The Flyers Can Learn From The Eagles Mistakes

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Nolan Patrick poses for photos after being selected second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Nolan Patrick poses for photos after being selected second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Before you even start reading this, I can already hear the comments. “This is about the Flyers and hockey, not about the Eagles and football.” You are correct. I am also well aware that the NHL and NFL are vastly different sports. I know their salary cap structures are different. The way the organizations are built are different. The fact that there is no minor league for the NFL is different than what the Flyers and other teams face. Yada, yada, yada.

Even with all that said, there are some parallels that can be drawn. The Eagles have made some very critical mistakes in their drafts in recent years and have had to make some moves to correct them. In that sense, the Flyers, and most specifically Chuck Fletcher, should take some notes. He can learn quite a lot from Howie Roseman than he can apply to the rinks.

Know When to Cut Ties

Sports is an emotional thing. Fans get attached to players and we don’t want to see them traded, moved, or retired. We all felt something when Claude Giroux left. Many players formed a special bond with Oskar Lindblom. Other players in the recent past, like Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds, also had a large following of Flyers fans that miss them a lot.

But sometimes, you gotta know when to let someone go. With veteran players this can be easy. Maybe they are going to be free agents and you know you are going to lose them. Maybe you are going to have to free up salary cap space. Maybe the vet, no matter how popular, doesn’t have it anymore.

What if the player is young? We saw this these last few weeks with the Eagles trading away JJ Arcega-Whiteside to the Seahawks and Jalen Reagor to the Vikings. Both of these guys came in with high expectations, being second-round and first-round picks respectively. Both of them performed well in college. It didn’t happen on the NFL level for whatever reason.

Likewise, some of the Flyers recent draft picks have not panned out. Nolan Patrick couldn’t stay healthy. Neither could Cam York, Bobby Brink, German Rubtsov, Wade Allison, or Sam Morin. Now, to be fair, you can’t predict an injury. Reagor got injured in his first season and never seemed to get his mojo back. Injuries happen and they are tragic.

The Eagles are moving in a new direction and decided to cut dead weight. Reagor and Whiteside no longer fit into the plans. Likewise, Patrick and Rubtsov were both traded away. Brink, York, and other young guys need to step up. If not, they will find themselves pushed aside by someone who can do the job.

Talent is at the Top of the Draft, but Depth Comes Later

If you look at the Eagles roster, you have your stars that have come through the top of the draft in the first three rounds. That’s where you find your top talent, usually. However, many of the Eagles players came later on. Jason Kelce may go down as one of the best sixth-round picks in the history of the game. Quez Watkins was a sixth-rounder. Rising star Jordan Mailata was a seventh-rounder. Josh Jobe, who looks like he could be a capable defender, was undrafted. Howie Roseman has had a habit of finding gems in the later rounds.

While Chuck Fletcher has missed a lot in the recent drafts, he, and the Flyers, have had some big finds later on, but few recently.  Ivan Fedotov could be one of these finds if he ever can escape from Russia. Tanner Laczynski could be another one if he can stay healthy.

While you want your top end draft picks to be the guys you build your team around, your lower draft picks fill in the holes you need to fill. This is important. The Flyers have not been very successful in recent years in bringing this talent to the bigs.

Reboots Don’t Work, Build For Now AND Future

When the Eagles traded for AJ Brown, it almost looked like the Eagles where in a “win-now” mode. And they kind of are in the sense that they have made the moves that a team needs to make if they want to win and be successful. In one year, they went from a projected bottom dweller to a surprise playoff team to possible NFC title contenders.

The Eagles are not in a “win-now” mode. They have vets like Kelce, Fletcher Cox, and Brandom Graham who are nearing the end of their great careers. But they also have a lot of young stars coming up who are eager to contribute and ready to play. If all goes well, this could be a good team for years to come. Thanks to good drafting and good trades, Roseman has made this team into a legitimate threat. Not only that, but the Birds still have about $2.3 million in cap space thanks to Howie’s financial wizardry.

As for the Flyers, last season looked promising as trades were made for Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen. Then everyone got hurt and the season stank. Now, the Flyers don’t have a lot of salary cap to play around with. They can’t get a lot in the way of reinforcements if someone gets hurt. The bigger issue is, because of contracts, this will haunt the Flyers for years to come.

The Flyers are also not in a reboot or a rebuild. They are kind of static. The team seems to be waiting on young players to step up and vets to lead them. Another season like last year’s and they can be in big trouble that could take years to undo. Without a clear vision, this could take awhile.


Between the coaches and the front office, the Eagles have an established culture. The Flyers have lost some sense of that. They need to get it back. Perhaps Coach John Tortorella can rebuild some of what was lost. He certainly seems excited to be here and maybe that enthusiasm can spark something in a team that has lost its edge over the years.

The Eagles have focused on winning now, but always looking ahead. They gave young players chances, but in the end some of them had to go. Same with the vets. Roseman hasn’t always struck gold, but he is quick enough to realize when he made a mistake. Plus, he has proven he can fix a problem if and when it starts to go sideways.

I can’t say the Flyers have done so well at that. Some players we have hung onto far too long. Others, we can’t seem to get rid of. Sometimes you don’t get top dollar price for something you are trying to unload. We’ve had far too many coaching changes to make a consistent culture and climate here. Players are brought in that may or may not fit the climate we are building; if we are building one at all.

Maybe Chuck needs to cross the street, have a sit-down with Howie, and learn something. This future of this team may depend on it.