Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher says the 13th-overall pick is available for trade.
“Look, it’s a really good asset,” said Fletcher, who acknowledged that he’d be picking sooner than he’d hoped after the Flyers slid down to 19th place in the NHL standings last season.
“If we use our first-round pick to select a player, we’re obviously going to be able to draft a high-quality player that’ll help us. Yet, because it’s of high asset value, I think we have to explore what we can do with it.
“If there’s some way we can help our team — not just in the short term, but moreover several years over the longer term — and it cost me the first-round pick? If I can get that type of asset, I’ll certainly look at doing it.”
Wide-Ranging Improvement Needed
Fletcher has been frank about wanting to make major renovations to his lineup. He remains committed to shoring up the defensive side of his squad’s game.
“We have holes we need to fill and we have players that are currently on our roster that need to play much better,” he summarized. “It’s got to be a holistic approach.
“It’s not just one player that’s going to turn it around, it’s everybody, starting with me, that has to be much better this year. That has been conveyed to everybody in the organization.”
From that wide-angle perspective, Fletcher was reluctant to get too specific about what type of return he’d require if he was to surrender his first-rounder.
“if you’re going to move the 13th overall pick, either by itself or as part of the package, you better be getting a really good player that can help you for a few years,” he said. “I’m not sure that it has to be position-specific. Certainly, you want to make sure you’re getting a good player that can help you in the short and long term.”
Jones Talks Cold; Voracek To Move?
Seth Jones would be a great fit for the Flyers’ needs — a young, right-shot defenseman who brings a complete game. He was strongly linked to the organization after the news dropped that he wasn’t interested in signing a contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet indicated this week that talks had broken off because Jones was also unwilling to sign a long-term extension if he was traded. “That’s his right, to wait unless he’s certain,” Friedman wrote in his ’31 Thoughts’ column. “But Philly won’t make the deal without it.”
Friedman also wrote that Flyers’ forward Jakub Voracek will be left unprotected for the Seattle Expansion Draft, which takes place on July 21, and that the team will explore the possibility of a trade if he isn’t selected.
On Tuesday, Fletcher said that he feels Philadelphia’s protected list is fairly straightforward. But if Kraken general manager Ron Francis is interested in cutting a side deal, he’ll be listening.
“My expectation is we’ll submit the (protected) list,” he said. “Whether there’ll be conversations after we submit the list or not, time will tell.
“We’re certainly comfortable submitting the list and having them select a player. I’ve just indicated to them if they have ideas on something else they want to accomplish to let us know.”
Fletcher’s Expansion Experience
Will Fletcher proceed with caution after he got roasted following the Vegas expansion draft in 2017? Then the general manager of the Minnesota Wild, he hatched a scheme to hang on to defenseman Matt Dumba.
Fletcher and Vegas GM George McPhee made a trade. Vegas acquired first-year pro Alex Tuch in exchange for a conditional third-round draft pick, which became minor-league center Connor Dewar. With one good, expansion-exempt asset already in his pocket, McPhee agreed to steer clear of Dumba and select forward Erik Haula instead.
The scheme blew up when Haula parlayed his larger on-ice role into career highs of 29 goals and 55 points. Tuch immediately graduated to full-time NHL status and now, at 25, is a centerpiece of the Golden Knights’ offense.
This time around, Fletcher says the lay of the land is different.
“For this expansion draft, we had more time than we did versus the Vegas draft,” he said. “More time to make sure we had all the holes filled and we met all the criteria that we needed to meet. From that standpoint, it’s been a little simpler.”
“Our team in Minnesota was a lot different than the team here in terms of the makeup and the composition of the players,” he said. “I think your goal is always to do the best thing for the organization.”
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“In our case here now, I think our decisions, we had pretty good unanimity of what we wanted to do when we had our pro scouts in town,” he said. “I think it’s a process that may be a little bit more experienced. But we had more time to prepare. Again, I think our list is pretty straightforward.”
Fletcher said he has had dialogue with some players who could find themselves exposed. But final protection lists are due for submission until this weekend.
“As we get closer to Saturday, whether it’s Friday or Saturday, I will reach out to some of the players, for sure, to give them a courtesy heads up,” he said. “Things could still change, so I don’t want to jump the gun too much. I think a few of them are aware of what our position is, and we’ve had good conversations.”