All eyes were on Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk as the 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline approached Friday afternoon. On an expiring contract, the seven-time 20-goal scorer was one of the likeliest players in the league to be dealt to a new team. And for a moment, it appeared the Flyers had a deal in place to acquire assets for him.
Until they didn’t.
The Flyers were reportedly on track to trade van Riemsdyk to the Detroit Red Wings. But with minutes to spare, the deal fell through.
JVR was not dealt, whatever was possible did not get consummated with DET— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 3, 2023
Instead, the Flyers traded depth forward Patrick Brown to the Ottawa Senators for a 2023 sixth-round pick.
Van Riemsdyk, the same player the Flyers failed to move over the summer, keeping them from clearing cap space and pursuing All-Star forward Johnny Gaudreau, will finish out the remainder of his contract with the Flyers.
A simply remarkable blunder by Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. And this is just the latest of his unthinkable gaffes.
Hired by the Flyers in 2018, Fletcher has taken a lot of heat in recent years thanks to his highly questionable management decisions. In the summer of 2021, he essentially paid the Arizona Coyotes to take Shayne Gostisbehere off his hands by attaching a second and seventh-round pick to the once dynamic defenseman. He then subsequently acquired Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres for a first and second-round pick, who he later inked to a breathtaking five-year, $25,500,000 contract extension.
The incompetence has only worsened since the end of the 2021-22 season. After opting not to pursue the aforementioned Gaudreau, who, as a South Jersey native, was not shy about wanting to sign with the Flyers at a discounted rate, Fletcher instead chose to re-sign 36-year-old defenseman(?) Justin Braun (who has played in just 40 games this season) and ink fourth-line tough guy Nic Deslauriers to a four-year, $7 million deal, which includes a modified no-trade clause.
Fletcher sure has “aggressively retooled” the Flyers. And at this point, all he’s created is a hockey team that’s become the unquestioned laughingstock of the NHL.
Tuesday afternoon, Fletcher spoke to the media to lay out his plans for the trade deadline. His message was clear — he wanted to sell. His goal was to acquire draft capital and young players in any way possible.
Instead? They nabbed a pair of late-round draft picks and Brendan Lemieux.
What a haul.
At this point, if you even have an ounce of patience left, you may be wondering how long will it take for the Flyers to become a competitive club again. Fletcher did his best to answer that question on Tuesday.
“I’m not sure on the timeframe,” he said. “I’ve seen some teams flip it pretty quickly.”
The Flyers will not be flipping out of this disaster quickly. In fact, things will probably continue getting worse before they get better.
And when things do start getting better, Chuck Fletcher most certainly won’t be the man behind it.