The Philadelphia Flyers organization is going through turmoil to say the least. How does the upheaval in Philly affect the Columbus Blue Jackets though?
The Columbus Blue Jackets travel to Philadelphia to take on a reeling Flyers organization that is going through changes from top to bottom. Last month general manager Ron Hextall was fired by the ownership group and former Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher was brought in. That huge change was pretty much the writing on the wall for head coach Dave Hakstol.
On Monday, Hakstol was removed from his duties as head coach for the Flyers and Scott Gordon was hired as interim head coach. Gordon was the head coach of the Flyers AHL team in Lehigh Valley.
Upon the firing of Hakstol, new GM Fletcher in a release said,
"“After meeting this morning with Dave Hakstol and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to relieve him of his duties as head coach. As I continue to assess the team, I feel that this is the best course of action for our group moving forward.”"
The Jackets only play the Flyers two more times this year so the direct impact on the ice against the Flyers won’t be substantial. The biggest impact will be in how low the Flyers actually dip and how much they sell off. The Flyers have several prime trade candidates that new the general manager is likely to ship out of town before the trade deadline. Most notably, Wayne Simmons.
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The Flyers have also called up rookie goalie Carter Hart and seemingly have decided that now is the time to test their number one prospect. Hart did win his first start in the NHL but I wouldn’t put money on him having a winning record this year.
With a new goalie and some veterans likely to be traded away, this Flyers team could be in the running for the top pick in the draft this year. This wouldn’t be a bad year to tank with Jack Hughes awaiting the winner of the draft lottery.
As the Flyers continue their season they will become an easier out for Metro opponents which will make the Jackets fight to stay in a playoff spot. They Flyers also likely wont trade within the division to any contender like the Penguins or Caps, but they could send off some valuable rentals to an Atlantic team looking to make a push. That would make getting a wild card slot for the Jackets.
Long term, these moves look like they are going to help the Flyers though. They have a solid farm system and Chuck Fletcher has proven he can build a team capable of making the playoffs year in and year out, but maybe not a Stanley Cup contender. The Flyers also are a likely landing spot for coaching legend Joel Queneville. It’s not hard to see the Flyers becoming a dominate force again soon and becoming more of a pest to the Jackets.