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July 11, 2022

A franchise in denial? — What they're saying about the Flyers

Flyers NHL
Chuck-Fletcher-Flyers-GM-040819_USAT Zack Hill/Flyers

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher.

The NHL Draft came and went, though it probably didn't leave many fans feeling any better about the Flyers.

Marked by the fifth overall selection of Cutter Gauthier, the Flyers clearly prioritized size and the desire to be 'tougher to play against' with their 2022 draft haul, as all but their final pick in the seventh-round are 6'0" or taller.

Then there was the day 2 trade, when general manager Chuck Fletcher shipped out three draft picks over three years to Carolina for the offensive-minded and highly controversial defenseman Tony DeAngelo (plus a seventh-rounder), and added a two-year $10 million extension — a move that, among other concerns, ultimately spun the Flyers in one big, expensive, year-long circle.

Oh, by the way...

When it rains, it pours with this team.

Anyway, here's what they're saying about the Flyers, mainly the DeAngelo trade, after last week:

A key difference in Carolina

Kurt R. | Broad Street Hockey

DeAngelo's list of issues from juniors on through to the pros are well documented, but he was able to keep his head down with the Hurricanes.

That said, as Kurt R. over at Broad Street Hockey observed, there might have been a big reason why: Carolina is good. 

Before the Hurricanes signed DeAngelo to a one-year contract, he was on an Arizona Coyotes team going nowhere and then a rebuilding New York Rangers squad where the bulk of his problems festered. 

They weren't winning teams, and right now, neither are the Flyers. 

"The case, then, that DeAngelo, who turns 27 in October, has put any perceived and/or actual attitude problems behind him rests largely on this past season, during which he played with the Carolina Hurricanes. Your evaluation of him as a hockey player in that time (and throughout all of this) may vary, but there were no major character issues with him that were reported last year, and it sounds as though he was, by and large, liked by the people in that Hurricanes locker room. Which, as a fan of the team that now employs him, feels like good news.

"Yet there’s one crucial detail that seems important to note about those Hurricanes, particularly in comparison to the Rangers and Coyotes teams he was on before them, that probably to some extent helps explain why a guy who seems to have had problems in some of his stops in the past didn’t have any problems there:

"They won hockey games. A lot of them." [Broad Street Hockey]

In denial

Mike Sielski | The Inquirer ($)

And the fact that the Flyers can't recognize what they are is a much deeper problem. DeAngelo is a symptom of it, as the Inquirer's Mike Sielski writes that he's the 'wrong guy at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons.'

"They are rebuilding. No, correction: They should be rebuilding, not retooling. They should be looking to tomorrow, not living for today. They should not be thinking about next season, not in any meaningful, team-building way. They don’t have the organizational talent and depth to be sacrificing draft picks to fill an immediate need, which is all that DeAngelo, even in an ideal scenario, would do.

"The Flyers, especially with Ryan Ellis’ short- and long-term availability in such question, were shopping for a right-handed-shooting defenseman. DeAngelo is a right-handed-shooting defenseman, but his presence will do little beyond making what was an uncompetitive team last season marginally better next season." [The Inquirer]

As a hockey move

Greg Wyshynski | ESPN+ ($)

Okay, so let's step back for a second. As a straight-up hockey trade, how does this look?

Again, in terms of assets moved and who they got back, the Flyers went in a circle.

As ESPN's Greg Wyshynski writes, there are things DeAngelo brings to the table that the Flyers do need and the contract terms aren't too bad, which keeps the move from grading out worse. But two years is a long time for a player with DeAngelo's history. He has to stay in line.

Wyshynski gave the Flyers a C on the trade.

"Let's start with the obvious question: What compelled the Flyers to trade three draft assets to the Hurricanes for a restricted free agent that the Hurricanes would have theoretically walked away from this offseason? One assumes it's because they weren't the only team in the market for Tony DeAngelo, a right-handed shot, point-producing defenseman.

"But looking at the big picture, in the last year the Flyers have now traded a first-rounder, three second-rounders, a third-rounder, a fourth-rounder, Shayne Gostisbehere (in a salary dump) and Robert Hagg for the services of DeAngelo and Rasmus Ristolainen.

"As asset management goes ... well, there they went."

....

"There are some things to like here. DeAngelo can quarterback a power play. From a logistical standpoint, the Flyers had a need on the right side with Ryan Ellis expected to start the season on long-term injured reserve. While DeAngelo is expected to make $5 million against the salary cap, his term is only two years. Frankly, that term saves the grade from being lower.

"But a lot can happen in two years." [ESPN+]

As a PR move

Mary Clarke | For The Win (USA Today)

I think we all knew, PR-wise, this trade wasn't going to go over well with many. 

The Flyers continuously cited doing their "due diligence" after the move and had Kevin Hayes release a statement to assuage fans.

DeAngelo has his reputation, and for Mary Clarke over at USA Today, bringing him in speaks volumes of how far off the Flyers have fallen.

"You know, the Flyers used to be a paragon franchise in the NHL. Definitely not one of virtue, if their Broad Street Bullies moniker is anything to go by, but the Flyers brand used to mean something. It meant unyielding focus in the face of adversity. It meant passion and grit. Blood, sweat, and tears. “No one likes us, we don’t care” is the motto of Philadelphia sports fans, after all.

"But now, all I see in this Flyers franchise is cowardice. This is a franchise clinging to a bygone era of hockey and wishing it were 1975 again. No amount of wishing will turn back the clock and return the Flyers to the powerhouse they once were.

"All of this just to win a few extra hockey games? Is toting around DeAngelo’s pestilential baggage — spreading filth in his wake — worth it in the hope he can help the Flyers return to their former glory? Fletcher and the Flyers front office think so, and it’s a crying shame." [USA Today]

The Cup odds

Ed Barkowitz | The Inquirer

The sportsbooks don't have much faith in the Flyers anymore either. 

Ed Barkowitz took a look at the team's Stanley Cup odds across various outlets for The Inquirer. The one that stuck out most? SuperBook in Vegas with the Flyers at 100-1, determined by Ed Salmons, the book's vice president of risk management and a West Deptford High product.

"Last season, the Flyers were 30-1 and posted the second-worst season in franchise history, according to their .372 points percentage. They fired a coach and traded the longest-serving captain in team history. It must kill Salmons, a 1980 graduate of West Deptford High, to make the Flyers 100-1.

"“Not really,” the bookie shrugged. “They [haven’t been contenders] for a long time.”" [The Inquirer]

Ouch.


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