Let’s start off by saying that Chuck Fletcher has had a solid offseason.
Although the summer is not quite over since there are some lingering players that need to be signed, with the cap left and the worth of the players needing to be signed, it’s likely that Chuck will get Scott Laughton, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny to sign decent deals. I do not think these contracts will be as frightening as some may think. Chuck should be able to get a deal done because the Flyers are in a tight position with their cap flexibility. There is no room for Chuck to go out of his way and overpay these players.
Besides the unsigned contracts that are needed before the season starts, it is quite simple as to why this offseason has already been successful.
Chuck Fletcher knows this team is close to winning and contending. There is great potential with a roster that already has Carter Hart, Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick. This just the list of the younger players…do not forget to factor in Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier, and James Van Riemsdyk.
In addition to the players already on the roster, Fletcher has made multiple additions that increase the potential of this team.
On defense, Matt Niskanen is an upgrade over Radko Gudas and Justin Braun is also another solid addition to the team. Niskanen is a Stanley Cup Champion and Braun was a very underrated aspect for the Sharks during their playoff run.
On offense, Kevin Hayes is exactly what this team needed. The Hayes addition is also exactly what Nolan Patrick needs in order to help him grow as a center. Despite slightly overpaying for him, the Flyers desperately needed this type of player. Kevin Hayes was the second best free agent option that could fill the 2C role the Flyers needed to address. Chuck Fletcher knew that if Hayes were to hit the open market, he could have easily received more than the Flyers were able to spend. With Hayes off of the market, the Flyers would have had that huge hole to fill with lower-quality options to choose from.
There was no huge splash made this offseason, and quite frankly there never was going to be one. Any additions bigger than Hayes and Niskanen were going to take playing time away from the younger players, who are ready to step into bigger roles.
In addition to upgrading the roster, Fletcher has also brought in an extremely experienced coaching staff that the youth can learn from. That is a huge aspect of this offseason that does not get much attention.
Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo are experienced coaches that bring a lot of knowledge to this youthful team. Combined they have coached almost 1300 career NHL games. Yeo won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh cup as an assistant. These coaches knew they needed a reset on their careers and they came to a destination where the franchise also needed some sort of reset.
When Alain Vigneault was hired to be the head coach, the fear was that he was not going to play the young players and instead rely on the older veterans on the team. In reality, Vigneault has no choice but to play the kids because Chuck has built his roster around them.
From the coaching staff to the older core to the younger players to Carter Hart, this is the most complete team this franchise has had in close to a decade.
This team is deep and ready to compete. It really is that simple. Once this team starts winning games early in the season, the questions about the offseason additions will dwindle. While it is not a guarantee that this team will succeed mightily, Chuck has done his best to put the core and the youth in the best position possible to succeed.
The team needed a better coaching staff, they have it.
The team needed a 2c/3c to help Patrick grow as a player, they have that.
The franchise could not afford to lose any major prospects, they kept prospects.
The team needed the youth to have larger responsibilities, they have that.
The team needed a complete roster with no less stop-gap contracts, they have that.
This team needed a solid draft from Chuck, he had one.
The team needed 4 solid lines that can contribute, they have that.
Fans wanted Chuck to fill holes within the roster, he did that.
If you were a fan looking for some change this offseason, you should be very pleased with Chuck Fletcher and this franchise.
There isn’t much more Chuck Fletcher could have done. He couldn’t have added all-star players that he could not afford, especially since some of those players had other destinations in mind.
Having this current roster ready for game one is going to be the biggest factor for success. It has been a Flyers tradition to not be prepared for game one with no starting goalie and no offensive depth. They dip in the standings early and then treat the last 30 games as playoff matchups. That is not a formula for success, but with the current roster put in place this team will be in a better place at the start of the season than they have been in a very long time.
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