clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Grading the Flyers’ trade deadline

New, comments

Get out your red pens, folks, because it’s time to look at Chuck Fletcher’s report card.

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

The Flyers really didn’t do much at the deadline this year, which drove a lot of people nuts. Unfortunately, given the impending expansion draft, flat cap, and unlikelihood of the current team making the postseason, it wasn’t surprising to see little movement when the entire league gives the impression of indecision and confusion (aside from Steve Yzerman, of course). Flyers fans were, unsurprisingly, displeased.

Not a stellar deadline for ‘ol Chucky Two-Trades.

Still, these three transactions the team did conduct at the deadline that are worth going over, both for the returns and the future ramifications concerning this roster. Let’s dive in.

Flyers extend Scott Laughton for $3 million AAV over 5 years

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers
The newest made man on Philly’s roster was an interesting contract situation.
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Laughton’s contract is a bit of a doozy to analyze. On one hand, it’s been pointed out by many that at 5-on-5, Scooter has produced at a second line rate over the past two or three years (including this one). No. 21 is only 26 years old, so the term will carry him through his prime and a $3 million AAV for a player of his caliber is honestly an excellent deal. The Flyers brought back a glue guy and are potentially transmitting the message of “if you work your ass off, you’ll be rewarded” with an offseason that should see serious roster upheaval looming.

On the other hand, that’s a lot of term to commit to a player who is ideally serving in a third line role. With the year over year variance increase that players usually see in production after crossing into their late 20’s (I need to study this further, but that appears to be the trend), the Flyers took a risk by committing to a physical player who relies a lot on his skating to get things done. Laughton is by no means a burner, but if his foot speed trails off as he ages, it’s legitimate to worry about how it’ll impact his effectiveness. Much like the Kevin Hayes contract, this is a deal where you’re paying for the effective three years at the beginning and hoping the player is still good in the aged 30 and 31 span.

Personally, as a couch GM playing NHL 20 or Franchise Hockey Manager, I like the bottom of my roster to be flexible. Championship teams of the past decade have largely built their success upon drafting core players, supplementing them with UFAs, and then replenishing the depth of the team with ELCs when needed. Laughton is a very good player, but with a prospect core as deep and talented as Philly’s you’d hope that the Flyers would be able to replace him internally. I’m not suggesting that Tanner Laczynski or Wade Allison should be able to step into Laughton’s role right away and replicate his production, but when weighing the increased cap flexibility and assets the team would have gained from shipping him out, you have to wonder what would have been better.

Overall, I’ll give this signing a C+ for Chuck Fletcher. I don’t love the term and personally feel that selling Laughton for draft capital and increased cap space would have been smarter when the team is headed for an offseason looking to add a legitimate number one defender, but I can’t fault the logic in bringing back a do-it-all, high effort guy and rewarding him for sticking it out with the team. Laughton wanted to be a Flyer badly, and I don’t think that’s a common thing anymore. Building a locker room full of guys who are truly bought in is crucial to repairing what many would consider a broken culture, and Laughton looks to be part of the solution, rather than a segment of the problem.

Poll

How would you grade the Scott Laughton signing?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    A
    (67 votes)
  • 47%
    B
    (237 votes)
  • 23%
    C
    (118 votes)
  • 8%
    D
    (43 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (18 votes)
  • 3%
    Show me the results
    (17 votes)
500 votes total Vote Now

Canadiens acquire Erik Gustafsson from Philadelphia at 50 percent salary retained for 7th round pick in 2022

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers
Sayonara, Goose; you will not be missed.
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

I would like to preface this segment by saying that this is an article grading the trades and signings made at the deadline. I will not be factoring Chuck Fletcher’s addition of Erik Gustafsson via free agency into how I evaluate the return in the trade that occurred on April 12th. If that were the case, this would be a flat F. With that out of the way, let’s break this down.

Erik Gustafsson was remarkable in a singular aspect during his time in Philadelphia: he was one of the worst defensemen in the franchise’s history. This is a Flyers franchise that in the past few decades employed Brandon Manning, Andrew MacDonald, Nick Grossman, Hal Gill, and Ryan Parent. Erik Gustafsson belongs among that pantheon of suck, even if he was only a Flyer for a brief time. His lofty stature was established by a propensity to simply... lean against players and act like he was playing effective defense. The number of nights where Goose was absolutely toasted or responsible for a goal against has to hover somewhere around the 50 percent mark in his 24 games with Philly (God, it really feels like he played more than that, eh?).

So, to the trade. Getting any kind of asset back for a player this awful is a quality move, even if you’re having to retain salary. This was a perfectly decent addition by subtraction from Chuck Fletcher, and one that I’ll have to give a good grade. Nobody should be reasonably expecting him to get much more than this out of a defender who was a frequent healthy scratch on one of the worst defensive teams in hockey. I’m giving Chucky a B on this move, mostly out of spite because I refuse to give him an A when he’s responsible for much of this team’s failure.

Poll

How would you grade the Erik Gustafsson trade?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    A
    (107 votes)
  • 31%
    B
    (135 votes)
  • 23%
    C
    (100 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (42 votes)
  • 7%
    F
    (30 votes)
  • 3%
    Show me the results
    (13 votes)
427 votes total Vote Now

Washington acquires Michael Raffl in exchange for 2021 5th round pick

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Raffl was a good soldier, but ultimately he was an easily replaceable part of a roster that should see some shakeup.
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

This one is pretty easy for me. Raffl is simply Just A Guy in the NHL at this point, and while there are worse things to be (looking at you, Chris VandeVelde), it was time for both sides to move on. With Tanner Laczynski knocking on the door and a bevy of winger prospects that project to be bottom-six options, Raffl was easy to jettison, simple to substitute, and ultimately a valuable asset when the Caps offered a 5th round pick. Now, this isn’t a deep or quality draft class by any means, but getting a lottery ticket for a player who wasn’t adding any value is a shrewd move, and a 5th round pick is more of a return than I would have presumed. Good job, Chuck; you get another B for this one (I will never give you an A, you coward. Go get Dougie Hamilton somehow).

Poll

How would you grade the Michael Raffl trade?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    A
    (53 votes)
  • 44%
    B
    (184 votes)
  • 27%
    C
    (112 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (37 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (16 votes)
  • 2%
    Show me the results
    (9 votes)
411 votes total Vote Now

It’s safe to say that Flyers fans as a whole don’t have a ton of confidence in the team or their GM, but things have been trending upward lately, at least according to SB Nation Reacts. Let’s hope that the offseason is a bit more eventful, Chuck. I really want to give you an A, but I can’t just hand one out. Basic teacher’s rhetoric, if you will.

Chuck Fletcher, more like Schmuck Fletcher (my hockey team is dying, please help me)