What We Learned From Chuck Fletcher’s Press Conference


Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher addressed the media today. Is he making the critical decisions to right the ship?

Back in September, Chuck Fletcher spoke about where the Philadelphia Flyers were as a franchise after falling to the New York Islanders in seven games during the 2020 Eastern Conference Semifinals:

“When I look back where we were seventeen months ago, we talked about the things we had to do. I think we’ve come a long way. I think the coaching staff deserves a lot of credit.”

Chuck Fletcher; 9/10/2020

Now, Fletcher sounds a little different in the way he approaches his coaching staff. Still, he holds himself accountable.

“It starts with me. I’m responsible for the overall direction of the team.”

Chuck Fletcher; 3/24/2021

In the NHL, consistency is vital. Consistently, the Flyers have sunk towards the bottom of the Mass Mutual Eastern Division. Today, Fletcher acknowledged how Erik Gustafsson didn’t fill the void left by Matt Niskanen. Gustafsson has been inconsistent, but so has the rest of Philadelphia’s defense.

“I think the makeup of our group is not right. I think that’s a fair comment. I think we have to address that to get the right mix.”

Chuck Fletcher; 3/24/2021

But Will Chuck Fletcher Bust A Move?

About six and a half months later, everything Fletcher felt is up for a challenge. Thirst has crept in about a trade to fix the flailing defense. During today’s press conference, Fletcher made it clear that the Flyers are not sellers. Is it possible Philadelphia doesn’t make any moves before the trade deadline?

“We’re certainly not looking at selling right now. It’s been very quiet in receiving calls. I’ve made many.”

Chuck Fletcher; 3/24/2021

Notably, the Flyers are not an attractive team in terms of money and contract terms. They’ve overpaid on Shayne Gostisbehere, locked an additional $3mil into Gustafsson, and offer a risk of a price gouge with Jakub Voracek.

As much as Philadelphia doesn’t want to hear it, Fletcher makes a good point in not over-reacting to this season. The constant over-analysis of the players shouldn’t mask the roster the Flyers could have in the future. Fletcher realizes hockey is the most volatile it has been for most of the players on his roster. Patience is always tough to stick to, especially when the rash decision is to make a trade. Playing the long game with his current system could reward Philadelphia more than a constant “win-now” panic.

“There will be ups and downs. Long term, they should be good NHL players. A lot of challenges this year; some have handled better than others. Have to be careful not to over-analyze.”

Chuck Fletcher; 3/24/2021

Expansion Hesitation

As Fletcher mentioned, “not selling,” and being careful “not to over-analyze,” it seems he is timid in making a trade before the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Slamming fists for Mattias Ekholm or David Savard could fall on deaf ears. What could the Flyers leverage for Ekholm or Savard? More importantly, in leveraging a trade this season, what could Philadelphia lose additionally in the expansion?

Firstly, Fletcher could consider that, in the long run, trading for Ekholm or Savard could be the more dangerous play. After his press conference, he values upcoming draft picks to build a team more than trading essential pieces. Fletcher also cherishes his system. Suddenly, the price becomes too steep when discussing draft picks and prospects with a core forward. Following this past offseason, the Flyers wouldn’t be quick to leave a young group of defensemen exposed, which is why Fletcher may wait until 2021-2022 to secure a helping hand alongside Ivan Provorov.

Due to the NHL during a pandemic era, strategies need revisions. Scouting is limited, which is why Philadelphia may be intelligent to stock up on draft picks to play a probability game.

Along with Fletcher’s press conference today, the Flyers signed Max Willman to a two-year, $1.5mil contract.