It is very, very easy to write off Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher as some kind of oaf. Several of his draft picks haven’t turned out too well. There are many contracts that have been signed that have been head scratchers; along with some of his trades. Many in the Flyers fandom, including myself, have called for his head…well, not literally…but you get the idea.
To be fair, we don’t know all the things a GM has to deal with. Between the coach, the fans, the ownership, salary cap, other GMs, players, etc. Some of the criticism can be unwarranted. However, when you strike out many times, it calls your competence into question. And many Flyers fans were upset last year when Fletcher missed out on a top player that everyone felt had to be “ours”.
Many of these calls came last year when Johnny Gaudreau was a free agent. Johnny G is a local boy who had hinted at wanting to play for the Flyers as a kid. He was going to be a free agent for the first time. The Flyers had just lost Claude Giroux. It seemed destined. And then he picked Columbus….because he liked the cannon?
Fast forward six months later. As bad as the Flyers have been this year, they are not in the cellar. That honor goes to the Columbus Blue Jackets. They’ve been wretched this year. Whereas the Flyers have had a lot of injuries, they’ve ridden most of them out to at least be competitive. CBJ has pretty much given up with all they’ve had.
Gaudreau, well, he’s hurt right now. Also, he hasn’t been very good. He’s put up 15 goals and 37 assists for 52 points in 55 games. Kevin Hayes has two more goals and six less assists in the same amount of games. Hayes is also making $1.5 million less. Owen Tippet has one more goal and is making 13% of his salary.
There were many people who were upset that Gaudreau didn’t sign here in Philly. However, it looks as if Fletcher’s non-move turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The last thing this team needed was a bloated contract to a player playing at a mediocre level. We got enough of those right now and can’t afford any moving forward. Statistically, this could end up being the worst of Gaudreau’s career. Maybe it is a just an off year or maybe it is a sign of things to come; like James van Riemsdyk’s steady decline over the last few seasons.
Maybe he would’ve been better in Philly. Maybe not. But for this, I tip my hat to Fletcher. And hopefully, I will do it again next week following any moves made during the trade deadline. But it does make you realize that sometimes making the splashiest move in the offseason isn’t always the best thing for you and your team.