Through 35 games, this Flyers season which was once full of promise has fallen flat for the second year in a row. After an 8-4-2 start, we’ve seen a 10-game losing streak, the firing of Alain Vigneault, and half the Flyers’ team being wiped out by COVID protocol. With the retooling done by Chuck Fletcher over the offseason, it looked like the Flyers would be ready to compete again with a good core in place, but Fletcher’s moves haven’t all panned out.
Let’s look at how each move has worked out for the Flyers so far.
Ryan Ellis Trade: C-
This was a move that many Flyers fans loved back in July when Fletcher sent off two players who struggled last season in Phil Myers and Nolan Patrick for a veteran top-pairing defenseman in Ryan Ellis. How could this trade fail? Injuries.
With a nagging lower-body injury that has limited Ellis to just four games, the Flyers have been down a top-pairing defenseman all season. Supposed to be paired with Ivan Provorov to give him the steady partner that he was missing during the 2020-21 season, it has not panned out at all. Ellis has had problems with durability over the past few seasons, missing extended time in both of the last two seasons with a concussion in 2020 and a broken knuckle in 2021. Though you can’t blame Fletcher for Ellis’ unavailability, the six-year, $37.5 contract they took on could become a major issue if Ellis continues to miss time.
It’s still early on but at 31 years old, Ellis might not have much time left as a top-pairing defenseman, so missing much of his first season with the Flyers hurts and does not spark hope that Ellis can live up to his sizeable contract in Philadelphia.
The only saving grace of this trade is that the Flyers didn’t give up any building block pieces In the move as Phil Myers and Nolan Patrick haven’t seen the ice much with their respective teams either. The Flyers may have gotten the best player, but they’ll obviously need him on the ice for this trade to fall in their favor.
Cam Atkinson Trade: A
One of the few bright spots in the Flyers’ season, Cam Atkinson has been a sparkplug in a usually flat offense. With 14 goals through 35 games, Atkinson is on pace for over 30 goals this season. He has been exactly the type of player that they need, even if the team is still struggling. This team has needed a goal scorer and moving Jake Voracek who has just 1 goal to go along with 24 assists was the right move.
This can be a trade that works out well for both teams, both are good players but Atkinson’s shoot-first style fits with the Flyers and is more beneficial than another playmaker in Voracek.
Rasmus Ristolainen Trade: D+
Losing a first-round pick for a second-pairing defenseman at best wasn’t the best move for Chuck Fletcher to make. Ristolainen has brought some nice toughness to the Flyers’ defense but his defensive acumen doesn’t match up to his physical attributes. The Flyers need a solid defenseman, not an enforcer.
Outside of the first-round pick, the Flyers parted with Robert Hagg and a second-rounder in 2023 which isn’t much but for what is likely a one-year rental (and possibly less if the Flyers move him at the deadline), it was a trade not worth making.
Signing Keith Yandle: C-
Keith Yandle is without a doubt, one of the most respected guys in the league and an all-around great guy. He’s great friends with Kevin Hayes, had experience under Alain Vigneault in New York, and is one of the most durable players we’ve ever seen as his ironman streak sits at 957 games which is just 7 short of setting a new record. But Yandle has not been an effective player for the Flyers at all really.
Yandle has never been a great defender and has carved out roles by quarterbacking powerplays and providing offense from the blueline. With no goals and 11 assists, Yandle has not been good enough to warrant himself a spot over Cam York when, and if, the Flyers blueline gets back to full strength. Obviously, let him set the ironman record but Yandle just isn’t bringing enough to keep him in the lineup for the rest of the season.
Signing Martin Jones: B
Jones was a broken goaltender over the past three seasons in San Jose but has actually been a fairly solid backup in Philadelphia. Posting a 6-5-1 record with a .909 save percentage, Jones has done enough to give his team a chance to win when he’s in net which is easier said than done with how the Flyers have played in front of him.
Signing Derrick Brassard: B
Brought in to provide depth as a third or fourth-line center, Derrick Brassard got off to a great start with the Flyers but has been pushed into a bigger role than he is capable of with all the injuries and players out for COVID protocol.
The 34-year old has posted 11 points in 19 games and is on just a one-year deal. Brassard was a solid signing but has been pushed to be a player that he just is not.
Signing Nate Thompson: C-
There was likely no one excited to see Nate Thompson back with the Flyers after he became a scapegoat for Flyers’ fans in the Toronto bubble where Alain Vigneault loved to put Thompson on the ice in high-stake situations and was constantly burned.
Thompson was brought back as a good faceoff man who can play fourth-line center. Expectedly, Thompson was unnoticeable in the 19 games he played and has been on the injured list for over a month. It was an unremarkable signing, to begin with, and that has not changed one bit.
Featured Image: Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers