Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher defends inaction at the NHL trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline has officially passed and now the Philadelphia Flyers fan base is demanding answers.

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher had a deal that involved impending free agent James van Riemsdyk falling through with minutes to spare before the deadline. Van Riemsdyk was one of the best forwards available at the trade deadline, and now the Flyers risk the possibility of losing him this summer for nothing.

On Tuesday afternoon, Fletcher told reporters that the Flyers would be sellers. But instead of moving their most valuable trade candidate, they sent depth forwards Patrick Brown and Zach MacEwen and ended up acquiring a pair of draft picks and an enforcer.

It was another stunning failure in a laundry list of gaffes from the Flyers’ GM. And minutes after Friday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, Fletcher did his best to defend his inaction while speaking to the media.

“I had no offers at all until about 1:40,” Fletcher said. “I got a call from a team and they had a concept that if they were able to move on from their team, then they were interested in buying JvR. We talked about the parameters and what the deal would look like and that made sense from that point of view, but all along it was contingent on the other trade going through. And eventually the other deal fell through.”

Fletcher claimed he found out the deal fell through about 25 minutes before the deadline.

“We certainly made everyone aware that he was available. We made everyone aware that we wanted to keep 50%. We made everyone aware that we could even take back a contract if it helped a little bit more on top or the cash. We talked about a different reach, different ways to get there, prospects, a choice, multiple choices, whatever it would be – conditional choice – we talked about all kinds of different scenarios. But at the end of the day, I can only control my half, and there has to be a willing buyer. And up until 1:40 today, we never had any kind of offer, and the offer we got was conditional.”

It’s a little strange that only one team approached the Flyers about acquiring van Riemsdyk. While his numbers have dipped this season, van Riemsdyk remains a solid mid-six point producer on the wing. After all, it was only last season that he led the Flyers in goals.

The 33-year-old has seven 20-plus goal seasons under his belt and has actually stood out this season (in a good way) in the playmaking department. He is the only Flyer with a 5-on-5 Corsi For percentage above 50%, and he has posted solid numbers in a number of other advanced statistical categories.

Van Riemsdyk’s services may no longer be needed for a non-playoff team in Philadelphia, but they would certainly benefit a team preparing for a deep postseason run. However, according to Fletcher, no team was willing to give up a fourth-round pick for him.

“That’s exactly what I had been saying to the teams. ‘This guy’s a good player. He can help you. I’ll give him to you for $3.5 million and let’s make a fair deal.’

That deal obviously never came.

Now, Fletcher is aiming to improve the team in the offseason, and he’d like to do that by injecting even more youth into the roster, something he also stated during his media availability on Tuesday.

– Our goal is to become younger. We want to add more young assets. We are a younger team this year. We have some parts in the Lehigh Valley and other places that we think can be part of the solution going forward. We have some veteran players on our team, medium guys, who we think can be a part of this as well as we go forward.

“We just want to continue to look at every opportunity to get better. The trade deadline was an opportunity. There weren’t fair deals to be made in my opinion. There are some things that could potentially happen in the summer, and as we move forward, we will just keep looking at those opportunities.”

But will Fletcher even be around to make a move in the summer? With this latest misstep, there is a legitimate possibility that Fletcher could be in serious danger of losing his job. And given the sheer number of unproductive moves he’s made as Flyers general manager, it would be hard for anyone to give him anything even loosely resembling a vote of confidence.

But that’s not something Fletcher is thinking about at this point.

“I’m not worried about my job. Whatever happens to me will happen to me. That’s up to Dave Scott,” Fletcher said. “Everything I do is about doing what’s right for the Philadelphia Flyers and not taking shortcuts. And that’s partly why we didn’t make more deals today. The deals that were presented to me were not good deals for the Philadelphia Flyers.”

The Flyers’ next game comes Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings at the Wells Fargo Center, and one can logically assume that fans will voice their displeasure with the state of the team throughout the evening.

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