Flyers general manager Ron Hextall had a relatively active trade deadline day Wednesday, re-signing two players and trading a third.
We went to Twitter to get a sense of the fan response to the departure of Mark Streit, addition of Valtteri Filppula and re-signing of Michal Neuvirth and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. The results are in, and the grades … well, they’re not great.
Of the 100 or so responses we received on Twitter when we asked fans to grade the Flyers’ trade deadline, most fit into two categories. We can call them “meh” and “ugh.”
Let’s start with “meh.”
Responses here were from fans who didn’t hate the Flyers’ moves but wished there had been others. The grades largely hovered around “B.” Here’s a good example:
B-.— Alexander Appleyard (@avappleyard) March 1, 2017
Got a good middle 6C and picks for Streit. Flip can help be stop-gap next year while kids develop.
As @avappleyard points out, Filppula could be a stopgap for the Flyers in the middle of their lineup as prospects develop. We know Hextall won’t be rushing any young players now or in the future simply because of need.
The issue, though, is that Filppula doesn’t come cheap (he’s got a $5 million cap hit) and he’s got a no-movement clause, which means the Flyers don’t have a choice but to protect him for this summer’s expansion draft. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that his production has dropped off a cliff since he signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 2013.
And while they weren’t trades, the Flyers’ re-signing of Neuvirth and Bellemare factored into a number of fans’ grades, like @Angelo_Masso03, who feels Hextall could have gotten more accomplished in that department:
B. Got a good return for Streit but nothing for Mase, who will now walk probably. Would've liked to see more done— Angelo Masso (@Angelo_Masso03) March 1, 2017
@BobbyGonnella had a similar take, and similar grade:
B, Hexy made a good move, adds depth and saves some cap space this season, failed to move a goalie or 2 pending UFAs for return— Bobby Gonnella (@BobbyGonnella) March 1, 2017
(This is where I make a joke about it not being Philadelphia if we’re not discussing some kind of goalie issue.)
Let’s move on to the “ugh” responses. Time for a moment of honesty: These were the vast majority of the tweets we received. There were a lot of “D”’s and “F”’s tossed around Wednesday evening.
A tweet from @PeteyAllen sums up a popular discussion that happened online once the news had broken on both re-signings, that the players Hextall had re-signed aren’t just underperforming, they’re the worst players at their positions:
D. Got picks and a solid forward for upcoming year. Didn't unload UFAs because maybe playoffs? Re-signed worst F and G in NHL— Petey Allen (@PeteyAllen) March 1, 2017
OK, so this isn’t exactly true. Neuvirth has had a down year, and his save percentage is indeed 47th of the 47 goalies who’ve played at least 20 games this season. But … worst in the league? Overall? Probably a stretch.
The same can be said for Bellemare. Is he the worst forward in the NHL? No. He's a solid two-way player, who did a strong job stepping into Sean Couturier's role when he went down with injury earlier this year. But as BroadStreetHockey.com pointed out, Bellemare is among the 10 worst forwards in 5-on-5 scoring.
Money, too, is an issue. @Flyersguru points out that the already cash-strapped Flyers added $8.95 million for next season with Wednesday’s moves – which means filling the vacancies that clearly exist might have gotten more difficult:
F. #Flyers added $8.95 million in cap space next season when they didn't need too. They have many RFA's to sign & holes to fill— Tim M. (@Flyersguru) March 1, 2017
Ahead of the deadline, Hextall said repeatedly he’d likely be a seller, and that adding a key piece wasn’t likely in the plans. If there’s one thing Hextall has done since becoming general manager, it’s stay true to his word. And his word is “patience.”
So with that in mind, we’ll leave you with our favorite response from the day:
I'll give him a solid ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Overall, Hexy stays true to his plan, and I think in the long run that's what we need.— Ian (Terrell’s cousin) Owens (@Ian_Owenss) March 1, 2017