Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher held his annual midseason press conference to discuss the state of the team on Wednesday afternoon. After the Flyers fell flat on Tuesday night, it was bound to be an interesting presser.
Fletcher said all of the things that a general manager should say. He can’t throw anyone under the bus and create chaos in the organization or devalue them ahead of potentially selling at the trade deadline. There weren’t any eye-popping quotes, calling out of players, or blaming the coaches.
With all of that being said, there were still a few quotes worth reading into. He didn’t shy away from saying that the Flyers have underperformed this season. In fact, he even spoke about the team needing a change.
Chuck Fletcher on buying vs. selling
Despite the Flyers’ freefall in March, they’re “certainly not looking at selling right now,” Chuck Fletcher said to open his press conference.
While he hasn’t received as many calls, Fletcher has “made many” and he thinks he’s “been much more aggressive than a lot of people just looking at different options.”
Fletcher is open to improving the team in both the short-term as well as the long-term. It just has to make sense.
“Anything we do, we want to make sure it makes sense,” Fletcher said. “If we can fill a box for the long-term right now, we can potentially explore that. Certainly, if we can upgrade our team, we’ll do that.”
Fletcher may have been noncommital in his opening responses, but he acknowledged the Flyers’ need for change later in the press conference.
One of the most important Fletcher quotes came when asked abot the play of Erik Gustafsson.
Chuck Fletcher, Flyers ‘need to address’ group ‘to get the right mix’
He touched on the fact that a lot of players have had inconsistent performances and that Gustafsson, in particular, is as advertised. However, it was how he finished answering the question that was the most telling.
“I think the makeup of our group probably is not right, I think that’s a fair comment,” Fletcher said. “I think we do need to address that going forward to get the right mix.”
There weren’t a lot of quotes to pull from the press conference, but that is the main one. And it’s a pretty important one in the grand scheme of things. As said at the top, Fletcher can’t come out and throw people under the bus. Even with the Flyers in freefall this month, they aren’t completely out of the playoff race and can turn it around.
Fletcher coming out and saying that the “makeup of our group probably is not right” and they “need to address that going forward to get the right mix” is what fans should want to hear. He knows the team is underperforming and playing poorly this month. He knows that the team needs a change.
Flyers’ trade deadline options
While it would be nice for Fletcher to pull a trade out of a hat, most deals happen around the deadline for a reason. The market will be clearer and teams have a better idea of what they want to do. By April 12th, the Flyers will know if they can go all-in for this season, add a rental option for a little push, make a hockey trade for the future, or sell off some assets. There’s also the option for them to both buy and sell in an opportunistic market.
Now, after saying that the Flyers need a change to get the right mix, Fletcher needs to go out and back up his words with action.
The Flyers have been linked to multiple defensemen on multiple teams. Nashville Predators blueliners Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis are the top targets.
The Arizona Coyotes have a few defensemen (Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski, mainly) that the Flyers could use as rental options.
There are less than three weeks to the trade deadline for Fletcher to put his money where his mouth is.
Photo: Heather Barry Images