Busy Month Ahead for Flyers with Decisions Looming for Chuck Fletcher
In one month, the trade deadline will arrive and be the last chance the Flyers have at major in-season changes. There could be plenty to come in the next month.
For new GM Chuck Fletcher, who was hired on Dec. 3, he has watched the team have showings of success and losing stretches as well, but more importantly, he has had six weeks to get to know the players, see them on a regular basis, get familiar with the system, the organizational depth in the minors, even see the prospects.
Basically, the first month that Fletcher was hired was about two things. One was the decision to fire Dave Hakstol as head coach and promote Scott Gordon to interim head coach. The other was simply getting familiar with the situation and how he was going to address it.
He has already made trades, albeit minor ones, shipping off Jordan Weal and Taylor Leier for minor-league players and a sixth-round draft pick. That is only the beginning it would appear.
Weal was an easy trade target because of his expiring contract. You can throw Michael Raffl into the discussion on that identifier alone. If the player is not in the Flyers future plans and can be moved for assets of any kind, you typically take the deal and move on.
The biggest name in this situation is Wayne Simmonds. Fletcher has already acknowledged that a decision on Simmonds’ future with the Flyers will be made in the next month. At the deadline, he either remains a Flyer because has signed an extension or will be traded.
There is also the whole Dale Weise situation. Weise was placed on waivers last Tuesday, cleared on Wednesday and did not travel with the team for last Saturday’s win in Montreal, being told to stay home and away a possible trade. Weise remains on the Flyers roster now, but it’s clear he will likely be heading somewhere else.
In addition, who knows what else in play for the Flyers. Is a top name like Jake Voracek possibly available in a trade? Maybe the range of moves for now stays focused on depth players. What about defensemen? Is there a move to come among that group?
And goaltending remains a question here too, even with the emergence of Carter Hart. The Flyers want to add a veteran netminder who can serve as Hart’s backup. The problem is they have two veteran goalies under contract for the remainder of the season that aren’t moveable due to injury history.
Any roster decisions have to be done with the future in mind. If a player is acquired, they have to factor into the future. More likely, moves will be made to stockpile assets that can help in future moves or clear space for pending free agents.
The Flyers management saw the biggest changes during the first half of the season and the changes to the roster have started with some minor moves. That could all change in the next month as Fletcher starts to put his stamp on the team’s roster moving forward.
With just 30 days until the trade deadline, it will be an interesting month for the current Flyers and an important month to the team’s future.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.