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Flyers GM Talks Trades (Kevin Hayes?), the Future, and Needing More Talent

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Chuck Fletcher Philadelphia Flyers Free Agency

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher had his Trade-Deadline Address to the media after practice Tuesday in Voorhees.

Teams can make deals up to Friday’s 3 p.m. deadline, and Fletcher — whose Flyers have lost seven of their last eight games and fallen out of the playoff race — will obviously be a seller.

Among the topics he discussed:

Travis Konecny

He will be out “more than two weeks” and “we’ll have an update in three weeks,” Fletcher said.  Konecny, who has an upper-body injury, is hopeful he’ll play again this season. Fletcher said there is a chance he will, but that it was unknown at this point.

The trade market

Fletcher said he is open to all moves, big and small. Most of his calls have been on players with expiring contracts, like James van Riemsdyk and Justin Braun.

The GM will listen to offers for all players. He admitted it’s easier to make big trades in the summer because teams’ cap situations improve.

“But that doesn’t mean something can’t come up,” he said.

“We’re willing to listen to anything if it makes sense,” said Fletcher, adding he wants the team to get younger.

Kevin Hayes

Asked if he would consider moving Hayes, 30, at the deadline or in the future, Fletcher said: “Yeah, potentially. It’s a fair question. Again, it would depend on the market and opportunity and fit. We’ve expressed to teams we’re open to ideas and we’re willing to listen to lots of different types of scenarios.”

Hayes, who was moved to left wing early in the season, is having a career year. He made his first All-Star team and has 17 goals and 48 points.

Before Fletcher addressed the media, Hayes said he wants to stay in Philly. He said he would rather remain with the Flyers than get traded to a contender. If he had his preference, he said, he hoped the Flyers would acquire NHL players over draft picks.

After this season, Hayes has three years left on his contract, which has an annual $7.1 million cap hit. He has a 12-team, no-trade clause in his contract.

The future

“We need more high-end talent,” said Fletcher, who didn’t clear cap space to sign Johnny Gaudreau last summer. Gaudreau, a South Jersey native, wanted to come to Philadelphia.

Fletcher said the priority this year was to find out what the young players could do, and said the Philadelphia Flyers have the seventh-youngest roster in the NHL. “Last year, we were 30th, so we’re clearly getting younger,” Fletcher said.

He also said the team is fifth in the NHL in win-percentage improvement from last season.

That won’t excite a fan base that has seen one playoff series win in the last 11 years, including this season.

“It’s going to be a longer process than maybe what we want, but we’re starting to build the right way and integrating a lot of young players on the team,” Fletcher said.

What he wants in trades

“Picks or prospects. We want younger assets,” he said. “… Some combination of both would be great.”

Fletcher said several young Flyers have started establishing themselves as NHL players this season.

“The goal next year is, can two more kids push their way onto the team,” he said. “There’s a group of six or seven where those two can come from.”

Centers Cutter Gauthier and Elliot Desnoyers, winger Bobby Brink, defenseman Egor Zamula, and goalie Sam Ersson are among the top candidates.

James van Riemsdyk

Fletcher said he is open to retaining salary in deals, and we assume he was referring to van Riemsdyk, who could be headed to Fletcher’s old stomping grounds, Minnesota.

On Tuesday, JVR admitted that appealed to him because he lives there in the offseason.

The 2023 draft

Fletcher said generational center Connor Bedard is clearly the head of the pack, but added that “there’s another group of seven or eight players after that that we think are very good. We’re going to get an opportunity to get a very good player.”

The Flyers are currently No. 8 in the draft, but that could change in the final six weeks by how the fading team fares. The draft lottery, of course, could also alter things.

Breakaways

Hayes, van Riemsdyk, and and Wade Allison, each of whom had minor injuries and did not practice Monday, were on the ice Tuesday as the Flyers prepare to host the New York Rangers on Wednesday. … Desnoyers, recalled from the Phantoms on Monday, was also at the optional practice. … Coach John Tortorella missed practice because of a personal matter. … Rehabbing center Sean Couturier had another on-ice workout before the Flyers’ practiced. … Fletcher said one of the organization’s current priorities is making sure the Phantoms have enough talent to make an AHL playoff push this year. The Flyers are allowed four recalls after Friday’s trade deadline. … “Quite a few teams” have interest in defenseman Nick Seeler, per Fletcher.

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