(Photo Credit: Frank Fimmano)
Sooooo, the Flyers kind of suck.
Not exactly the hottest of takes but an accurate appraisal of the current state of affairs nonetheless.
In these gloomy Orange and Black days, I’m finding that there are a couple of different factions in reaction to our under performing hockey squad. You have the “trade everybody” crowd who would like to trade everyone except G-Unit, Jake, Simmer, Ghost, our top end prospects, and Jesus. Then there is the “call-up everybody” crowd who would like to see the likes of Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, Ivon Provorov, Samuel Morin and (to a lesser extent) Anthony Stolarz ripped from their current state of development and placed right into the NHL line up ASAP to “start their NHL learning curves.”
Let’s take a minute to understand why both of these ideas are stupid.
A) Trading Everyone:
I’ll admit that there are deals to be made with this roster that would benefit the Flyers both in the short and long-term. For starters, I truly believe that Brayden Schenn shouldn’t be resigned because he’s going to want something in the neighborhood of $3.75M a year for 3-5 years. Not the most outrageous contract ever but that gets in the way in terms of occupying a top-6 roster spot and precious cap space. Sorry, Brayden but the mandate is for the future, and your future lies in Montreal or Minnesota (presumably).
Same goes for Matt Read as I think that $3.625 is too expensive for a third line winger who may or may not score 20 goals a year.
In both Read and Schenn’s case, their cap hits can be better allocated to free up money for an actual 2nd line left winger and/or pay for third line role players instead of guys that are too good for the 3rd line, but not good enough for 2nd line minutes.
Then of course there is the blueline. This is where I agree with the Trade Everyone crowd in that everyone on the active roster except Ghost should be available.
But here’s the problem with this approach, who’s going to actually play for this team next year? Let’s say that we trade even four dudes off of the current roster. That’s 4 spots that we’re going to have to replace either by taking on whatever contract in a trade, or sign a few players in free agency where guys like Deryk Engelland get $3M a year for 3 years.
Even if Hextall “Hextalls the crap” out of everyone with more Renaldo for third round pick deals, this team still needs able bodied players to cushion the learning curve for our prospects. If we just get rid of everyone and hand it to the kids, do you know who that makes us?
B) Call-Up Everyone:
To further elaborate on my Edmonton argument, inserting Sanheim, Konecny, and Provorov into the lineup the second their Junior careers end is a terrible idea. Shoot, considering that the Phantoms are pretty in the same position in the standings as the big club, it’s probably a bad idea to send these guys to the AHL when their CHL seasons are up as well.
Furthermore, Morin should finish his season with the Phantoms because it would mess with his expectations to bring him up now. Meaning that everyone (Morin included) knows that he is going to take the longest amount of time to make The Show. We want him to be the next Zdeno Chara but most people conveniently forget that Big Z had to spend a couple of years in the minors and 4 years on a terrible Islanders team before he got to Ottawa and became the Chara that we all fawn over.
People also conveniently forget the age of all of these kids. Morin is the oldest at a whopping 20! Kids are great task managers and can execute on expectations if you provide a clear path for them to achieve. It is a big disappointment for these guys to all perform well in the exhibition season, get their hopes up, and not make the big squad. Time must pass to refocus and accept their directives for the year. To all of the sudden hit the fast-forward button and give these kids what they already rationalized as being a non-possibility would be more damaging than beneficial.
My concern with this viewpoint is that too many have blindly adopt the Malcom Gladwell 10,000 Repetition Rule and are confusing volume of reps, with volume of good reps. I contend that experience cannot be taught and everyone has to learn everything eventually. However, if you put a group of kids in a situation they are not prepared for, as they struggle they will look to each other for support. By the time that they realize that none of them have the ability to help the other, we’re now having conversations about “what went wrong.”
It’s a weird feeling to be a Philadelphian of any kind and think that the best move is to not make a move. But it is short sighted to cry for decades that we need a GM to have a clear 5 year plan to rebuild this club the “right way,” and then crap your pants in year 2 of that plan. To quote one of my favorite movie lines from Training Day, “This shit is chess, not checkers!”
Frankly, I think it would be disastrous if Flyers were to some how make the playoffs this year. Reason being is that literally any other team in the NHL (with the possible exception of Montreal) would probably beat our team in a 7 game series. It’s hard to see but instead of watching the standings, we should be trying to learn more about Matthew Tkachuck, Julien Gauthier, and Keiffer Bellows. These are a few of the very realistic first round selection possibilities for the Flyers in the draft this summer. The reason these three kids are are worth your time is because all of them are very highly rated scoring left wingers with 30-40 goals per year expectations.
Think of it this way, if I were to remember what the Flyers were like in the 90’s, just about every single one of you would mention the Legion of Doom, Hextall, Desjardins, and the 97 Cup run.
Very few of would remember that the Flyers were brutal from 1991-1993/4ish. Not many people would remember that we had to trade to get Hextall back before we went on the 97 Cup run, or that he split time with Garth Snow. And almost no one would remember that John LeClair really wasn’t that good before he came to the Flyers – with the exception of the hat trick he scored in in game 3 of the 93 Final.
The point is this, often the best move is to not make one. It may go against every fiber of your being and you may even die as the process transpires, but if you can wait long enough, you’ll forget that you even felt this way in the first place.