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Grading all of Chuck Fletcher’s trades as Flyers’ GM

I receive: 4th liner ... You receive: 4th liner.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most integral duties that an NHL team’s General Manager (or President of Hockey Operations if that title applies) is to evaluate and react accordingly to trade proposals from other clubs, as well as formulate their own trades, aiming to draw value from whatever move has been made.

In his tenure as General Manager of the Flyers, Chuck Fletcher has made 31 trades, some of which can be considered quite good, with a fair few more on the other end of that spectrum.

So, today we will be grading all of these trades on a scale of 1-5, and establishing an average trade score for Fletcher. A quick note before beginning that a score of “3” indicates a deal in which the Flyers and the other team they traded with each receive something of equal value.

We will also be separating the trades into three distinct groups to determine how effective Fletcher is at both minor and major moves.

Now, let’s begin:

Nothing Moves

These are trades that aren’t really worth talking about, as they had practically no bearing on the current status of the team. They mostly involve minor leaguers or futures, and as such I’m not going to use this section to grade Fletcher, rather to just list them out.

February 19, 2020

To NYR: J.F. Berube , To Flyers: Futures

February 24, 2020

To Chicago: TJ Brennan , To Flyers: Nathan Noel

Both players have contributed essentially nothing at the NHL level. Moving on.

March 23, 2022

To Toronto: Futures, To Flyers: Brennan Menell

He played 18 games for the Phantoms and had 20 games under his belt with the Marlies. There isn’t much to say here.

October 26, 2022

To Chicago: Cooper Zech, To Flyers: Evan Barratt

This was an AHL/ECHL level move so no value lost.

February 26, 2023

To Nashville: Isaac Ratcliffe, To Flyers: Futures

I hope for his sake he can figure it out, but the disappointment here lies with Flyers’ development staff, not Fletcher. Still, this is very much a nothing move.

March 3, 2023

To Ottawa: Patrick Brown, To Flyers: 2023 6th Rounder

What do you want me to say? I’m sure Patrick Brown is a wonderful person, but this move most likely won’t have any consequences.

Minor Trades

These are trades that didn’t rock the boat, but still were significant enough to merit some discussion. These can include draft day trades (i.e. moving up or down from pick positions) as well as player for player moves. For draft day moves, unless that player has blossomed into a bonafide NHL star (which is not applicable to any of the moves here) then draft day moves will fall under this category.

January 11, 2019

To Arizona: Jordan Weal, To Flyers: Jacob Graves and 2019 6th Rounder (Egor Serdyuk)

Serdyuk is playing in the VHL, Graves plays in the ECHL, and Jordan Weal is playing in the KHL currently (and he didn’t do much of anything after his trade). Therefore, this is very much a nothing trade that I can’t value at more than average. No team won or lost here. You could argue the Flyers benefitted more from the 6th round pick as they wouldn’t know what Serdyuk would develop into, but hindsight is always 20/20.

Grade: 3/5

January 17, 2019

To Buffalo: Taylor Leier, To Flyers: Justin Bailey

Deep cuts here with this trade. Gosh, I remember when we were all excited about Taylor Leier. Well now he’s playing in the DEL in Germany. Bailey, meanwhile, never caught on in Philly but is having a decent season this year with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate (23 points in 40 games). It is entirely possible he gets playing time in Edmonton if injuries strike. Both players post-trade barely sniffed NHL time or didn’t at all, so this is another even value trade that doesn’t really bring much to the table.

Grade: 3/5

February 9, 2019

To Montreal: Dale Weise and Christian Folin, To Flyers: Byron Froese and David Schlemko

Weise is now retired, but upon his trade barely saw NHL time and eventually signed in Sweden, where Folin currently plays. Similarly, Froese didn’t last very long in the Flyers system and now plays for the Vegas Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate, and Schlemko pretty much retired after he didn’t get time with the Flyers. However, what isn’t accounted for by the numbers or value only would be the jubilation of finally ridding ourselves of Dale Weise, perhaps one of the most underwhelming free agent signings in Flyers history (four years, $9.4 million for 34 total points!).

Grade: 3.5/5

February 15, 2019

To Edmonton: Anthony Stolarz, To Flyers: Cam Talbot

Cam Talbot only played in four games for the Flyers. His save percentage was a dismal 0.881%. He would go on to leave in free agency, and then improve his save percentage to 0.919 and 0.913 in respective seasons with Calgary and then Minnesota...remember this is the guy the Flyers RECEIVED. Anthony “Stolie the Goalie” Stolarz, whom the Flyers gave up, bounced around the NHL and AHL before finally carving out a role for himself with the Anaheim Ducks. He had a very good 2021-22 but hasn’t been nearly as good this year. Either way, the Flyers traded a guy who would become an average backup for essentially nothing, but not actually nothing (WE WILL GET TO THAT ONE LATER!).

Grade: 2.5/5

June 21, 2019

To Arizona: 2019 1st Rounder (Victor Soderstrom), To Flyers: 2019 1st Rounder (Cam York) + 2019 2nd Rounder

Both Cam York and Victor Soderstrom are puck-moving defensemen, and while I’m not too sure if York will be better than Soderstrom or vice versa when it’s all set and done, I have to give the edge to the Flyers for getting an added pick from this deal. Additionally, we have Cam York because of this deal, and York is one of the few bright spots on this Flyers’ roster.

Grade: 4/5

June 22, 2019

To Nashville: 2019 2nd Rounder (Egor Afanasyev) + 2019 3rd Rounder (Michael Vukojevic), To Flyers: 2019 2nd Rounder (Bobby Brink)

The Flyers paid the price to trade up for Brink, and so far, it appears to have been the right move. Afanasyev is having a decent year in the AHL (24 points in 54 games) but Brink is playing even better (17 points in 25 games) coming off an injury, and one wonders when he could get re-called to the Flyers. With how badly the Flyers are playing they may very well give him another stint in the big-show.

Grade: 3.5/5

July 24, 2019

To Dallas: Ryan Hartman, To Flyers: Tyler Pitlick

In the end, while I think many would have been happy to see Pitlick stick around in Philly after his one season, he simply isn’t as good a player as Ryan Hartman. I can’t remember any discussion about Hartman being unhappy, or with contract disputes, so this one goes down as a Fletcher L.

Grade: 2/5

February 24, 2020

To Anaheim: 2020 4th round pick, Kyle Criscuolo, To Flyers: Derek Grant

The Flyers gave up very little here to grab some depth for their bottom six, and Derek Grant had quite a good first impression. He’s had a nice little career for a fringe player and certainly helped the Flyers with 5 points in 7 games before the NHL paused. He also played in 15 bubble games scoring 2 points. Solid move!

Grade: 4/5

February 24, 2020

To Montreal: 2021 5th round pick, To Flyers: Nate Thompson

I’m not the biggest Nate Thompson fan in terms of his play style, but as a role model and locker room presence, this trade works out to around equal value, especially for what was then a team filled with youngsters.

Grade: 3/5

October 7, 2020

To Tampa: 2020 4th rounder (Eamon Powell) + 2020 5th Rounder (Jaydon Dureau), To Flyers: 2020 4th rounder (Zayde Wisdom)

While Zayde Wisdom looks like he could be a real difference maker for the Flyers in the future, his potential is so far unproven, and he hasn’t exactly lit the AHL on fire. I can’t with good faith give this trade anything above or below a 3.

Grade: 3/5

October 7, 2020

To Nashville: 2020 7th rounder (Gunnarwolfe Fontaine) + 2020 7th rounder (Chase McLane), To Flyers: 2020 5th rounder (Elliot Desnoyers)

Despite the Flyers giving up on the chance to trade for and pick a man names Gunnarwolfe, this trade grades much better given the low price the Flyers paid and the player they were able to draft as a result. Desnoyers has made his NHL debut this season, and has been playing very well in the AHL for a player of his age (38 points in 52 games at just 21 years old).

Grade: 4/5

April 7, 2021

To Washington: Michael Raffl, To Flyers: 2021 5th rounder (from Vegas)

The player the Flyers drafted with this pick (Ty Murchison) is unsigned, and Raffl didn’t have much of an impact upon his trade to Washington. It was pretty clear that Raffl wasn’t in the Flyers’ plans, so being able to extract anything from him was decent business, but nothing special.

Grade: 3/5

April 7, 2021

To Montreal: Erik Gustafsson, To Flyers: St.Louis’ 2022 7th Rounder (transferred to Montreal - Miguel Tourigny)

The Flyers struck out with Gustafsson, who funny enough is having a career renaissance this season. However, he provided an underwhelming performance in the orange and black. They clearly wanted to just get rid of him, but value wise, this wasn’t anything more than an average move, made below average since the Flyers then moved the pick they got in return.

Grade: 2.5/5

March 21, 2022

To Edmonton: Derrick Brassard, To Flyers: 2023 4rd Rounder

Brass was a solid bottom six player, albeit on the older side, and with the team in the gutter, it was a solid but unremarkable piece of business to trade him. Not great nor bad.

Grade: 3/5

March 3, 2023

To Los Angeles: Zack MacEwen, To Flyers: Brendan Lemieux and 2024 5th Rounder

The Flyers only marginally win this trade since they got an added pick back for taking on what essentially is a trial for Brendan Lemieux to see if he’ll ever get an NHL role again. The below sums this trade up best:

Grade: 3.5/5

Trades: 15

Average Score: 3.2

Major Trades

These are trades that have either involved significant NHL players (either currently or formerly considered as such), and are generally the trades that are considered to have shaped Fletcher’s legacy with the Flyers (though obviously this is subjective). They are the following:

February 25, 2019

To Nashville: Wayne Simmonds, To Flyers: Ryan Hartman, 2020 Conditional 4th Rounder (was later traded)

Ryan Hartman made a very good first impression with the Flyers, but at the end of the day, he is a bottom six forward... is what I would say had he not exploded for 34 goals and 65 points in 2021-22. Currently, he is on pace for 33 points, and I’m not sure what to make of him (I’m sure the Wild aren’t either), but the Flyers got the bottom six version of Hartman and traded a franchise legend to do so. He’s aged considerably since the trade and has had injury problems, but this hurt in the moment. Nevertheless, I can’t reasonably say this wasn’t at least a reasonable trade considering Simmonds’ output since. He obviously brings off-ice leadership qualities to the table, but the fact he is in the AHL currently in the Leafs’ system says all you need to know. It was a marginal win for the Flyers, and the fact everyone knew he was getting moved hurt what they could get back for him.

Grade: 3.5/5

June 14, 2019

To Washington: Radko Gudas, To Flyers: Matt Niskanen

This ended up being a very good trade, despite the risk it posed at the time. The Flyers were banking that Niskanen would rebound after a poor prior season, and he did, helping Ivan Provorov to stabilize. Meanwhile, Radko Gudas has kept a role in the NHL, but is still the same flawed Radko that we knew and loved.

Honestly, outside of this trade, Niskanen’s retirement after 2019-20 was really the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I’d be interested to know the butterfly effect of what could occur had he not retired. However, despite this, he really helped the Flyers assert themselves that season and in the COVID-19 Bubble.

Grade: 4/5

June 18, 2019

To San Jose: 2019 2nd rounder (Kaedan Korczak) and 2020 3rd rounder (Maxim Groshev), To Flyers: Justin Braun

Giving up two picks for Justin Braun is, how should I put it...not very good. The sentiment is understandable as the Flyers really had major problems in defense, so a veteran presence was needed. But, Matt Niskanen was a much better player for this than Braun.

Grade: 2/5

July 17, 2021

To Nashville: Phil Myers and Nolan Patrick, To Flyers: Ryan Ellis

Here is where the trades start to get interesting, since they are the most recent. The Ryan Ellis trade at the time was hailed as a fleecing by Fletcher. Nolan Patrick unfortunately due to his injuries will likely never play to any semblance of productive level in the NHL, if in the league at all, and Myers has been primarily playing in the AHL. Additionally, the Flyers were able to get back a top pairing defenseman with whom they would placing their future in. However, just four games into his debut season with the club he was injured, and hasn’t appeared in a game since, and could likely never play again.

So would you rather take 4 games of a very good player or many more games of barely NHL players? Take your pick. Either way this has turned out to be a nothing trade, with its impact on the Flyers more so the unfortunate injury than the trade itself.

Grade: 3/5

July 22, 2021

To Arizona: Shayne Gostisbehere, 2022 2nd rounder (Artem Duda) & 2022 7th rounder (Miguel Tourigny), To Flyers: A bag of pucks

The Flyers traded one of the better offensive defensemen in the league for nothing, and paid extra picks to do it. Yes, the Flyers were tired of his lack of defensive “responsibility” but here at Broad Street Hockey, we’ve been over many times why this is a flawed comparative to make. Don’t try and saddle a mustang. Awful trade both now and at the time.

Grade: 1/5

July 23, 2021

To Buffalo: 2021 1st rounder + 2023 2nd rounder + Robert Hagg), To Flyers: Rasmus Ristolainen

This is a very contentious trade. Robert Hagg was (and continues to be) a replacement level NHL blue-liner, and Ristolainen, in theory, could have been a good fit for Philly if usage was correct. Honestly, most of the criticism surrounding Ristolainen comes from the contract he signed and not the trade itself. However, he continued to be just as bad analytically (and by the eye test if we’re being honest). The first round pick turned into Isak Rosen, who is having a good year at 19 years old in the AHL (25 points in 47 games) and could very well be an impact player for Buffalo.

In the end, this trade was bad but not the most egregious one of the bunch.

Grade: 2/5

July 24, 2021

To Columbus: Jakub Voracek, To Flyers: Cam Atkinson

At the time this seemed like a fairly even move, and worked into the idea of the Flyers re-tooling after a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. Ultimately, the Flyers got slightly less production but a completely different type of player from Voracek, and both were valuable to their teams. You can make the argument that Voracek was slightly more valuable to Columbus, but for the Flyers’ needs, and what they were looking to address, this was a fairly even move.

Grade: 3/5

March 19, 2022

To Florida: Claude Giroux, Connor Bunnaman, German Rubstov & 2024 5th Rounder, To Flyers: Owen Tippett, 2024 1st Rounder & 2023 3rd Rounder

Obviously, the Flyers haven’t made those picks yet that they got from Florida, but if we solely look at the active players traded, Giroux is obviously leagues better than Owen Tippett, Connor Bunnaman or German Rubtsov. However, that being said, Tippett has impressed this season and looks to be a key future piece for the Flyers. In the end, it wasn’t a bad haul for a pending free agent superstar, and I would argue that since Giroux didn’t stay in Florida that they came out the better team in the end.

Grade: 3.5/5

March 21, 2022

To NYR: Justin Braun, To Flyers: 2023 3rd Rounder

Any value gotten for Justin Braun is a positive, end of story.

Grade: 4/5

July 9, 2022

To Carolina: 2024 2nd Rounder, 2023 3rd rounder, 2022 4th Rounder (Simon Forsmark), To Flyers: Tony DeAngelo + 2022 7th Rounder (Alexis Gendron)

The Hurricanes pick, Forsmark, is still in Sweden, and Gendron is still in the QMJHL. In the end, the picks could turn this into a very one-sided trade, but the Flyers gave up a fairly significant amount of picks to land DeAngelo, who plays a very similar style to Shayne Gostisbehere, who they gave away for nothing. In the end, that fact alone makes this trade a head-scratcher. It isn’t, in essence of its value, a terrible trade, but it doesn’t hit the even value minimum to rate it at a 3/5, and shows a lack of planning from the Flyers’ front office.

Grade: 2.5/5

Trades: 10

Average Score: 2.85

And there you have it, every trade under Fletcher that the Flyers have made. So, in the end what was his average trade score?


However, this number is misleading. While this number is a fairly true of the minor trades he has made, he scores far worse when it comes to the trades that matter the most.

By our ratings, in a vacuum Fletcher has been completely near average trade value wise, which isn’t bad, but nor what is needed for the Flyers to dig themselves out of the rut they’ve sunk in to. I think for the most part, the criticism of Fletcher can be better applied to free agent signings and contracts, as not all trades are without context. However, the Flyers getting average return on minor trades and bad return on potentially franchise altering moves isn’t going to be good enough if they can’t draft well and make smart signings.

A few bad trades outweigh, in the end, a lot of little “meh” trades. That’s just the reality.