“It Starts With Me.”: Takeaways from Flyers President Chuck Fletcher’s Press Conference

The early tenure of Flyers President of Hockey Operations Chuck Fletcher has been a bit of a mixed bag thus far. In his first offseason, his acquisition of defenseman Matt Niskanen paid dividends as it helped to stabilize a top pair with Ivan Provorov, while the acquisition of defenseman Justin Braun was viewed as a way to provide a safety net of sorts in front of young goaltender Carter Hart.

That same offseason, he completed the biggest transaction of his tenure thus far, acquiring the rights to negotiate with center Kevin Hayes, ultimately signing him to a 7-year, $50m deal. Regardless of whether the deal got done because the Flyers overpaid or not, it paid off in a big way in Year 1, but not so much in an up-and-down Year 2.

Fletcher’s second offseason in charge, however, could best be defined as complacent. The organization very clearly put an onus on the team’s younger players like Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, and Phil Myers to take a step forward. They didn’t. In fact, it can be argued that the regression or plateauing of Sanheim and Myers led to trade deadline rumors surrounding the team’s search for a top pair defenseman. Those rumors still persist today.

With the Seattle Kraken’s Expansion Draft quickly approaching and the NHL Draft right on its heels, Chuck Fletcher met with the media Tuesday and in doing so shed a  bit of light on his offseason plan.

Seattle Holds the Key to the Offseason

Say it with me: flat cap. The flat cap was perhaps the most consistent topic discussed at the press conference, with Fletcher noting that Seattle is in a rare position this offseason:

Could that mean teams like the Flyers could leave players with larger salaries exposed in the Expansion Draft as a means to clear cap space?

Side deals being made to steer a team in an advantageous direction isn’t exactly new. So what about a guy like Jakub Voracek? No one thought to ask that question on the call.

Don’t worry, though. Anthony and I sat down for an exclusive interview with Fletcher afterwards for Snow The Goalie. Spoiler alert: he all but confirmed it. Make sure you check out the episode tomorrow.

They Wouldn’t Draft a Goalie, Right?

Vice President & Assistant GM Brent Flahr was also on the stage for the press conference, and while he didn’t field as many questions, he gave a pretty clear account of what the organization believes the draft looks like:

What happens if one of the highly-touted goalie prospects were to fall to #13?

Interesting tidbit there, including a follow-up in which he stated the team will draft the best player available regardless of position, noting that team’s needs can change in just a couple of years.

No Pick is Safe

Here’s where things got really interesting. If you’ve been resolute in the belief that Chuck Fletcher is going to play it safe this offseason, take note that he appears willing to part with the 13th overall pick in the NHL Draft:

That’s not the answer I expected, but it should certainly excite those who are hoping to see a big splash for a #1 defenseman or a top-end disgruntled talent like Jack Eichel. To be clear, Fletcher doesn’t appear willing to just give that pick away for an ancillary move:

Consider me intrigued.

Holding Himself Accountable

Perhaps the most important part of leadership is holding oneself accountable for when things don’t go to plan. While Chuck Fletcher noted that additions to the roster need to be made and returning players need to play better, he took some real accountability for the failure of the team a season ago:

There’s plenty to be done to turn this team’s fortunes around, but for the first time since his arrival in Philadelphia, it feels like Fletcher will enter the offseason with the urgency to get the job done and get the Flyers back into being a contender. That’s a good thing, because if he doesn’t get things turned around, he might not have the opportunity to prepare for another offseason as this team’s president.

For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy provide pregame and intermission coverage of every Flyers home game from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts   

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