Flyers fans demanded action. Flyers fans wanted Chuck Fletcher to do something, anything to give them a sign of hope for the future of the floundering franchise.
And Chuck waited. Sort of.
We are talking about the trade deadline, of course. Back in April, Fletcher did make a couple of minor moves, but nothing that really moved the needle.
But now, things have changed. It’s summer and Fletcher is a man of action. He made a strong trade for defenseman Ryan Ellis on Saturday and he could be lining up an even bigger prize with his next transaction in St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.
How’s he going to do that? We’ll get to that shortly. But before we do, let’s take you back to the trade deadline and outline for you how Fletcher’s inaction then (aside from small moves sending Michael Raffl to Washington and Erik Gustafsson to Montreal) is what set up what is taking place right now.
Back then, the fans weren’t happy. There were those calling Fletcher “Sleepy Chuck.” There were those who felt like he was always going to be that GM who tried real hard, but gosh darn it, just couldn’t get a deal done that made sense.
I said repeatedly then, that there needs to be patience. Go back and listen to any Snow the Goalie episode leading up to the deadline. There was trade chatter, sure. But the big moves, the moves that would make a difference for the Flyers, weren’t in the cards. But, that didn’t mean they wouldn’t be eventually.
That’s because sometimes, trades take time. And rather than use the deadline to make changes to his team, Fletcher used it to lay groundwork for the next time there would be a flurry of transactions – this month.
At the time, Chuck said he had talked to a lot of teams. At the end of the season, he added that he had a good idea about what teams were thinking as far as personnel – meaning those conversations were had well in advance – namely right before the deadline.
And Fletcher took those pieces of information – knowing what teams were looking to move from their roster and what they were looking to add, and pieced together a game plan, or as I called it on the latest episode of Snow the Goalie that featured 30 minutes with Chuck, a flow chart, and outlined his offseason.
So far, so good.
Let’s go back to the deadline, if you will, or even, before it.
I wrote about the Flyers’ interest in Ellis back in March.
Obviously, a trade didn’t happen at the deadline. As it turned out, Nashville started winning games and got back into the playoff race, so moving Ellis would have been a bad look.
But, there’s no doubt that they wanted to shed his salary. So, Fletcher kept in touch with the Predators as they headed into the offseason, reminding Nashville that they were still interested in Ellis.
But what would it take to get him?
The Predators had scouts at the Phantoms games repeatedly. Did they see something there they liked? Apparently not. Or at least not something the Flyers were willing to part with.
Phil Myers was likely discussed, and while the Flyers had seen enough of Myers to know he is still a project and they don’t have the time to wait for him to catch up and develop, they also knew Myers alone wasn’t going to get it done.
The Flyers tried to push Nolan Patrick on the Predators, but the Predators weren’t as bullish on whatever upside the former No. 2 overall pick still had.
Chuck needed a third team. Enter the Vegas Golden Knights.
Is it possible that we can see Nolan Patrick shipped to Vegas at some time in the next three hours? I think it's a real possibility. @NHLFlyers
— Anthony SanFilippo (@AntSanPhilly) April 12, 2021
Take note on the date of that tweet. April 12. The trade deadline. I had heard the Knights were interested, but the Flyers didn’t pull the trigger. It made sense, too. Kelly McCrimmon, the Vegas GM, is the former owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Canadian junior team where Patrick was a star, and skyrocketed to the top of the 2017 draft board. In fact, McCrimmon served as the head coach for a little more than a season of Patrick’s tenure.
There’s no doubt he’s familiar with Patrick believes in Patrick, and thinks that his relationship with Patrick and his family could help the struggling prospect to find his game at the next level.
Fletcher held on to this as well.
So, when the time came, in July, Fletcher could broker what essentially was a three-way deal, although they were listed as two separate trades.
Nashville wanted a player they liked better than Patrick. Vegas was willing to basically give up Cody Glass – selected four picks after Patrick in the draft, straight up.
The Flyers got a top pair defenseman for a defenseman who still has a lot of room to grow, and a center who was never going to cut it here anyway.
All because Chuck played the long game.
He didn’t have to part with a prospect like Morgan Frost. He didn’t have to trade any draft pick, never mind his first rounder, which is still in play.
It was a perfectly played gambit by Fletcher.
So, what’s next on the flow chart?
Well, if you watched Fletcher’s interview with us (and if you haven’t, you missed a lot), then you’ll know that he’s talked to Seattle GM Ron Francis about “nine times.” leading up to the expansion draft.
And Fletcher told us two very important things of note for us to cobble together…
- He talked with Jake Voracek about the Flyers needing to get better, and that his time here might be coming to a close and that Jake understands. After all, Voracek did an interview in the Czech Republic, saying as much.
- Fletcher told us that he talked to Francis about the possibility of the Kraken taking a player in the expansion draft for the Flyers and then trading that player to the Flyers for a package.
That information, combined with some more info that has come my way from a couple sources, one within the Flyers organization, and one outside of it, has led me to the following scenario:
- The Kraken will select Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues in the expansion draft.
- Seattle will then trade Tarasenko to the Flyers for Voracek and a draft pick. I’m told it’s not the first rounder either. So, let’s say a 2 or a 3.
- The Kraken then select Robert Hägg from the Flyers in the expansion draft.
This is certainly fluid, and could change in the next day or so, but from what I can gather, and putting the puzzle pieces together, this is next on Chuck Fletcher’s flow chart.
It also makes sense considering Voracek had his best season in the NHL playing for Hakstol, and Hakstol basically let Voracek play his game when he was his coach.
This begs the question, is adding Ellis and Tarasenko and subtracting Myers, Patrick, Voracek, Hägg and a draft pick a good start to the off-season?
I’d say yes, and evidence that Fletcher is best at his job when he shows patience.
That’s not to say that he’s done. Not by a long shot. There’s still more salary to shed, more moves that can happen. but you would be silly to think that if this is the next move for Fletcher, and it comes to fruition in the coming days, that he isn’t off to a flying start in this critical offseason for the Flyers.
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