Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher took to the mic for the final time this season to provide some injury updates and general notes on the team.
The Philadelphia Flyers saw their season come to an end just under a week ago. They took the Islanders to a Game Seven before being shutout in the final game. It was a tough loss after battling back from a 3-1 deficit.
There were some positives to take, as well as some things to change moving forward. That can be said for just about every offseason. The Flyers took a large leap forward this season after failing to reach the postseason a year ago. They made more wins and more points, despite the season being cut short by 13 games.
Young players stepped up when needed as the team had a large number of rookies make their NHL debuts this season. Some saw their first NHL goals as well. And their young goaltender continued to prove that he is the real deal. Carter Hart, despite his road struggles, proved to be the team’s best player in the postseason.
On the flip side, there were issues when it came to scoring. Top players were failing to contribute at a high rate and the depth scoring all but disappeared as time went on. An area of strength previously has now turned into something the Flyers will have to take a look at moving forward.
They weren’t without their injuries either. The few months off between March and July allowed most teams around to league to return to full strength. But the sudden jump into postseason play did give us quite a few injuries.
Chuck Fletcher spoke on those and much more during his end of the season press conference on Thursday afternoon.
GM Chuck Fletcher on the end of the season: “You’re always disappointed at the end of a playoff run. When I look back at where we were 17 months ago, we talked about the things we had to do. I think we’ve come a long way. I think the coaching staff deserves a lot of credit.”
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) September 10, 2020
At this moment, there are only three injured Flyers that we know about. Sean Couturier, himself, spoke after Game Seven about his own. He played through a sprained MCL in his right knee. It occurred after a knee-on-knee collision with Mat Barzal in Game Five. Couturier would miss the following game.
Michael Raffl was dealing with a high-ankle sprain. It originally occurred during the round-robin. However, he tweaked the ankle again during the playoffs. Hence why he was absent for a few games.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel was the other player to have missed some time due to injury. He blocked a few shots during Game Three against the Montreal Canadiens. He wouldn’t return until the opening game of the Islanders series. It turns out he had a badly bruised knee.
Other than that, Fletcher did not mention any other Flyers being diagnosed with injuries. There were some who played through minor issues. At the moment, no one is scheduled to have any kind of surgery. The exit physicals are being done virtually.
Fletcher spoke briefly on the status of Nolan Patrick. Patrick missed the entire season with a migraine disorder diagnosed last summer. Right now, he is living a mostly normal life. He has been skating, but the Flyers won’t know when he will be ready until he takes physical contact.
Fletcher did say they believe he will be ready to play sometime during the 2020-21 season. He downplayed the need to re-sign Patrick as he will be a free agent this offseason. The goal first and foremost is for him to get healthy.
With a lot of young players to be excited about, Fletcher took the time to discuss the development of Morgan Frost. Frost made his NHL debut, scoring a goal in each of his first two games. He was underwhelming during the rest of his time in the NHL. He finished with seven points in 20 games.
He had a strong season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, being named to the All-Star team in January. He has the skill and brings a lot of upside to the table. He is not without his faults, though. His biggest improvements need to come during his play without the puck. Adding strength has also always been something that has been said about him.
With the cap expected to stay where it is at for the next few years, the Flyers will almost certainly be sitting this one out. They have their own restricted and unrestricted free agents to worry about. And with about $8.9M to spend, it is going to be tough to bring everyone back.
That doesn’t mean the Flyers won’t try to be active with trades, though. Fletcher mentioned that he will be working the phones to see what is out there. Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk have been floating around in trade talks. In fact, there are near the top of the list in TSN’s Trade Bait Board.
Both have three years left on their contracts so it may take something extra to entice a team to make an offer. van Riemsdyk has a cap hit of $7M while Gostisbehere is at $4.5M. The latter may not take as much to get done, but it all depends on how the Flyers value him.
That being said, there are areas that the Flyers need to take a close look at. Defensive depth is something Fletcher spoke on. Could that mean they may hold on to someone like Gostisbehere? They have players like Cam York and Egor Zamula in the wings, both of which will need some more time to develop.
They have a plethora of young players who are waiting to make their impacts. So some of what they do moving forward could end up being in-house moves. What they will be allowed to do next season could make a big impact as well.
If the AHL season is to be delayed but the NHL continues on, there are questions on what teams can do with those young players.
As is every season, the Flyers will have certain areas they will need to focus on. We found out just a few of those from Chuck Fletcher himself.