This season has been a disappointment, there’s no two-ways about it. The Flyers were supposed to build off of their achievements from last year and get over that second-round hump. They’re on the cusp of being eliminated from playoff contention currently, so it looks like that just won’t happen. It doesn’t take a PhD to realize that this team isn’t performing up to snuff.
Loathe the guy all you want, but ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski brings up an interesting point. On April 16th, Wyshynski tweeted out the following:
Whether it was a shared sentiment among more than just the General Manager Wyshynski is speaking of or it became the sentiment after dealing with multiple teams taking COVID breaks throughout the season, it seems valid in the Flyers case. Philadelphia seems to be going through the motions out there. No drive, no extra umph, this team is falling flat on a near-nightly basis. Performance aside, are the Flyers completely in the wrong to “pack it in,” and call it a season? Right now, not really. They won’t make the playoffs so why not pack it in and play some younger players to get a feel for what they might bring at the next level?
While there are positives to that type of approach, if you want to call them positives, there are setbacks to calling it a season and looking forward to next year.
This may be the biggest setback to packing it in. While you can argue it’s a positive because the Flyers appear to have some tough contracts on the books, a la Voracek, Hayes, and van Riemsdyk, there are others that they are getting at a bargain.
Sean Couturier, one of the premier defensive forwards in the league is on one of the best value contracts in the league currently. He’s making $4.33 million per year until the end of next season. With his extension looming, maximizing that value right now should have been priority number one entering this season. The Flyers failed to do just that. Another year wasted of one of the best contracts in the league, and another year closer they come to having to potentially double his contract’s worth when Couturier inevitably signs an extension.
Joel Farabee is another player you can look at and say the Flyers are getting a bargain. He’s in the middle year of his three-year ELC worth $925,000 annually. Farabee has taken huge strides as a player this season, seeing over two minutes more per night and nearly doubling his goal output from last season. He’s averaging .67 points per game, whereas last season he averaged .4 points per game. Joel is also taking more shots and seeing an expanded role on the powerplay as well. Farabee is making huge strides, and the Flyers will likely have do dish out a decent amount of their cap to sign him at the end of next season if this trend continues.
This one goes hand-in-hand with burning contracts, but has a different set of standards. While another year of their contract is spent, so is another year of their career. The Flyers have a handful of vets and a handful of tweeners, if you will, some on decent deals and others on deals that represent their veteran status on the team. Either way you spell it out, another year comes off the books while they’re in or close to their prime.
The easiest one to talk about is Claude Giroux. The man flat-out deserves better than this, but that’s a different story for another time. Giroux is towards the tail end of his eight year, $66.2 million deal paying him $8.275 million per year. While a hefty price tag, it’s hard to argue that he didn’t earn the deal. Like Couturier, Giroux’s deal expires at the end of next season. The team has done him a tremendous disservice in not maximizing his prime in Philadelphia, and this year is just another page in that book labeled as a tragedy.
Ivan Provorov signed his six year, $40.5 million deal before last season. Already entering year two of that deal paying him $6.75 million per year, the Flyers wasted this year of having their number one defenseman at a rate that pales in comparison to other number one defensemen across the NHL. You could argue the season he is having doesn’t really help his case, but look across the board. Not many Flyers are having years that compare to theirs of last season. Either way, it’s another year burnt off a decent contract.
This one is interesting considering his performance, but the Flyers basically phoned it in on Carter Hart’s contract year. He didn’t do himself any favors during this season, posting a 9-11-5 record with a 3.67 goals against average and .877 save percentage. What was wasted here was the opportunity to build from the crease out. Not replacing Matt Niskanen and relying too heavily on Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers to take that next step really hurt the Flyers on the back end, in turn hurting Carter Hart as well. While it may do the Flyers a favor when they sit down at the negotiating table with Hart this offseason, it doesn’t do him any favors in the way of development.
Chuck Fletcher has made more excuses for this team this season than a child as to why he’s doing something he shouldn’t be doing. COVID, flat cap, hard to move contracts, we’ve heard it all as fans of this team. The logic behind this isn’t completely off, but the side effects have a negative impact on this team.
Back to the child reference, think about if a parent continuously makes excuses for their child’s bad behavior. It’s enabling and undoubtedly gives the child reason to continue making those mistakes. The first half of this season saw the Flyers playing well. When things started to slide downhill, the excuses started rolling out. When they did, that basically told the team that we can keep playing this way because there’s going to be an excuse as to why they’re performing the way that they are.
Chuck Fletcher did his team a disservice by not holding them accountable, even if it stems from his lack of making moves and filling the holes he needed to during the 2020 offseason. Fletcher was under the assumption that his younger players were going to take big strides this season. While Joel Farabee proved him right, Phil Myers and Travis Sanheim did the opposite. Blame it on Fletcher having too much confidence in his younger players, blame it on his lack of moves in the offseason, it stands that this team needed something that it didn’t get at any point this season.
There’s much more negatives to this season than positives. Wade Allison’s emergence is a positive. So is Joel Farabee’s positive strides. However, you can’t discount the overall play of this team. The Flyers have played poorly for a majority of the season. They’ve wasted more years of players’ primes and some decent contracts. The negatives just seem to outweigh the positives this season. As the excuses rolled in, the patience rolled out for most of the fanbase. Frustration set in early and never really left. There’s no mulligan here. This season can’t be erased from history. This season should be used as a building block. Players need to use this as motivation. Another season like this should be unacceptable, bar none. The players should be aware of that, as well as Chuck Fletcher.
Photo Credit – Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire