Chuck Fletchers 5 best moves as GM of Flyers, so far
Chuck Fletcher has a history of making big moves. After all, he was the GM when the Minnesota Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13-year contracts. Chuck has never been gun shy to make a big move, whether that was a FA signing or a trade. After taking over the Philadelphia Flyers for Ron Hextall on December 3rd of 2018, Fletcher (to our hope) has learned since being the Wild GM and become a better GM from it. I’m going to be breaking down my 5 (in no order) favorite Chuck Fletcher moves as GM of the Philadelphia Flyers.
#5: Trading for Kevin Hayes’ rights + signing him
Chuck Fletchers first big trade as Flyers GM was trading a 2019 5th round pick, which ended up becoming Harrison Blaisdell, for C Kevin Hayes. When the news first dropped, you would’ve thought we signed Vinncent Lecavalier (again) straight from his retirement house in Tampa. Twitter was going nuts. “Overpaid”, “He’s not good”, “I would’ve rather signed Matt Duchene”. The whole nine yards.
Kevin Hayes is a really good hockey player. He showed that in New York when he played with Alain Vigneault. He’s mentioned multiple times that he wouldn’t be the player he is today if it wasn’t for Vigneault. He was a player that only thought about the offensive side of the game when he first came into the league, Vingeault helped him develop a two-way game and stressed how if you play the right way and are responsible in your own zone, the offense chances will come.
In his first season with the Flyers he put up 23G-18A-41P in 69GP. The numbers don’t tell the whole story of Hayes’ first year with Philly. Hayes came in and helped a PK, where in the year before had a kill percentage of 78.48%, to an improved 80.77%. Not to mention his four clutch short-handed goals. Here’s one just to get your hockey juices flowing.
Put the stellar first regular season in his new city aside, Hayes was arguably the best forward for us come playoff time. He led the team with 13 points, scoring four goals and dishing out 9 assists.
Hayes has not only been a terrific addition to this team on the ice with his production but also off the ice as well. He’s been letting teammate Nolan Patrick live with him while he recovers from his migraine issues. I can only imagine how fun it is to come to work everyday and hangout with him, he’s hilarious. Did you know he used to ref?
Chucks was able to add a terrific two-way, penalty killing, joke crackin’ center and an even better person. 6 more years of Hayes’ baby!
#4: Trading for Matt Niskanen
I don’t really care that Niskanen retired little earlier then the Flyers expected, that move is still going on this list. Fletcher traded Radko Gudas with 30% of his salary retained straight up for Matt Niskanen. The Flyers didn’t only get better just because Matt Niskanen is a better hockey player then Radko Gudas but Niskanen was exactly what Ivan Provorov needed to take that next step in his development. I can’t express how important it was getting a guy like Niskanen into the locker room, even if it was only for one year. A guy who’s been there and done that, has a cup, been around the game for years and is actively good. That one year of Niskanen with the way he does things everyday and how he was just an all-around pro, will rub off on guys. He’s what a veteran defenseman should look like, not Andrew MacDonald.
Niskanen did enough from the sole fact that he let Provorov do his thing and really take his offensive game to the next level. You could tell how much more comfortable Provorov was jumping up into the play knowing he had Niskanen backing him up. Niskanen was second on the team behind Provorov (24:50) in TOI/G, logging 21:54 minutes a night. A total warrior in the backend.
Niskanen play dipped off a little in the bubble, at first I brushed it off as an older player jumping back into playoff hockey after being stagnant with no hockey for months. As the games went along the play continued to dip off, you often found yourself asking where the Niskanen from the regular season went. Whether it was just him not being warmed up after going months without hockey or if he really regressed in that little time is something we’ll never know. I’m going to go with what I saw for 68 games in the regular season and say he was just rusty. The one year we got of Niskanen was fun, the team loved him and so did this fanbase.
Enjoy retirement, Nisky, we’ll miss ya.
#3: Hiring Alain Vingeault
I mentioned earlier how Kevin Hayes says he has Vingeault to thank for the player he is today and that nice new contract he received. A absolute breath of fresh air, Vigneault brings a calm presence among the team and gets respect from every player. He doesn’t care if you’re a rookie or if you’re making $9 million a season, if you’re playing like crap, he’s going to let you know.
The players respect Vigneault and know what he’s accomplished as a coach in the NHL. It helps having a player like Kevin Hayes, who’s a big part of this team know what to expect and sort of ease the transition to a new coach for his teammates.
He turned a team that was lost at 37-37-8 to a team that looks like their window is wide open. In his first year he brought the Flyers to the playoffs going 41-21-7 in the regular season and was one win away from going to the ECF. Many more martinis for Vigneault in the future!
#2: Locking up Ivan Provorov for 6 years
Ivan Provorov is this teams #1 defenseman, he’s the workhorse who logs 24 minutes a game and doesn’t seem like he gets tired doing it. After having a good rookie year putting up 6G-24A-30P in 82GP and another solid year after that going for 17G-24A-41P in 82GP. Provorov was getting into a groove and showing fans why the Flyers selected him 7th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry draft.
Then the 2018-2019 season happened and people started questioning how good Ivan Provorov really is. 26 points in 82 game for a defenseman. There were arguments on how Provorov’s numbers weren’t elite and led most to believe he was an average defenseman. This is the year the counter argument of “He passes the eye test” wasn’t an excuse. He looked noticeably bad. Bad turnovers, poor zone exits, offensive zone chances that ended before they even began. He started the year off playing with Shayne Gostisbehere and finished it playing alongside Travis Sanheim. Playing in a Dave Hakstol system will do that, plus the Flyers weren’t a good team, at all.
Provorov answered those people this year by leading all defenseman in the NHL with 7 power-play goals. Kris Letang and Alex Pietrangelo tied for second with 6 power-play goals. Pretty good for a defenseman that actively hurts his team, right? I talked about how Provorov, paired with Niskanen this year, looked extremely comfortable jumping up on the play and doing his thing. Remember this goal?
Provorov scored the overtime winner to send the Flyers to a Game 7, logging 38:15 in Game 6. The dude is an absolute monster. He finished the playoffs with 3G-5A-8P in 16GP.
Chuck Fletcher locked up Provorov for 6 years with an aav of $6.75. Here’s a breakdown of the contract for each year.
Getting Provorov, your unquestioned number one defenseman locked up for 6-years for under $7 million dollars is a good deal. It’s not an overpayment but he’s also not being underpaid. No contract is guaranteed to work out and not every player lives up to their expectations. There’s risk, sure. He could fall back into his 2018-2019 self and look completely lost again. A lot of things could happen, he could take what he learned from Niskanen last year, builds off the stellar year he had and just take off. Most likely playing alongside Phil Myers, I’m really excited to see if Provorov can continue his success without Niskanen.
#1: Locking up Travis Konecny
I can already hear it now…
“He sucked in the playoffs” “0 goals in the playoffs is unacceptable”
Yeah, I get it. It’s extremely frustrating to watch a guy hold out in the beginning of camp, new coach and all. Get his 6-year extension worth $5.5 million a year and not score a single goal in the playoffs. I get it, and to be honest it is unacceptable. I’m sure Konecny would tell you the same thing. This is probably the most eventful thing he did in the playoffs.
I’m not about to sit here and act like months before the world got flipped upside down, Konency didn’t put up season highs in points (61) and assists (37) while tying a season-high in goals (24). He was well on his way to shatter his career high in goals if it wasn’t for the Covid-19 stoppage.
Konency has put up points since he joined the league in 2016-2017. Each year his point totals have gone up.
2016-2017: 11G-17A-28P in 70GP
2017-2018: 24G-23A-47P in 81GP
2018-2019: 24G-25A-49P in 82GP
2019-2020: 24G-37A-61P in 66GP
We know what Konecny is, he’s a highly skilled, always in your face, high motor player. He’s been a fan favorite since his rookie year. He had his first playoff taste in 2018 against a much better team in Pittsburgh and scored his first playoff goal ever.
While that series was nice playoff experience, the Flyers were outmatched by a better Penguins team so Konecny wouldn’t see another playoff round until the bubble. 7 assists in 16 games when you’re the teams leading scorer isn’t good. If you watched the playoffs you would’ve seen Konency struggling to score but chances weren’t nonexistent. Many, including myself thought he might’ve been playing through injury but it seemed like he still has his quick bursts and little shimmy moves going. He was snake bitten a tad.
Chuck Fletcher didn’t want Konecny going anywhere, not giving him a 3-year bridge deal shows me the Flyers view this kid very highly. $5.5 is great value for a guy who lead your team in goals in the regular season and is only 23 years old. He’s still a kid. Other players hate playing against him, opposing fans hate when their teams play against him, he’s the perfect Flyer and he’s ours. I understand being a little weary on Konecny after being the leading goal scorer all season and putting up a goose egg in the playoffs. There’s nothing wrong with holding a player accountable, but let’s not act like he’s some scrub the Flyers gave a huge contract to for no reason. He makes every player around him better with his speed, hands and lighting quick shot. The line combination of Giroux – Frost – Konecny was so fun to watch for the little time they were together.
Coming to a hockey rink near you, soon.
Locking up Phil Myers
Undrafted rookie who got cut by the Calgary Flames and signed with the Flyers in 2015 by former Flyers GM, Ron Hextall.
6’5, 215 pound right handed defenseman who can skate like the wind don’t come walking out of the draft very often, the Flyers got a diamond in the rough with Myers. 16 points and a +17 rating in 50 games playing alongside Travis Sanhiem (mostly). Myers gives the Flyers 3 years of control while setting himself up for a payday if he’s able to step in this season and take the spot left by Matt Niskanen. Myers is the only other right handed defenseman on the team besides Mark Friedman, who I don’t think the Flyers want playing top pairing minutes with Ivan Provorov. Myers and Provorov have played together when Niskanen was out with the flu in December. Both players had plus ratings on the game with Myers adding in one assist.
I like this move by Chuck with both sides giving in a little. The Flyers would’ve probably liked to go a little longer with the term and Myers gives himself a chance to get paid in 3 years if he continues to grow and develop as a player.
Myers had a good playoffs this year. I thought the Sanhiem – Myers pair looked really good against the Canadiens but unfortunately ran into problems with the Islanders heavy and tenacious forechecking, Although both young defenseman struggled, Myers handled it better and honestly looked better then Sanhiem. He was stronger on the puck, made quick decisive plays in his own zone and even potted a OT winner.
Myers comes into this season with a brand new contract and is looking to jump up and play alongside Ivan Provorov. The Flyers have shown a ton of confidence in Myers and their young crop of defenseman, I’m looking for Myers to fill that spot that Niskanen left and look good doing it. He’s not going to be able to come in and replace what Niskanen brought on a locker room level, but he’ll look to try and ease the burden a little with solid play.
It’s not very hard to play with a guy like Ivan Provorov, buckle up Flyers fans, this season is going to be fun.
Chuck Fletcher joined the Flyers with a talented roster, a franchise goalie and one of the best prospect pool in all of hockey. He came in and traded away Jordan Weal, bought out Andrew MacDonald, called up Carter Hart, signed Kevin Hayes and much more. It’s a good start for Chuck, I’m excited to see what this season brings. Go Flyers.
Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images