A few months ago the Philadelphia Flyers relieved general manager Chuck Fletcher of his duties. His failure to make any relevant moves at the trade deadline pretty much sealed his doom. However, to be honest, it looked like he may have been in trouble since last season as fan ire began to rise heavily.
And if we are being fair, he inherited a bunch of problems (poor drafts, high salaries) from his predecessor, Ron Hextall. You can’t be totally blamed for putting out a dumpster fire when all you have is an old fashioned squirt gun to put it out.
In four years of drafts from 2014-2018, Hextall made some major blunders. His first round selections of Travis Sanheim, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Morgan Frost, and Joel Farabee have paid dividends; even if Sanheim and Provy are somewhat controversial. His first round selections of Nolan Patrick, German Rubtsov, and Jay O’Brien have been unmitigated disasters.
The only draft picks left on the Flyers from Hexy’s days are, besides the five mentioned above: Cooper Marody, Felix Sandstrom, Tanner Laczynski, Linus Hogberg, Carter Hart, Wade Allison, Olle Lycksell, Noah Cates, Sam Ersson, and Adam Ginning. There were 42 picks made by Hextall. Fourteen have never seen the NHL with three of them being a first or second round pick. And to be fair, one of those who haven’t played in the NHL is Ivan Fedotov.
Fletcher also had four drafts here in Philadelphia from 2019-2022. His first round picks have been: Cam York, Tyson Foerster, and Cutter Gauthier. York had a fine rookie season. Foerster had a brief appearance in the NHL, but really impressed John Tortorella. Gauthier is up and coming, but his future looks bright.
In addition, other Fletcher selections have already played in the NHL. 2019 selections Bobby Brink and Ronnie Attard have showcased their talents. Elliot Desnoyers, a fifth rounder from 2020, also had a brief call up this season. Others, like Emil Andrae appear to be waiting to make their mark.
When dealing with sports, sometimes things take a while before you know how they will turn out. A lot of the 2008 Phillies World Championship team were traded for and drafted by Ed Wade. If you want some hockey examples, Ron Francis was the GM of the Carolina Hurricanes from 2014-2018…the same amount of time as Hextall. In that time, Francis drafted Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas. Those guys are two of the core members of the current Carolina team. Others, like Warren Foegele, Noah Hanifin, Jake Bean, and Alex Nedeljkovic were used to acquire other players and more draft picks to fit the team.
Fletcher’s term as Flyers general manager looks like a hot dumpster fire right now. A lot of trades and free agents just didn’t work out. However, if some of the draft picks that Fletcher made pan out over the next few years, that chapter of Flyers history may have to be rewritten. A young corps of players like Frost, Farabee, Gauthier, Brink, York, Attard, Cates, etc. could resemble the young post-Bully Era Flyers of the 1980s that were perennial contenders. All we have to do is see how all this plays out. All we can do is hope for the best.