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Flyers at the Trade Deadline: Can Fletcher Get off Hot Seat?



Ivan Provorov
The Flyers are listening to offers for defenseman Ivan Provorov. The trade deadline is Friday at 3 p.m. Photo: AP.

The Philadelphia Flyers have virtually put a “For Sale” sign across the front and back of Kevin Hayes’ jersey.

Hayes, 30, is having a very good year, but his contract — a $7.1 million cap hit in each of the next three seasons — probably will prevent him from being dealt before Friday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.

Let’s hope the Flyers didn’t crush his spirit (and, in effect, his production) by their willingness to say adios. After all, it’s not easy to perform when you don’t feel wanted.

With the deadline nearing, the Flyers are trying to deal Hayes, and three players with expiring contracts: James van Riemsdyk, Justin Braun, and Patrick Brown.

A second- sixth- and seventh-round pick for each player, respectively, would be a good return. Let’s see if general manager Chuck Fletcher can get it done.

Seeler, Provy in play

Physical Nick Seeler, 29, is also in play, and he could bring a fourth-rounder. The shot-blocking defenseman is under contract next season for a bargain price ($775,000), and there’s no need to deal him if you don’t get what you want.

Fletcher is also reportedly listening to offers on Ivan Provorov, who seems to need a change of scenery if he is going to develop into a true No. 1 defenseman.

Coach John Tortorella pumped up Provorov in his media availability Thursday, saying he “has been really good” and a “great competitor.”

Does Tortorella believe it, or was he trying to inflate his trade value?

Provorov, 26, who wants to remain in Philadelphia, is a warrior. Plays in all situations, is a fitness freak, and is Mr. Durability. He eats lots of minutes, blocks lots of shots.

That said, he is having another underachieving season. He is on pace to finish with five goals and 29 points. The goal total would be a career low, and the point total would be his second-worst in an 82-game season.

And only three NHL defenseman — Erik Karlsson, Darnell Nurse, and Jonathan Kovacevic — have more giveaways this season than Provorov.

So if you can get a first-round pick and a quality prospect, you make the deal.

Is Fletcher capable of making some big-time trades to improve his direction-less franchise?

Based on his track record, doubts are everywhere.

Few good trades

Aside from his Claude Giroux trade, and his acquisition of Matt Niskanen (who retired after one season), Fletcher has not hit any home runs.

Most of his deals have been weak-hit grounders to the pitcher. The Shayne Gostisbehere trade — one in which he gave Arizona second- and seventh-round picks to make the deal and take his salary — was a disaster.

Before this season, Fletcher sent three draft picks (second-, third- and fourth-rounders) to Carolina for offensive-minded defenseman Tony DeAngelo and a seventh-round pick. DeAngelo is a righthanded version of Gostisbehere, and he was acquired with the idea of getting into the playoffs. (And in addition to losing draft capital in both trades, he paid DeAngelo more than Gostisbehere was making.)

Playoffs? This team needed to be gutted, needed to go young, needed a total rebuild.

Fletcher, however, misread his roster. To be fair, at the time he didn’t know Cam Atkinson and Sean Couturier would likely miss this season.

Now the general manager is hoping to have a fire sale, trying to get younger, trying to stockpile draft picks and prospects.

In other words, he is following Ron Hextall’s plan. Hextall was fired and replaced by Fletcher.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Anyway, Friday is important for Fletcher. He doesn’t need to hit a home run in the trade market, but a couple of standup doubles would work.

Heck, even a bloop single. Get some prospects or draft picks that will help at some point. Start a true rebuild.

In his four-plus years in Philadelphia, Fletcher has been passive in both the trade and free-agent markets. He needs to be bold, needs to think outside the box.

His current style has gotten him nowhere — except on the hot seat

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