For the Philadelphia Flyers, free agency wrapped up within five hours of the market opening. Off-season activity includes the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, a trade, seven free agent signings, and one extension.
At face value, Chuck Fletcher made a lot of moves. Just below the surface is an utter disappointment. “Fire Chuck” was the message at the Flyers Training Center just before Fletcher approached the microphone to address the media. During his address, “Fire Chuck” was trending on social media.
Dave Scott needs to listen to the fans. An unwillingness to move a bad contract with a high draft pick for an NHL superstar who wants to revive your franchise is inexcusable. Even worse, Fletcher defended his position, changing “aggressive retool” into “stabilizing.”
The decisions made aren’t what the Flyers sold to their fans in 2021-2022.
Flyers 2022 Draft Class
Fletcher, for a good reason, was buried all week long. However, he does deserve praise for his drafting. In the 2022 Flyers Development Camp, prospects from all his draft classes since becoming general manager remain impressive.
The commentary on the most recent crop suggests another good draft class. Cutter Gauthier, Devin Kaplan, and Alex Bump received their flowers in a solid camp. Gauthier and Kaplan both arrived in Philadelphia by way of the US NTDP. Bump, a commit to the University of Vermont in 2023-2024, has another year of hockey ahead of him at Prior Lake High and the Omaha Lancers in the USHL.
Gauthier needs a year of seasoning but possesses all the skills you would expect from a fifth overall selection. Bump is confident and self-aware at his age, ahead of schedule in his development to the NHL.
Kaplan and Gauthier have the opportunity to develop together, syncing their synergy from the US NTDP to the Flyers.
On the ice, DeAngelo is an upgrade. Ryan Ellis is “progressing,” but the likelihood he begins the regular season on the long-term injured reserve is high. Fletcher moved three picks (the 2022 fourth round, the 2023 third round, and the 2024 second-round pick) to acquire DeAngelo. The Carolina Hurricanes were right to make it tough on a fellow Metropolitan Division rival.
Comparably, this deal for DeAngelo was better than the previous splash Fletcher made the last off-season for Rasmus Ristolainen (Robert Hagg, the 2021 first-round and 2023 second-round pick.) Fletcher, two seasons later, is still trying to replace the production Shayne Gostisbehere offered.
DeAngelo is a peculiar case. He has a reputation for disgruntling most teams he joins. In 2022-2023, he’ll have to answer John Tortorella.
“I’m willing to do whatever the coach wants to be done, it’s his team. Whatever he says that needs to be done, that’s what we’re all going to do. We all have to be bought in. The only way you can win in this league is if you have guys bought in.”Tony DeAngelo; 7/9/2022
If there is a coach to keep DeAngelo in check, it might just be Tortorella.
He’ll get an unfair shake out of the gates with Flyers fans. It’s unfair because, in his role, Deslauriers fits what Philadelphia wants on the fourth line. The unpopularity attached to Deslauriers surrounds the expectation set ahead of free agency. Johnny Gaudreau should’ve been the only forward to join the roster.
His role isn’t to score goals. It’s to be very physical and switch the momentum of a game with a fight. Ironically, it’s the “Broadstreet Bullies” culture when no one asked for it. Again, that isn’t to cloud Deslauriers. It’s an indictment of the Flyers’ presented expectations versus reality.
Deslauriers received a modified no-trade clause for two years of his four-year contract. The modified no-trade clause allows Deslauriers to submit twenty teams for Philadelphia to make a deal with, which doesn’t make it as bad as it sounds.
He is the forward version of Ristolainen. Ristolainen will contribute more on offense, but the defensive and puck possession metrics are very similar. There isn’t a way to sugarcoat the Deslauriers signing; it was the wrong decision with a route available to sign Gaudreau.
Nonetheless, Fletcher did secure the RD position. He did massively overpay and mismanaged assets. With Nick Seeler and Attard already on the roster, just about everyone would have preferred Gaudreau. Fletcher rerouted, deciding James van Riemsdyk and a first-round selection was too much to pass up. Choosing to “stabilize,” Braun is an understandable hire.
Last season, Braun was a stand-out on a poor defensive unit. His metrics reflected his performance, despite a dumpster fire of a season. The New York Rangers took interest, trading for Braun at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. However, if the DeAngelo trade didn’t hint at Ellis likely going to long-term injured reserve, the Braun signing should.
What Fletcher is saying and what he is doing are two separate entities. In any other light, Braun is an appreciated hire, but this time he is as unnecessary as Deslauriers when there was the opportunity to secure Gaudreau.
Marody, Grosenick, Belpedio, Connauton, Brooks
Five signings joined after Deslauriers and Braun. Fletcher, as he sat down to address the media, announced the signings of Cooper Marody (C,) Troy Grosenick (G,) Louis Belpedio (RD,) Kevin Connauton (D,) and Adam Brooks (C.)
Of these five signings, Grosenick and Connauton would be the favorites to break into the Flyers’ lineup. Connauton flexed as a forward and defenseman in 2021-2022. Grosenick, signed to a one-way contract, is expected to compete with Samuel Ersson and Felix Sandstrom to back up Carter Hart.
(Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)