The Flyers are in the hunt for a playoff spot but there is no guarantee they make the playoffs in 2018-19 let alone make a deep playoff run. Either way as up and down as the Flyers season has been they are seeing a few positives out of this season. One of them being James Van Riemsdyk. After missing basically all of October and getting off to a slow start, Van Riemsdyk has been catching fire lately and carrying the load for the Flyers.
In March alone JVR has more goals than he did in the first three months of the season. Already, just 18 days into March, JVR has 8-goals in eight games played. Over the last three months JVR has 20-goals in 34 games. Of the Flyers 31 goals in March, JVR has 8 of them making up around 25% of the Flyers goals. Of his 20 goals over the last 3-months and the Flyers 107 goals over those three-months, JVR has comprised of 18% of the Flyers goals.
It is fair to say aside from a slow start and more so a slow two months JVR has been off and running since. This month has been his best to date, with eight goals in eight games and only one of them coming on the power play JVR is finding the back of the net 5 on 5 which is extremely important for teams in order to be successful.
Van Riemsdyk is signed until 2023 on a 7 million dollar annual average value. With a cap hit of 28 million over the next four-years at 29-years-old right on the edge of his prime but still with plenty to give the Flyers signing of JVR this off-season is panning out and looking to be worthy. To assume he will do this until 2023 at age 33 is very likely based off the game he plays. JVR is not an overly physical forward, he is not someone with a ton of speed and he is not a forward that possess a flashy skill-set. He is a better version of Wayne Simmonds per say (I know that may sting for Flyers fans) but it is true. He plays in front of the net, hangs out around the crease and makes his living off the front of the net. With JVR’s current style of play we can assume he will be a 25+ goal scorer for the better of three years.
It was another rough game for Carter Hart and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers lost 5-1 to Montreal Thursday night and lost to 5-2 to Tampa Bay. Granted these are two good Atlantic division teams but still back to back games allowing five goals and Hart getting pulled is not good.
Carter Hart got pulled in Tampa Bay after allowing three goals on nine shots and Thursday night vs Montreal again allowing three goals on nine shots. Carter Hart has now lost two straight games and has been pulled within 10 minutes of the game in back to back starts.
Is there concern from Flyer fans? Probably they are notoriously known as the most knee-jerk reaction fans of them all. Either way the Flyers need to pump the brakes on Hart a little they have been over-using him thus far and it is starting to catch up to him. Yes, he is a very good goalie and has a bright future but they need to be smart with him now. He is young with a ton of potential there is no need he should be trying to make a playoff push for the Flyers. Realistically (and I know most Flyers fans aren’t) if Flyers do SQUEAK into the playoffs they are going to be bounced in the first round.
Since being called up in December 18th Hart has played in 22 games. Of the Flyers 30 games played since December 18th, Hart has started in 22 of them. That is way to heavy of a work load for a young, first-time goaltender. Now that Hart has been pulled in back to back games and has only lasted 10-minutes in both games, allowing some pretty soft goals needs to take a break, sit down, watch some game film, practice and continue to work on his weak areas instead of being thrown into the fire right now expecting to propel the Flyers into a playoff position.
If the Flyers continue to overuse Hart this could be detrimental to his mental toughness/mental health. Hart needs to take a break, watch Cam Talbot/Brian Elliott and slowly get back into the crease. The Flyers have Pittsburgh, Columbus and Buffalo to finish the month. If he starts one of those games I’d be surprised.
The Philadelphia Flyers have narrowed their list down to one name. Chuck Fletcher. A guy the Flyers thought so highly of and when the name(s) for a new GM came out, he was ahead of all the rest.
- Fletcher spent seven-years as the Assistant General Manager with the Florida Panthers (1993-2000).
- The GM for the AHL Louisville Panthers, and Assistant General Manager back and forth for three-years.
- Served as the Director of Hockey Operations and Asst. General Manager for Mighty Ducks AHL/NHL teams (2002-2006).
- Until moving to Pittsburgh to be the Asst. General Manager for their AHL/NHL team from 2006-2009.
- Finally becoming the General Manager/VP. Hockey Ops of the Minnesota Wild for nine-years (2009-2018)
- Shortly serving as the Senior Advisor for the Devils (NHL) this season and now the General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers.
I think I need a break from just writing that CVS style long sheet known as Chuck Fletchers career. Fletcher has work ahead of him in Philadelphia. He built a solid roster in Minnesota, but failed to crack a superstar, due to some contract issues. But Fletcher managed to build a roster that has made Minnesota competitive for the last six years. Under Fletcher the Wild managed to make the playoffs six of the nine seasons he was there. Yet, they only made it past the first round two times. Fletcher will go a team similar to the Wild in terms of success but missing the biggest accolade in hockey, the Stanley Cup.
What will Fletchers first few moves be?
1. Firing Dave Hakstol?
This is not a guaranteed move, but a major possibility with the coaches available right now, one of them being Joel Quenneville. You’d have to think with how frustrated Flyer fans have been with Hakstol over the last few years, and one of the best coaches in hockey being available, they would go out and try and bring in a new face along with Fletcher.
2. Getting a number one goaltender.
This has to be done. Fletcher managed to get Devan Dubnyk in Minnesota and that panned out well. With the Flyers many struggles in net, and it being a huge part to their failures over the last few years (and a big reason they lost in the Stanley Cup final in 2010). With Cam Talbot on the possible block Fletcher may look to reach out to Edmonton to find a price on the goaltender, Scott Darling is available, not a number one but perhaps better than what the Flyers have. Jimmy Howard was rumored to be on the block, Howard has seen his struggles but he is better than any goalie the Flyers have.
3. Trying to build a reliable blue line.
The Flyers have had their struggles on the backend aside from goaltending, the Flyers defense is not all that reliable. With their defense eating up 16.57 million dollars on their cap hit (around four-percent of their cap hit). They have Andrew MacDonald at $5 mil ending in 2020-21, Radko Gudas at 3.35 million ending in 2020-21 and Shayne Gostisbehere at 4.5 million ending in 2023-24, three defenseman eat up half their blue line cap which makes it hard for them to find plug in players to be effective for cheap.
Per TSN Insider the reports that Philadelphia has been actively shopping a new GM is very true. The Flyers fired four year general manager Ron Hextall. Hextall walked into an absolute mess in 2014, he was left with some terrible contracts like Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Andrew MacDonald, and Steve Mason. Hextall managed to shed all these players contracts expect MacDonald. Well things did get better for the Flyers they made the playoffs two years under Hextall and posted an above .500 record every season he was in charge. Hextall was pressured year after year to go out and get a goalie. Well not much happened, the team has been struggling in between the pipes and it seems that the higher ups had enough. They noticed the team struggling early on this season, partially due to goaltending again and cut ties with Hextall.
Who lands in the GM job next for Philadelphia?
But who is going to be the Flyers new GM? There have been many names thrown around but it is said that the Flyers do have four main targets and one of those names is Chuck Fletcher. Who has a long history of Assistant General Manager and General Manager jobs since 1993, his longest run is with the Minnesota Wild where he was on and off General Manager/ Ex. VP of Hockey Operations from 2009-2018, Chuck is now the Senior Advisor for the New Jersey Devils. Another name on the list is Steve Yzerman, who stepped down from the Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager job to be the Senior Advisor. Yzerman spent four season with Detroit after playing with them and eight years with the Lightning as well he was General Manager for Team Canada. Ron Francis the Carolina Hurricanes recent GM was on this list as well. Another name thrown around due to his relationship with Daniel Briere was Chris Drury.
The next GM is clearly going to be a tenured, experienced person who has many years under their belt. If the Flyers go with experience it seems that Chuck Fletcher may be the guy if not but if they do another route they have spoke to Mark Hunter as well. As for now, we will wait and see…