its been for this proud organization. It was tough letting go of a beloved fellow alumni in Ron Hextall, but a change had to be made. Let’s not forget the Flyers are still searching for consistency, but they did come back last night against the Blue Jackets to secure a point in a 4-3 overtime loss. It’s definitely not the start Fletcher hoped he would get out of his new club. Without further delay, here are our answers to your questions.

Wayne Simmonds will be dealt, whether it’s at the trade deadline or before then. His term is the problem for the Flyers not the money. Former General manager Ron Hextall previously stated this past Summer he doesn’t mind paying for a great player, but the term has to fit the Flyers needs. Unfortunately, Simmonds is looking for a long-term contract, and rightfully so for a guy that gives his all on the ice.

I think Simmonds would be a great bargaining chip for a Flyers team that needs to become more consistent in other areas, such as, Goaltending and Defense. It’s no secret the Flyers could use a stable netminder, but they are also in need of a top 4 Defenseman. Moreover, someone who could play effectively with Ivan Provorov. Provorov has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, and it’s showing in his game.

Claude Giroux, and Jakub Voracek I don’t foresee going anywhere. The Flyers can ill afford to lose two players who are on pace to possibly surpass their career highs in points again this season (Giroux 102 points and Voracek 85 points). Giroux has a NMC, so he would only go to a team that he wants to go to, and Voracek is too valuable to lose on the Wing at the moment. The only way I see Voracek leaving is if the Flyers can steal Artemi Panarin from the Blue Jackets at the deadline, at least that would strengthen the loss of Voracek on the Wing. Anything is possible in the world of sports.

Eagles thank you for your continued support. God bless you and your family.

Throughout the first few days of General Manager Chuck Fletcher’s days inauguration into the Flyers family, he has hinted at improving the Goaltending situation (which is ranked 29th in goals against with a GAA of 3.54), and the Defense. These are two glaring needs of this young Flyers team, as they could use stability in-goal for consistency purposes and a top 4 Defenseman. However, Fletcher has hinted at using in-house methods before going externally for help, with the hopes this team improves in those areas. If it does not improve he said he would be aggressive in hopes of finding some stability.

With all this being said, I believe Fletcher will get his feet wet for a month to properly assess the situation at hand. If things don’t improve by January, I could see him making some moves before the trade deadline on February 25. Fletcher has stated that this team should make a push for the playoffs and get in for that matter, and he hinted at having nine draft picks for this years coming draft. Moreover, Fletcher stated that he could possibly use the draft picks as a means to improve the team. Here’s a full transcript I received from the Flyers from the Conference call Chuck Fletcher had with the media on Monday:

“The term “ease in”… we’re 25 games in, there’s still a lot of runway left in the season, but the season also gets old pretty quickly. I would like to see what solutions we have to some of our problems and see if we have some of those solutions in-house, see if we have some solutions internally. We’re 29th in the league in goals against right now, and obviously there’s been a lot of injuries to the Goaltending, there’s been a lot of uncertainty in that position. But clearly we need to give up fewer goals. There’s no doubt about that. So how do we go about that? The first thing for me is I’d like to sit down with the coaches and let’s see what we can do. How can we improve? If we can’t find the solutions internally, then I certainly will look externally and do what we can to improve the team. But our goal is to make the playoffs this year, and we’d like to find solutions to get there. I can tell you I’ll be aggressive in that sense, but the first thing I think you have to do is see if you have in-house solutions.”

“Again, Paul and Dave were great. We didn’t get into the specifics of the team necessarily. We did discuss the team a bit, but they made it very clear they will trust my judgment and they will allow me to do the things I think we need to do to get better. I’m just looking at it from the outside, it’s not a secret – there’s five different goalies that have played in net this year, and that’s a lot. We’re 29th in goals-against; that’s too high. We have some young Defensemen, and a lot of them are going to be very good players in this league, but it’s a tough league. We just need to look at how do we give up fewer goals. It takes everybody on the ice to prevent a goal. But getting some stability in-goal would be great, getting healthy in-goal would be great. Sometimes you can’t control that, and that’s why we’ll first look to see what we have here in-house, and if need be, I’m certainly going to make a lot of calls and see what’s out there, and if we have to make a move we’ll be ready to do so. We have nine draft picks this year, an extra third, an extra seventh, we do have cap space. Those are all resources that you can use to make your team better.”

Randy thanks so much for your continued support. God bless you and your family. Without you this site wouldn’t exist. Happy holidays to you and your family.

Since General Manager and Assistant Coach of the Defense in Rick Wilson are new to the pack. I believe they will be just getting their feet wet for the first month. For at least a month Lappy will continue to coach the Penalty Killing Unit. Fletcher has hinted patience for a little bit just to see if the Flyers can right the ship. However, Fletcher did hint if he had to make a move he will do so. Lappy is fortunate that the PK has been better here as of late, as they have killed off 15 straight penalties. The Flyers however still rank 30th in the NHL on the PK, and this is a stat that must keep improving. With that being said, I think Lappy continues to coach the PK Unit for another month, at least until Fletcher and Wilson can evaluate the situation properly.

Lou thanks for your support. Without you this site doesn’t exist today. Have a safe holiday season.

The odds are very good of obtaining both Bill Zito and Joel Quenneville for positions within the Flyers organization, by at the very least the Summer. Zito is the man on the inside track to secure the Assistant GM role, with Quenneville as the next Head Coach eventually. Quenneville has hinted that he wouldn’t mind holding out on his next coaching opportunity until the Summer, so he could spend some much-needed quality time with his family. “Q” has ties to General Manager Chuck Fletcher so that helps at the end of the day. Time will tell, but these are the two I’m praying for if we do in fact make more changes.

Chef you’re the man. God bless you and your family. For those that are interested Chef is the best “Chef,” of the Steam Pub restaurant in Southampton, PA. Come on out for some good fun and a friendly atmosphere. They also have daily specials.

Wade Allison has come on quite strong after finally recovering from a torn ACL last season for the Western Michigan Bulldogs. What seemed like an eternity for him return this season. Allison finally did such in November, and to his credit he has potted 2 goals, and 2 assists in 4 games played. Unfortunately, with him coming into the NCAA in the middle of the season like he did, I find it hard to believe he will sign an ELC with the Flyers after he concludes his Junior season of hockey. I personally believe he will return to WMU for his Senior season of hockey, and after he completes his tenure with the Bulldogs, he will then sign his ELC with the orange and black. Trust me good days are ahead with Allison and the Flyers. If he didn’t tear his ACL last season he would have signed his ELC with the Flyers this past off-season.

Kevin thanks so much for your support. Without you this site doesn’t exist. I hope you and your family have a great holiday season. Stay safe and thanks.

A Flyers prospect that might be dealt in my opinion is Tanner Laczynski. I can honestly see him not signing an ELC with the orange and black when his tenure is complete at Ohio State, especially if he wins the Hobey Baker Award this season. Laczynski has potted 5 goals, and 9 assists on the season now in 13 games played. He was off to a slow start for the first few games, but has since picked up his play. In the event that happens Fletcher will trade his services, and get something in return from him (A la Cooper Marody). I think he might believe he’s a top 6 Forward, and in the future the Flyers may not be able to honor his wish.

One prospect that may get called up is NAK once again. I can really see this happening. I mean the Flyers could use some help on the Wing, and NAK is lighting it up with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the moment. He has tallied 7 goals, 5 assists, and is a plus 7 on the season in 14 games played for the Phantoms. NAK was playing well when he was given ice time for the Flyers, and he was playing well when he was sent down to the Phantoms. Fletcher has hinted at using in-house solutions before making a trade, so calling up NAK may happen sooner, rather than later.

Simmonds would be a perfect fit for the Boston Bruins. I personally believe that the Bruins would be interested in his services. In the event Simmonds is traded to the Bruins there are two prospects in their pipeline that might catch Fletcher’s eye, Jesse Gabrielle (LW) and Zach Senyshyn (RW). Both are feisty Wingers, and will be NHL mainstays at some point. The position of Wing could be a need in the future for the orange and black, so either of these players could help them in the future.

The one Assistant General Manager I’m advocating for is Bill Zito from the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. He is great with numbers, and with the Flyers at least having $30 million of cap space at season’s end (Could be upwards of $38 million). Fletcher will need someone like Zito to maintain the salary cap properly, as the Flyers could get into a spending frenzy in the off-season.

Michael thanks so much for your support. God bless you and your family. Without you this site doesn’t exist today.

Joel Quenneville is waiting for the right job, and he wouldn’t mind sitting out the rest of the season to spend time with his family until that happens I have heard. The Flyers have to act before the season ends in order to lure him to Philly. There will be a ton of head coaching vacancies this off-season. With the Detroit Red Wings ready to sign Stevie Y to be their next General Manager, Detroit could be an attractive spot to land a head coaching position. Moreover, teams like St. Louis, Columbus, Edmonton, Florida, and maybe the Los Angeles Kings will all be vying to fill their head coaching vacancies, as well. This could spell bad news for the Flyers, as with more competition the tougher it becomes to land Coach Q. Yes, Coach Q’s ties to General Manager Chuck Fletcher help, but with so many choices it still may be tough.

The more the Flyers win, the more unlikely it becomes they will make a coaching change mid-season. I mean Fletcher said that himself that Dave Hakstol will get a fair shake. To me that means he’s giving him at least a month (Until January), to see what he’s got. Fletcher expects the Flyers to get better and make the playoffs. If the Flyers continue to lose and play .500 hockey, the more unlikely it becomes that Hakstol stays until years end. Fletcher knows this team better than I thought in a short amount of time that is. I think he knows the Flyers were supposed to take the next step this season. Anything less is a failure in my opinion. With that being said, Fletcher doesn’t appear to be a man who is happy playing .500 hockey, so I can see him acting if that’s the case. Here’s what Fletcher said on Hakstol in a Conference call to the media this past Monday:

I’ve known Dave for a while. I met Dave a few times while he was at North Dakota. He did a tremendous job at North Dakota. His teams always got better as the season went on. When you had a player that was drafted by your organization that attended North Dakota, they always got better, they always developed.  So I have a lot of respect for what he’s accomplished in his career. I’m just coming in. I’m a big believer in trying to get to know a situation before making a reaction. I’d like to think we can solve a lot of the issues that have plagued the team this year and find a way to get better. I certainly have no intention of making a coaching change tomorrow, if that’s your question. I’m going to meet with Dave and we’re going to try to work together and push. Our goal is to try to make the playoffs this year, it’s that simple. We have work to do, and it’ll be a challenge. But there’s no reason why we can’t get better, and we can’t push to make the playoffs and find a way to get in.”

Mike I appreciate your support. God bless you and your family. Without you this site doesn’t exist.

There’s one easy to answer to this. Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky is a free agent at year’s end, so the Blue Jackets can ill afford to lose his services for nothing. Yes, in-house solutions are great until Carter Hart is ready. However, there is not one Goaltender that is consistent enough for me to be comfortable with, to be the starting Goaltender for a period of time. Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth are good when healthy, but neither can stay healthy this season. At one time I would have loved for Elliott to be that stop-gap Goaltender until Hart was ready. However, the Flyers cannot continue this Goaltending carousel past this season. Anthony Stolarz is probably the likeliest to stay with the big club this season, as Alex Lyon can’t stay healthy either.

The easiest way to fix this problem in my eyes is a trade for Bobrovsky. Fletcher will not tolerate this Goaltending carousel when he sees it first hand, and he has hinted at being aggressive if he has too to make sure that the Goaltending improves.

Mister thanks for your continued support. Without you this site doesn’t exist today.

This is the million dollar question. I have no idea. He has tallied 4 goals, and 7 assists in 26 games played this season. He only had 10:06 in ice time against the Pittsburgh Penguins this past Saturday. Lindblom needs more ice time than that, as he is a young player. For those that believed Ron Hextall chose the lines on a nightly basis, looks like Dave Hakstol was on the same page with him, if not worse. With Hextall at the helm at least Lindblom was a top 9 player for the most part. It’s a travesty to have this young man on the 4th line rotting.

Misti thanks so much for your support. God bless you and your family. Happy Holidays.

The Canucks do not appear to be ideal trading partners. However, they have two players that may interest the Flyers in LHD Alexander Edler (but at 32 go to be careful) for a top 4 Defenseman, and Center Markus Granlund. Granlund isn’t a top 6 player by any means, however he’s an upgrade for third line Center and 4th line Center. He has been great on the Penalty Kill this season for the Canucks, and can play the second power play unit if needed. Granlund has tallied 6 goals, and 5 assists this season in 31 games played. One last point about Granlund he can play the Wing, as well.

Edler has tallied 2 goals, and 6 assists in 16 games played. He averages 22:02 in ice time this season. Edler does it all for the Canucks when healthy.

Joe Paw thanks for your continued support. God bless you and your family. Have a great holiday season.

Fletcher hails from Montreal, Canada, and was a former Assistant General Manager for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He then moved onto to become the General manager of the Minnesota Wild, a title he held for nine seasons. During Fletcher’s tenure with the Wild, he lead them to six playoff appearances in a row. Fletcher’s contract was not renewed this past off-season by the Wild, so he was hired by the New Jersey Devils as a senior advisor.

The new General Manager in Fletcher will have his work cut off for him throughout the rest of this season. I like Fletcher, as he has stated he’s not afraid of being aggressive when necessary. However, he would like to see what he has in-house first, as he would rather look internally, rather than go externally to plug a hole. To me that shows he’s patient to a certain extent. Fletcher does expect results as he has stated this past week, but he would love to keep the farm in tact if he can. He will get results, and I believe this was a good hire. Better days are ahead for this proud organization. For what it’s worth I think Bill Zito will eventually fill the role of Assistant GM down the line.

Flyers thanks so much for your support. Without you this site doesn’t exist. I hope you and your family have a great holiday season, and stay safe.

Fletcher has won before, this one boggles my mind here. He was the Assistant GM with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2006-09, and in 2009 they won the Stanley Cup. Fletcher was seen as a guy who couldn’t get the Minnesota Wild over the hump in the playoffs. Under the direction of Fletcher the Wild made the playoffs six out his nine seasons as GM for the club. Unfortunately, the Wild would excel in the Regular Season only to fall flat in the playoffs. It became a common trend for the club, thus that was a major factor in letting him go this past off-season.

Like you said Jim Rutherford didn’t have the success he would have liked to have like with the Carolina Hurricanes. But, he goes to Pittsburgh and wins two cups. I believe Fletcher has the skills to win the Flyers a cup in the coming years. He is patient like Ron Hextall, but he is not afraid pull the trigger on a trade. Of course, using assets such as draft picks to do such as he stated this past week. Fletcher is a solid hire, and a much better hire than Dave Nonis.

Tim thanks so much for your support. Without you this site doesn’t exist. God bless you and your family. Happy Holidays.

https://twitter.com/archangels1111/status/1070389908445876224?s=19

The only trade I can foresee at the moment is obtaining either a Goaltender or a top 4 Defenseman. However, I do not expect a trade until late December-Early January as Fletcher is still getting to know the team. I believe by the end of the Canadian swing in the coming weeks, Fletcher will know this team well. He will then be able to assess the situation properly, and maybe make a move if necessary. Some assets that could be used are draft picks, and Simmonds. Let’s see if the Flyers can right the ship in the coming weeks so a trade doesn’t need to be made immediately before the trade deadline on February 25th.

Michael thanks so much for your continued support. God bless you and your family. Have a great holiday season.

The odds are very good of obtaining Joel Quenneville as the next Head Coach of the Flyers, by at the very least the Summer. Quenneville has hinted that he wouldn’t mind holding out on his next coaching opportunity until the Summer, so he could spend some much-needed quality time with his family. “Q” has ties to General Manager Chuck Fletcher so that helps at the end of the day. I say the odds of Quenneville being the next head coach of this proud Flyers organization is a 75% shot.

Fletcher has hinted at giving him up to at least a month to evaluate the team, and coaching staff effectively. He stated yesterday that he might be able to get up to speed by the end of the trip through the great country of Canada. I say Hakstol is safe for at least until the end of December beginning of January. They have about a five-day lapse between games at the end of December, so if the Flyers were going to make a coaching change that would be the perfect time to do it.

Paul Holmgren definitely had a hand in the terminattion of Ron Hextall. Of course, Dave Scott ultimately relieved Hextall of his duties, but Holmgren did the majority of the leg work to make that possible. A change had to be made, and this is the change that the organization made. Hextall needed to pull the trigger on a deal for a Goaltender, a top 4 Defenseman, or a third line Center. Actually, if he would have just solidified the Goaltending Carousel that is now present today, maybe Hextall would still be here as GM of the Flyers. Listen I love Hextall. He did great things here by getting the Flyers out of cap hell, and restocking the prospect pool. However, a change definitely needed to happen. Hopefully, this improves the morale of the locker room, and the orange and black can right the ship for the rest of the season.

Tim thanks so much for your continued support. God bless you and your family. Happy holidays to you.

If you would like to see your questions submitted in our weekly mailbag. Just submit your question on our Facebook page or on Twitter using #Flyersmail. Thanks to all the fans for another great mailbag, and Let’s go Flyers. Without your support we wouldn’t be here today.

 

AP Photo/Jim Mone

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