Flyers: Players should be blamed if no major move made at trade deadline

Flyers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Flyers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

It is that time of the season again for the Flyers and every other NHL team looking to beef up their roster for a long playoff run. Chuck Fletcher might be on the phones.

With the trade deadline happening in less than a month, you begin to see the rumor mill churning faster and faster.  For Philadelphia, the name that has been constantly linked to them is Mattias Ekholm, the long-time Nashville Predator’s defenseman.

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It’s no secret that Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher’s biggest failure the last offseason was not being able to replace Matt Niskanen, which the defense corps has never really recovered from.  Mattias Ekholm would solve a lot of those problems, but according to some NHL insiders, it seems that the Flyers are balking at the chance to acquire him.

Sportnet’s Elliot Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts article brought us some insight into the way of thinking on a potential Ekholm trade:

"I’m not convinced Philadelphia is going to do it — not certain they feel this is the year to pay the cost. (Of course, whenever I say that to people, they reply, “Come on, these are the Flyers you’re talking about.” Maybe the Chuck Fletcher/Dean Lombardi Flyers are different.)"

Needless to say, fans were outraged, narrowing that anger strictly towards Chuck Fletcher as a “do nothing” GM.  But is it fair to lay the blame strictly on Fletcher’s shoulders, should there be no major movement at the deadline?  I don’t think so, at least not entirely.

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Let’s be honest here:  If there’s anyone to be angry at about the organization going conservative in the trade market, it should be the players themselves.  Key players have not been executing, the process has looked bad, and they’ve fallen out of a playoff position.

The team’s play was always going to be a major driver of how big Chuck Fletcher would be willing to go on deadline day, and with the way they’re playing right now, I wouldn’t hold my breath for some major movement within the season.

If they can turn it around and show that they’re the same team that they were pre-COVID, then I believe Chuck Fletcher would absolutely spend the assets needed to make a “deadline day splash” that will give the team a legitimate chance at the Cup.

But that’s the thing: Philadelphia doesn’t look anywhere close to being cup contenders at the moment, and even if they added a big-ticket player, I’m not sure how much that would honestly change. You can’t completely fault Chuck Fletcher if he looks at the roster and is hesitant, as moves for the sake of moves are often disastrous.

At the same time, I’m not totally ignorant to fan frustration.  I’m in agreement that the team needs a shake-up.  Some fans have some fears that the Flyers have somewhat lost their way as an organization that did whatever it took to be competitive.

I also think that Fletcher is not Ron Hextall.  I believe him, and to a lesser extent Dave Scott, when they say they are going to be looking at ways to make the team better, that they’ll be more active, and that two things can be true:  We can want this team to make moves to break what seems like almost a decade of stagnation, but we can also want our GM to go about it in an intelligent way.