Flyers

Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher appears to be looking beyond this season

Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher appears to be looking beyond this season

Chuck Fletcher’s history suggests that the next few months could be his busiest in the trade market.

The Athletic’s Craig Custance broke down the moves of 27 NHL general managers (four were not ranked based on a lack of activity) and their tendencies regarding the deals they’ve made.

While Fletcher doesn’t have the volume of deals as his counterparts across the league, 80 percent of Fletcher’s trades — all with the Wild — occurred between Jan. 1 and the league’s trading deadline, typically the end of February. That number was the highest percentage of any GM in the league.

Fletcher joined The Power Play with Steve Kouleas and Matthew Barnaby on SiriusXM NHL Radio Thursday evening and laid out some of his approach as it pertains to the Flyers.

We’re not looking to do anything crazy. Moving top prospects and top picks for rentals, that doesn’t do much good. Certainly, we do have a lot of prospects here and a lot of picks. That’s not to say we wouldn’t do something to add a player, particularly if that player had term left on his contract.

In saying that, Fletcher doesn’t appear to be a buyer and is rather positioning himself as a seller with an eye toward next season and beyond. 

Custance also broke down the trades from a position of a buyer, a seller or just an overall hockey trade. Fletcher has been on the “seller” side of deals in just 20 percent of the trades he has made as opposed to 35 percent from the buyer’s side. Numbers that are more reflective of how stable the Wild were during Fletcher’s tenure when Minnesota was a playoff team in six of Fletcher’s final nine seasons.

One area Fletcher could address is finding a veteran goaltender with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth playing out the final year of their respective contracts. While Carter Hart may not have seen action this early in his Flyers career during the Ron Hextall era, Fletcher is willing to see how well Hart plays and if he can have sustained success at the NHL level.

“The important thing for Carter is making sure he’s playing,” Fletcher said. “If he’s playing well here and getting the majority of starts, that’s great. If he ends up being a backup for a while, that doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s hard to predict, but as long as he’s playing, I’ll be happy and winning games up here, that’s great. We won’t put any limits on him.”

A prospect without limitations is a refreshing deviation from Hextall’s days as GM as Fletcher acknowledges the future is now. The next few months may show us just how quickly he’s willing to get there.

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Breaking down 2019-20 third-line competition after Flyers' signing of Chris Stewart to pro tryout

Breaking down 2019-20 third-line competition after Flyers' signing of Chris Stewart to pro tryout

You can never have enough competition.

There will be plenty of it when training camp rolls around in September as the Flyers have a third-line job opening on the wing.

General manager Chuck Fletcher added a candidate Wednesday by signing forward Chris Stewart to an NHL pro tryout for camp.

Stewart, 31, was a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Avalanche and has played 652 career NHL games between six teams. His best season came as a 22-year-old with the Avalanche in 2009-10, when he scored 64 points (28 goals, 36 assists) over 77 games. Last season, he played in the EIHL for the Nottingham Panthers, scoring 13 points (six goals, seven assists) through 23 games.

The 6-foot-2, 242-pound winger has ties to the Flyers' GM. He played parts of three seasons for Fletcher's Wild from 2014 to 2018, putting up 25 goals, 20 assists and a plus-6 rating in 146 games.

The Flyers like their options for the third-line winger vacancy. The names include Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Andy Andreoff and Kurtis Gabriel.

Farabee and Frost have drawn a lot of attention as young first-round draft picks coming off big seasons with Boston University (see story) and the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (see story), respectively. Rubtsov is an underrated option given his size, advanced game and positional versatility. Ratcliffe is a 6-foot-6 winger who scored 50 goals last season with the OHL's Guelph Storm, while Vorobyev saw time with the Flyers in 2018-19.

"It's more than Farabee and Frost," Fletcher said July 1. "I think Rubtsov had a tremendous prospect camp here. Ratcliffe is a quality young player. Vorobyev is a young man that we feel is going to come back next year a little bit stronger.

"There are several players down there that can play games, never mind Andreoff, who's a player that I think will make a very strong push to make our team this season. Kurtis Gabriel is a player that's played games in the NHL the past few seasons. We have a lot of options. That's what training camp is for — it's an opportunity for players to come in and show that they belong. It should be an exciting camp."

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Flyers mascot Gritty works on his dad bod at Planet Fitness

Flyers mascot Gritty works on his dad bod at Planet Fitness

Did you think Gritty was going to be satisfied with winning the NHL Fan Choice Awards honor for best mascot?

Think again.

The guy is not resting on his laurels this summer. He's training hard for 2019-20. He was seen working up a sweat Tuesday at the Planet Fitness on Christopher Columbus Boulevard.


(Picture courtesy of NBC Sports Philadelphia's Todd Berman)

Rumor has it Gritty is working on his summer abs.

Or maybe not.

Regardless, the orange fella knows how to stay in shape. He's a preparation junkie, a true gym (and rink) rat. Complacency is not in Gritty's vocabulary.

He's also not breaking glass and scaring kids, so that's a positive.

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