Chuck Fletcher’s best and worst moves with Flyers; questions for next GM

The Philadelphia Flyers fired general manager and president of hockey operations Chuck Fletcher one week after a lacklustre trade deadline.

The Flyers rank near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and will miss the playoffs for the fourth time in the past five years and third consecutive season. The last time the Flyers missed the post-season three years in a row was back in the early 1990s.

“The Philadelphia Flyers organization has always been defined by grit, determination, and a standard of excellence,” a Friday statement from Flyers’ governor Dave Scott read. “Over the past several seasons, our team simply has not lived up to that standard, so today, we will begin to chart a new path forward under a new leadership structure for hockey operations.”

Fletcher was hired by the Flyers in December 2018 to replace Ron Hextall and his first move as GM was relieving head coach Dave Hakstol of his duties that winter.

Alain Vigneault was hired as Hakstol’s replacement and the team advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2019-20, the first full season under Fletcher’s watch. Vigneault was eventually fired and replaced by interim coach Mike Yeo in December 2021 and John Tortorella was hired ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

The frequent coaching changes were somewhat reflective of the dramatic alterations the roster underwent with Fletcher calling the shots.

Suffice it to say that by the end of his Flyers stint, particularly after not finding a suitable trade partner for pending UFA James van Riemsdyk, he wasn’t the most popular sports figure in town.

With the Flyers set to begin the franchise’s next chapter, let’s look back at some of Fletcher’s most notable moves with Philadelphia and what the next GM’s priorities could be…


Fletcher completed a total of 33 trades and doled out more than 90 NHL contracts in his four years as GM of the Flyers. Some moves clearly worked out more favourably than others.

Feb. 2019: Following two minor trades that January, Fletcher pulled off three more deals ahead of his first trade deadline with his new team. His most notable move was sending fan favourite Wayne Simmonds to Nashville.

June 2019: Fletcher acquired the rights to Kevin Hayes from Winnipeg for a fifth-round pick ahead of the 2019 free agency period. Hayes, who was coming off a career year split between the Rangers and Jets, was inked to a seven-year, $50-million contract set to expire in 2026. Within a week of that he signed Travis Sanheim to an affordable two-year deal.

Sept. 2019: Fletcher focussed mainly on league minimum-type deals in free agency after locking up Hayes and Sanheim and weeks prior to the regular season locked up two of the team’s top youngsters to long-term deals.

Forward Travis Konecny received a six-year, $33-million contract ahead of the 2019-20 campaign ($5.5 million cap hit) and defenceman Ivan Provorov was also signed for six years at a $6.75 million AAV.

Feb. 2020: Made four trades ahead of his second deadline but none of much consequence, which preceded a quiet off-season.

April 2021: Made a pair of rental moves at this deadline, sending Erik Gustafsson to Montreal and Michael Raffl to Washington both for late-round draft picks. Also signed Scott Laughton to a five-year extension and Cam York to his entry-level deal.

July 2021: This was when Fletcher was at his most aggressive. He traded 2017 No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick and Philippe Myers to the Predators for standout defenceman Ryan Ellis. This move has been a disaster for Philly with Ellis only able to suit up for four games with the orange and black due to injury.

The complete overhaul of the back end continued with Fletcher including a 2023 second-round pick in a salary dump deal with Arizona who took on Shayne Gostisbehere’s $4.5 million salary. The following days saw the Flyers acquire Rasmus Ristolainen from Buffalo for Robert Hagg, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2023 second, then Jakub Voracek was dealt to Columbus for Cam Atkinson.

Aug. 2021: Signed goalie Carter Hart to a three-year bridge deal worth just shy of $4 million per year, awarded Sanheim another two-year deal complete with another raise, signed Derrick Brassard for one year, and extended Sean Couturier.

Couturier’s eight-year, $62-million deal hasn’t worked out well so far with the centre missing time while injured.

Sept. 2021: Joel Farabee got a six-year, $30-million contract extension but the forward has only scored nine goals in 65 games since it kicked in ahead of 2022-23.

March 2022: Re-signed Ristolainen to a five-year deal that saved $300,000 annually compared to his previous deal.

The 2022 trade deadline was drastically different than 2023’s one a week ago. Captain Claude Giroux with half his remaining salary retained, along with German Rubtsov, Connor Bunnaman and a 2025 fifth went to Florida for Owen Tippett, a 2023 third and a conditional first. They also also received middle-round picks for both Derick Brassard and Justin Braun.

July 2022: Acquired Anthony Deangelo from Carolina and immediately signed him to a two-year, $10 million contract. Nicolas Deslauriers was the only free agent signed beyond two years when he inked a four-year deal.

October 2022: Sanheim was rewarded with an eight-year, $50-million contract that isn’t set to expire until 2031. Couturier is the only other Flyers player currently signed beyond 2028.

March 2023: His only deadline deals ended up being Brendan Lemieux and a sixth from the Kings for Zack MacEwen and Patrick Brown to the Sens for a fifth, which ultimately sealed his fate.


Fletcher was at the head of the table in Philly for the team’s past four drafts. Only a handful of players selected during Fletcher’s tenure have seen NHL action with 2019 first-round pick Cam York’s 70 career regular-season games the largest sample size among Fletcher’s Flyers draftees.

The long-term impact of Fletcher’s work won’t be fully realized until players selected by him, such as 2022 fifth-overall pick Cutter Gauthier, 2021 second-rounder Samu Tuomaala out of Finland, 2020 selections Tyson Foerster and Emil Andrae among others, reach their full potential.

Remember, Fletcher drafted Kirill Kaprizov in the fifth round back when he was the Wild’s GM, so Flyers fans certainly have their fingers crossed hoping a diamond in the rough can emerge from the team’s current prospect pool.

Fletcher left the team in decent short-term position draft asset-wise. The team doesn’t have its own second- or third-round selections in 2023 but have extra third-, fourth- and sixth-round picks, plus Florida’s 2024 or 2025 first (if the 2024 pick ends up a top-10 selection Philadelphia will receive the Panthers’ 2025 first instead).


Daniel Briere was promoted from special assistant to the GM to interim GM after Fletcher’s dismissal. The team plans on hiring two people to fill the now-vacant rolls of GM and president of hockey ops.

How best to free up cap space? The team’s blue line already has more than $23 million committed to next year’s cap. Sanheim’s extension is set to kick in, making him the fourth defenceman on the team with a cap hit of at least $5 million. Provorov, Ristolainen, and Deangelo are the others. JVR’s $7 million AAV is coming off the books, but the team will need to free up more space in order to effectively renovate this work-in-progress roster.

How expensive will RFAs be to re-sign? The team will need to make decisions on the futures of Cam York, Morgan Frost, Kieffer Bellows and Noah Cates among others. This part of the off-season should be relatively painless.

Which players are potential trade bait? If the Flyers get bold in the off-season, Konecny’s name may garner attention. The centre still leads Philadelphia in goals (27) and points (54) despite being on injured reserve since February. How many teams out there might take a swing at Konecny, or even Hayes, Provorov and others whose cap hits could inevitably make the new GM’s job more difficult?

It’s setting up to be another interesting off-season in Philadelphia.


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