If you have been so fixated on the Washington Capitals’ race to win a second consecutive Stanley Cup or on Tampa Bay leading the NHL with 52 points, you might not have realized the plight of the Philadelphia Flyers. After losing four straight and 11 of their last 14, the Flyers are dead last in the Metropolitan Division. They also happen to be dead last in the entire Eastern Conference. As a result, head coach Dave Hakstol was fired on Monday and Scott Gordon will serve as the interim coach.
The big question for Philadelphia is where do the Flyers go from here? There is a way for Philadelphia to get it back, to begin to compete for Stanley Cups again. It may take some patience, but here is how the Flyers can return to prominence.
Hire the Obvious, But Not Yet Joel Quenneville isn’t going to be sitting around knitting sweaters and watching Chicago Bears games forever. The former Blackhawks coach and winner of three Stanley Cups was fired after a 6-6-3 start this season. He is the best available coach on the market.
If that isn’t enough, Philadelphia general manager Chuck Fletcher and the Quenneville have been family friends for a long time. It was Fletcher’s father who gave Quenneville his first NHL job (as an assistant in the Toronto system). The thing with hiring Quenneville though is that the Flyers shouldn’t do it right away. Quenneville won’t mind. He is still being paid his $6 million for this season (and next!). The Flyers can then play their way into the Jack Hughes sweepstakes. Then, they can hire the former Chicago coach.
Open Up the Wallet It is going to take some offseason maneuvering to rebuild the Flyers roster and if the team is going to compete for titles the first target is Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point. The Lightning C has one year remaining on his contract and Tampa Bay has just over $6 million in salary cap space next season with just 14 players under contract. Point leads the Lightning with 21 goals in 34 games and he is just 22 years old. A nice offer sheet from the Flyers could be enough to bring Point to Philadelphia because the Lightning won’t be able to match it.
Go Get Alex Pietrangelo Remember the Broad Street Bullies? Well, acquiring Pietrangelo wouldn’t be exactly the same, but he is the type of defenseman the Flyers need. Pietrangelo is 28 years old, but he is good for 50 points a season and can play in any situation. St. Louis is one of the few teams that are worse off than Philadelphia right now and you can bet Blues GM Doug Armstrong is listening to any and all trade offers. It might cost a draft pick or two or a young prospect, but getting Pietrangelo would be worth it.
Get Rid of Wayne Simmonds While trading for Pietrangelo may cost the Flyers, they can recoup those losses by trading Simmonds. Yes, Simmonds has produced 97 goals since 2015, but he is exactly the type of player that could command a number of assets the Flyers could use in the future. Plus, Philadelphia signed James van Riemsdyk, who is essentially the same player Simmonds is making him expendable.