I don’t really know a whole lot about basketball, but here’s what my understanding of the Nerlens Noel trade is. The Sixers had two players, a good one, and a bad one. They have been actively trying to trade the bad player, but constantly refuse offers they deemed “not enough”. Then they went and traded the good player for less than what they were asking for for the bad player because they didn’t wanna pay the good player after this season.
That Feels like if the Flyers were trying to trade Chris VandeVelde but no one would give up a 1st and a prospect so they end up trading Couturier for a 4th and a forward who might be a good 3rd liner. Add that trade to the other dubious moves by the Sixers management over the past few days and the Sixers have taken all of the fans good vibes and lit them on fire in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot. Amazing how lying about a players injury and making a stupid move will turn a fanbase against you.
Fans turning against the team seems to be a theme for Philadelphia. The Sixers were the last light before this week, and Dave Hakstol has been slowly chipping away at fans sanity with his mishandling of everything from the nightly lineup to the goaltending. While each baffling decision on its own isn’t that worrying, combine every dumb thing Hakstol has said and done this season and it’s a tire fire. The bad players are being played like they’re going to get better and the good players are struggling. And it’s not just Flyers fans who think the coach isn’t performing.
Dave Hakstol has really been in over his head this season. Can’t think of many coaches who have routinely made more questionable decisions.
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) February 17, 2017
Meanwhile, the tight race in the Eastern Conference has tricked the Flyers into thinking that they might actually be able to do anything in the playoffs. They’re actually very likely to miss the playoffs and get a “not as good as it could’ve been” draft pick. The ten game win streak has clouded their perceptions of themselves as much as it clouded our perception of them. As long as Dave Hakstol keeps giving Andrew MacDonald over twenty minutes a night and expects the 4th line to be the best defense against top talent, the Flyers will continue to lose.
A new leader surges to the front of the (unusually cluttered) Sadness battlefield. pic.twitter.com/ttYL6I9v3u
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 23, 2017
The Penguins did it, why shouldn’t we?
Besides fuming about Chris VandeVelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare getting more ice time than everyone except the 1st line, there are other issues that are causing the Flyers slide into sadness. It’s not fun to think about, but there seems to be something wrong with Claude Giroux. He has 42 points this season which isn’t bad, but in the last 15 games, Giroux has only four points. There are 22 games left in the regular season and without a strong push to end the season, the Captain could have his lowest point totals since the 2012-13 season.
This season, Giroux isn’t generating the same number of shots, especially at even strength. Which could be attributed to the fact that that the Flyers are taking a lot of perimeter shots and shots from the blue line. Simply put, maybe Giroux is being told to start passing right to the defender at the point and hope they score or Wayne Simmonds can get to a rebound. In a recent episode of Broad Street Hockey Radio, Giroux was discussed. In the episode, Dom Luszczyszyn of The Hockey News and The Athletic mentioned that it may be time to start worrying about Giroux’s decline.
But wouldn’t it be great if the answer was as easy as “The Coach is Bad?”. We’ve had trouble with coaches over the last few seasons and I am wary of another change because this team desperately needs some stability. But that counts for the nightly lineup too. Every time a player makes a pass Hakstol doesn’t like the lineups are shuffled and reshuffled. Lines that work aren’t kept together but the only change made to that goddamn 4th line duo is how much time they play a night and how many important shifts they get.
So far this season, every team who has fired their coach miraculously got better. Last season the entire league began to worry that Sidney Crosby had dropped off a cliff and would never be the same…and then they fired the coach.
Johnston year 1: 43-27-12, 1st round exit
Hakstol year 1: 41-27-14, 1st round exit
Johnston year 2: 15-10-2, fired
Hakstol year 2: 28-25-7
— Brad Keffer (@brad_keffer) February 23, 2017
I’m just sayin you guys….just sayin.
Which brings us to the trade rumors. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before “The Philadelphia Flyers are listening to offers on Claude Giroux per Sportsnet.” Now it would be absolutely ridiculous to think that Ron Hextall would hang up the phone on any GM asking about Claude Giroux. It’s his job to listen to offers. This is stupid, though. First off the Facebook page from which this rumor originated cited Sportsnet as a source. In the Sportsnet article, the page is referencing, the author mentions a Sam Carchidi article talking about trades.
Here’s what the article actually says: “The writer goes so far as to argue that Hextall listen to offers on his core players, namely captain Claude Giroux.” which Carchidi doesn’t actually even do. In Carchidi’s article, he offers some options for fixing the Flyers. What he ACTUALLY says about Giroux is this:
“Listen to offers for one of the core players because the makeup of this team is not working. In other words, nobody should be deemed untouchable if the right offer came along. Find out why Claude Giroux looks as if he’s 29 going on 34. Maybe Giroux is playing injured, though he denies it…”
Yes, there’s a loose implication that Hextall should look into trading Giroux but it’s not stated outright. Besides that Giroux’s contract is probably too much for another team to consider taking on, especially if more of the league actually views him as a player in rapid decline. There’s also the No Movement Clause that Giroux has which adds another layer of difficulty to trading him. If anything is happening, the Flyers will ask him to waive that which will be big and reported by actual credible sources.
Showcasing bad players
Not a real thing. In no way shape or form is putting mediocre to bad players in more important roles with more minutes that they can’t handle “showcasing” them for a trade. If anything it is showing that your coach doesn’t know shit about talent and loves to embarrass your team.
Playing Andrew MacDonald on your top pair every night doesn’t do anything to highlight the mediocre moments he has because he makes so many more horrible moments. If MacDonald was playing against bottom six lines every night he might actually look like a useful NHL player. Keep sticking him out there against John Tavares though and watch him look like an AHLer and blow a few games. Same goes for a goalie letting in 4-6 goals a game. Just because you start him in 6 straight games doesn’t create the illusion that he’s suddenly really good.
The Flyers should absolutely be sellers at the deadline and it’s kind of ridiculous to think that if they beat the Penguins in the Outdoor Classic game, Hextall could consider pushing for a playoff run that will inevitably go nowhere.
Flyers GM Ron Hextall made it sound like Stadium Series result could push him into seller mode pic.twitter.com/ET8iHkrUZn
— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) February 25, 2017
Finding a buyer for Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto could be our only hope. Despite Pierre McGuire talking up the Flyers 4th line, I don’t believe a team heading into the playoffs is gonna pick up a player based on Pierre’s praise. Clearing out the blueline would also open up some spots for some defensive prospects.
A goalie that isn’t Ben Bishop
Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth have taken contract years and done absolutely nothing with them. Neither has been particularly good or worthy of a new contract. It probably doesn’t help that Dave Hakstol has flip-flopped between the two all season, but they haven’t helped themselves either. Now the Flyers may need a replacement because even if Hextall is willing to give one of them a new contract, they may not want to stay here with a waffling coach. So fans have been looking for the answer to the Flyers goaltending future for a while. In one of Elliotte Friedman’s recent 30 Thoughts, he mentions Chicago backup Scott Darling.
“Watching Scott Darling beat Edmonton last weekend, I couldn’t help but wonder if he is this year’s Cam Talbot — ready to move on from being an understudy on a good team to being a No. 1 somewhere else.”
A departure from the expensive names like Ben Bishop and the expensive and bad names like anyone from Dallas, Scott Darling is making under a million dollars this season and is an unrestricted free agent. Now the Blackhawks have said they would like to keep Darling, but they don’t exactly have the cap space available, especially with up to nine other free agents they’ll need to re-sign. Darling has only played 24 games this season so another team may not be ready to give him a big contract as a starter just yet. The Flyers may be able to get Darling for a reasonable price and finally pull Stolarz up to be a regular NHL backup.
I’m sure there are a dozen reasons why this wouldn’t work, and I would love for you to explain them all to me. Got an issue with any other point I’ve brought up? Go ahead and voice your opinion in the comments.