Better luck next year: The Philadelphia Flyers have no idea what they are doing
They need to break this cycle of mediocrity, but how can they do that?
Welcome to Better Luck Next Season. As each NHL team gets eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention, and then the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we will take a look at what went wrong, what went right, and what sits ahead for them. The Philadelphia Flyers were the seventh team to be eliminated from playoff contention and that should not be a surprise for this directionless team.
The rebuilding teams.
The unlucky teams.
The clueless, poorly run teams that have no idea what they are doing.
The Flyers fit into the third category, continuing a sustained run of mediocrity that has now seen them miss the playoffs in seven of the past 11 seasons, including each of the past three.
As with most perpetually bad teams, it starts at the top in Philadelphia with management that has not only failed to bring any sort of identity or plan to the table, but has also been consistently awful in its actual construction of the roster.
If they are trying to rebuild, they are failing.
If they are trying to compete, they are failing even worse.
The general managers change. The coaches change. The players change. The only thing that does not change is the results or the quality of the roster.
Back in January of 2022 the Flyers talked a big game about how they were going to give recently fired general manager Chuck Fletcher a “blank check” to fix the franchise and finally get it going in the right direction.
But the offseason was just a haphazard shitshow that saw the team miss out on every big free agent and potential trade target, not even make an offer to Johnny Gaudreau — who seemed destined to be a Flyer — because they did not have the salary cap space to do so, and then trade THREE draft picks for Tony DeAngelo, just one year after trading two draft picks (including the No. 36 overall pick in the draft!) so they could dump the contract of Shayne Gostisbehere …. who is the exact same player as DeAngelo, only with a better contract that expires after this season and without the distraction of being a total dipshit of a person.
That series of transactions perfectly sums up the mess that Flyers management has been in recent years. There is no coherent plan or direction. And that is on top of the whole Rasmus Ristolainen experience that also took place before the 2021-22 season.
In the one-year span between July 2021 and July 2022 the Flyers essentially made the following deals to their defense:
No. 14 pick in 2021
No. 36 pick in 2022
Second-round pick in 2023 (which will be VERY high)
Second-round pick in 2024 (also probably very high)
Third-round pick in 2023
Fourth-round pick in 2022
Seventh-round pick in 2022
Seventh-round pick in 2022
Then they made sure to pay those two defensemen a combined salary cap hit of over $10 million per season.
I have no problem with good teams trading boat loads of draft picks for players that might give them a chance to win. But that is not what happened here. This is complete madness. Not all of those picks are going to turn out to be good NHL players because draft picks, especially those in the 14-50 range, are total crapshoots. But when you have that many picks in that range over a couple year stretch I am willing to bet the Flyers traded away at least ONE pretty good future NHL Player there.
And for what?
A bowl of mashed potatoes that is incapable of making roster transactions would have left the Flyers in a better position.
(There was another defense trade in that time period but we will get to that in a minute.)
I am not even a Flyers fan and all of this has me heated.
The most notable thing the Flyers did do this past offseason was bring in John Tortorella to be the head coach. The funny thing about Tortorella is that he seemed to be the only person that acknowledged the harsh reality with the team. While management refused to acknowledge the team was rebuilding, Tortorella kept talking from the very beginning how far away they were. Maybe that was by design. Maybe they wanted him to be the messenger to the fans. Or maybe he was just the only one that saw how bad it was. Either way, that is a bad look for the team because John Tortorella should not be your voice of reason, and your head coach should not be delivering the bad news to the people about how far away the team is from contending. That is management’s job.
As far as the job Tortorella has done, I think it is exactly what you would expect.
The Flyers play hard, he squeezes everything he can out of the talent that he has, but they are simply not good enough for any coach to make a difference.
What went wrong for the Flyers
Aside from being poorly constructed with no real vision or identity, the Flyers have also been hit with brutal luck on the injury front in recent years.
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