Scott and Fletcher Address the State of the Flyers

Flyers' Chuck Fletcher
24 June 2011: Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

There goes the neighborhood.

Before we dive into the state of the Philadelphia Flyers, brought to us by Chuck Fletcher and Dave Scott, we need to think about our expectations. I asked a question, based on a rebuild, of how long it would take for the Flyers to make the postseason.

The sample size is based on just about a hundred votes. Small, but a voice nonetheless. Clearly, we all understand there is work to be done. A rational majority were nearly split but agree that 3-5yrs make sense. 

Do Scott and Fletcher echo those expectations? Will the front office receive a facelift? Which players will Philadelphia build around? Did the Flyers decide to choose a rebuild or retool path? These topics, and more, received answers.

Culture Shock

Nothing says “losing culture” like a franchise-record losing streak. At the podium were two roles; a figurehead and a hockey general manager. There are a couple of absolute truths regarding this low in team history: 

  • Yes, this is happening while Comcast owns the Philadelphia Flyers. 
  • Fletcher aggressively bought or acquired players just to have to sell less than a season later.

It’s less on Scott. You’re right, he doesn’t know hockey. He also doesn’t know box lacrosse. Why is it that the Philadelphia Wings are confidently thriving after a league expansion?

Before that notion goes too far off the rails, Scott acknowledged the frustration from the fanbase. More than ever, it’s warranted.

“I’m sorry. You deserve so much better. This isn’t what anyone signed up for.”

Dave Scott; 1/26/2022

Scott said Comcast is committed to keeping the franchise. He feels connected with Fletcher. Fletcher has to assemble a lineup that changes this defeated culture. Before the season, culture was a buzzword that trended throughout every acquisition. Scott said this about Philadelphia’s culture:

“I think if you asked anyone in hockey ops, they would say nothing’s changed.”

Dave Scott; 1/26/2022

That’s a problem.

Flyers Ownership

Remember that poll from earlier? Only 4% voted the Flyers to make the postseason immediately. Did Dave Scott vote? A follow would be swell, next time, just saying.

“I don’t see this being a three to five year rebuild. We’ve got a good core to build on.”

Dave Scott; 1/26/2022

Ambition has to welcome reason. Scott believes Philadelphia can compete next season. That just isn’t realistic with the task at hand.

Unlike his other sports endeavors, Scott may not be surrounded by the best experts. Paul Day is the reigning General Manager of the Year in the NLL. Daryl Morey helps craft the Philadelphia 76ers operations as the President of Basketball Operations with analytics-proven metrics. Fletcher isn’t described cap friendly, a prospect developer, and has a proven track record of relaying to Minnesota Wild players like Ron Hextall does with the Pittsburgh Penguins with former Flyers. To that, it’s notable to point out how Scott feels about Philadelphia’s hockey operations:

“Right now, Chuck’s my guy. I feel like I’m personally surrounded by great hockey people.”

Dave Scott; 1/26/2022

The plan doesn’t seem to have any notable changes. Daniel Briere was name-dropped as having a larger role with hockey operations.

A silver lining to all of this is the possibility of grooming Briere to one day become the Flyers general manager.

“Aggressively Retool”

Per Fletcher, Philadelphia will “aggressively retool.” How is that different than what he attempted the last offseason?

He is keeping options open. Fletcher ought to be playing hot potato with his phone ahead of the trade deadline. All Flyers fans can get behind Fletcher’s want, but maybe not the execution:

“I don’t think there’s any question we need more top-end talent.”

Chuck Fletcher; 1/26/2022

Just as long as Philadelphia isn’t mortgaging ridiculous draft capital to acquire modest returns.

Rasmus Ristolainen was an expensive acquisition that hasn’t fulfilled his trade expense or monetary value. Overall, Ristolainen is not a bad talent. He was not worth the trade when it was executed, but the Flyers could drive his price down at the end of this season. Per Fletcher, the goal is to sign Ristolainen at the end of the season. Adding top-end talent is a dangerous game because Fletcher surely thought he was getting that at a bargain bin value with Keith Yandle.

In the quest to sign Ristolainen, why would he decide to remain in Philadelphia? He only knows dreadful hockey in terms of where he’s played during his career. Anything greater than $5.4AAV is a gross overpay, but are the Flyers in a position to convince Ristolainen to stay? He isn’t “top-end talent,” especially when Fletcher already acquired another long-term contract in hopes that Ryan Ellis was healthy.

Giroux Watch

“I think we have to recognize what we’re dealing with. He’s a franchise player. He has a no-move clause. Ultimately, it’s his decision. We’ll continue to have conversations and a decision will have to be made.”

Chuck Fletcher; 1/26/2022

First and foremost, if Claude Giroux is to be traded, it has to make sense for all parties. Fletcher touched on that. The proposal also needs to make sense for the teams involved. Speaking of which, here is a list of teams who scouted Philadelphia versus the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Declaring that the Tampa Bay Lightning should trade for Giroux doesn’t automatically work. There is smoke on the water when discussing the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers, however. Those destinations act as the obvious.

Teams nearby the Metropolitan Division are worth a worry. Giroux might not want to relocate far away. I wouldn’t discredit the New Jersey Devils or Boston Bruins. Fletcher might, which makes sense. It would be too strange to see Giroux turn to the dark side.

A business move would consist of trading him to the Los Angeles Kings or Ottawa Senators. The Flyers could make out like gangbusters in terms of a first-round pick, draft position, and a skilled player.

It’s all up to Giroux.

Ellis and Couturier Out For Season?

Speaking of Ellis, his unavailability creates an unwanted urgency to sign Ristolainen. Last offseason, Fletcher’s moves had him smelling like a rose. Unfortunately, in 2021-2022, those acquisitions aged like milk.

Without Ellis, Philadelphia has a lopsided defense. He’s on the books through 2026-2027. During this wretched season, it’s intelligent to shut him down. Fletcher echoed the same about Couturier. Couturier is on the books up through 2029-2030.

At no point will the Flyers compete for any style of playoff position. Rushing players back to the ice is counterproductive. The rest of this season heavily relies on positives from this “good core,” as Scott described it, and the prospects who audition. Following the loss to the New York Islanders, Mike Yeo echoed that about Gerry Mayhew:

“[In] the last two in particular, he looks very determined to be a guy that could be here when players come back. That’s what we’re asking for from all of our young players. Show you’re somebody that we would want on this team.”

Mike Yeo; 1/25/2022

Philadelphia is trying to avoid surgery with Ellis and Couturier. No commitment regarding either return.

(Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon Sportswire)