After Flyers fans were promised an explosive offseason by General Manager Chuck Fletcher, many were disappointed. The top free agent on the market, Jonathan Gaudreau, who was interested in signing with the Flyers, was not tendered an offer due to cap-space inflexibility. Instead, Fletcher opted to bring in offensive defenseman Tony DeAngelo in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, sign defenseman Justin Braun, who was traded from the Flyers at the 2022 Trade Deadline, and sign Nicholas Desulaiers to a 4-year, 1.75M Average Annual Value (AAV) deal.
This was not the aggressive retooling that Flyers management had promised doubtful fans.
Additionally, Fletcher still intends to target a winning season, as opposed to beginning a rebuilding process. He made this clear through many decisions, the most notable of which was hiring Head Coach John Tortorella, a veteran coach known for getting the most of his players’ talents. In the Flyers’ case, the talent Tortorella will have to work with is subpar at best.
What is the most optimistic scenario that can happen over the next few years?Grayson Morgan ’26
All of this begs the question—what will be the impact of Fletcher’s ignorance? Is it possible for the Flyers to “fly” this year —making the playoffs as a bottom-seed team and facing an early-round elimination? And even if they do, what will the consequences of another season of mediocrity be? What is the most optimistic scenario that can happen over the next few years?
To break down this question, two variables of great significance must be considered. First, the talent of the upcoming draft classes will heavily impact the trajectory of the Flyers, or at least the speed in which they recover from their mismanagement. The second is the free agents available. Depending on the team’s signings regarding their top restricted and unrestricted free agents, the Flyers will have more or less free agents whom they can consider signing.
The first move the Flyers must make is trading James Van Riemsdyk, a veteran forward with a 7M AAV, whose contract expires this offseason. Philadelphia could move Van Riemsdyk and another highly-paid veteran, such as Cam Atkinson, to a contending team looking to find success in the playoffs. In return, they could receive a first-round pick. The upcoming draft class is highly skilled, with an estimated five elite players, and one generational talent, Connor Bedard. So, let’s assume the Flyers finish dead last this season, win the draft lottery, and draft the consensus first overall pick, Connor Bedard. Bedard is a Canadian sniper, with potential like that of players Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. He would instantly become the best player on the Flyers and a top player in the NHL. Then, the Flyers could use their previously acquired first-round pick to draft a defenseman who is not quite NHL-ready but is a promising prospect. The Flyers would move into the offseason with considerable cap flexibility, re-sign their younger players and integral veterans, and then dive into the free agency market. They could pursue either Matt Dumba, a 28-year-old defenseman, and/or Vladimir Tarasenko, an elite Russian sniper turning 31.
Now, Philadelphia can move on to the next season.
They will finally be a playoff-bound hockey team.Grayson Morgan ’26
Another season goes by and the Flyers finish in the bottom five of the standings. They move up two spots in the draft lottery and draft a skilled player (it’s too early to begin to predict who the third overall pick in the 2024 draft will be). At this point, their top-line defenseman Ryan Ellis and top-line forward Sean Couturier will return from injury. The Flyers resign core players, pursue a free agent or two who can bolster their defense, and begin to think about their 2024-2025 season. They will have a first forward line that features Tarasenko, and Bedard, as well as a second line featuring Couturier and forward Kevin Hayes, who will be in his early thirties at that point. Their defense will feature two rookies players they drafted in the past two years playing on their third line, and Ivan Provorov, a versatile defenseman with offensive ability, and Ryan Ellis on their first line. They will finally be a playoff-bound hockey team.
The Flyers have won one playoff series in the past ten years. To keep tickets selling and fan morale rising, the Flyers need to succeed. A rebuild would be perfectly timed if it began now, aligning with strong draft classes and free agent classes. Still, based on comments made by the Flyers organization, it looks like the next few years will be years of mediocrity or worse.