Fletcher said that the acquisitions of veterans Nate Thompson and Derek Grant were geared toward adding forward depth and some versatility (Grant can play all three forward positions) to the roster. He was not concerned with responding to moves that other teams made.
"We were looking to upgrade our depth at forward. We like our depth in goal, we like our depth in defense, and we have been carrying 12 forwards for a while," Fletcher said. "We weren't looking to overhaul our team, we weren't looking to make dramatic changes. To me the summer is the best time to do that. We made a lot of dramatic I thought last summer, in terms of the number of players we brought in. this was more about depth, character, experience, specific roles and Grant gives us some flexibility."
Thompson will step in as fourth line center. Grant, who has primarily played center this season, will start out on a wing and could be moved around the lineup depending on the opponent and how well he and his line are playing at a given time.
"We are carrying 12 forwards and you hope for the best, but sometimes things happen. Just to have guys that can move around the lineup. We have seen that a lot of players- Laughton, Raffl. A lot of these guys can do different roles when asked and Grant is another one of those players," Fletcher said.
2. "Joel has been a real big part of our team this year, and he is even a much bigger part of our future."
The Flyers sent Joel Farabee and Connor Bunnaman to the Phantoms on Monday, which was also the AHL's deadline for appearing in regular season or Calder Cup playoff games for the remainder of the campaign. Bunnaman's assigment was not a surprise, given the Grant and Thompson acquisitions.
The decision to send Farabee to the Phantoms was a bit more surprising, given that he's been a regular in the Flyers' lineup for much of the season. Farabee will stay with Lehigh Valley for the time being, at least, but Fletcher did not rule out the possibility of the youngster rejoining the NHL squad during the stretch drive and/or playoffs.Video: Hear from Fletcher regarding trade deadline
"That was more my decision. I think you guys have probably heard this from me before, I just want to make sure we are giving Joel every opportunity to be the player he can become. He's played fine, and I have no doubt that he will be part of our group again, maybe in the near future. We are only carrying 12 forwards. For him to go down and get first line minutes, first line power play, not always have to be the responsible line in the line, be maybe the guy to drive the play, get more puck touches and we can't forget he is only 19 years old. Joel has been a real big part of our team this year, and he is even a much bigger part of our future," Fletcher said.
'Sometimes I just like to have these young players play in an environment where they can be more successful, particularly offensively. But again, we are carrying 12 forwards. Joel is another one of those versatile guys I mentioned. He can play either wing. He has played first line, second line, third line, fourth line. I have no doubt he will be back with us and help us again sometime. But right now, we will just take it day to day."
In addition to Farabee, depending on how he plays in Lehigh Valley, it is also possible that 20-year-old prospect Morgan Frost or other young players who have appeared in the NHL could make return trips to Philadelphia. This will depend on their play and on team needs, according to Fletcher.
"Farabee's a guy, I think, that can still impact our club. Frost is a kind that, you never know, could continue to push. Bunnaman's played well. We weren't looking to do anything big, but you're always poking around," Fletcher said.
3. "I don't think it says anything about Nolan's situation."
Nolan Patrick's recovery from chronic migraine disorder has progressed to the point where he is able to skate with the team on virtually a daily basis. He is not, however, yet cleared for contact. Fletcher denied that the Grant and Thompson acquisitions were tantamount to conceding that Patrick would not play in the NHL this season.
"I don't think it says anything about Nolan's situation in particular. Obviously, there is uncertainty. He had a good day today. I think our hope is he can continue to progress and sometime in the next couple weeks he can get to full contact and full practice and get to unrestricted practice I guess you could call it. From there, the next step is games. I still believe he will play. I am not a doctor. I am not basing it on any specific knowledge other than I have seen the improvement," Fletcher said.
"I speak to him most days. I am still hopeful and expecting him to play this year. But we are not there. We have some more steps to go. There is still that uncertainty, but he would be a great add there is a right shot center that we could plug in. he could play anywhere. He is a guy I believe could play wing if he had to. He could certainly play center. He could move up and down your lineup. He has a tremendous skill set. He would be a really nice addition, and I hope that comes to pass."
Under the rules of the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, although the AHL's "Clear Day" has now passed, there is still a possibility that Patrick could be sent on a maximum six-day/ three-game stint to the Phantoms while still on LTIR at the NHL level.
However, this is strictly a hypothetical possibility until Patrick is cleared for contact and works up to the potential six-day AHL assignment. If things were to progress to the point where he is able to return to the NHL, the team does have enough cap space to activate him from LTIR without exceeding the cap, per Fletcher.
4. "I'm amazed on how often I am trading [Ghost]."
Last weekend, Shayne Gostisbehere played games on back-to-back nights for the Phantoms as part of regaining his conditioning following arthroscopic knee surgery on Jan. 14. After the trade deadline, Fletcher poked fun at the slew of trade rumors that surrounded the defenseman in the months leading up to the deadline. According to Fletcher, nothing was ever close to happening on that front.
"That's been the interesting one. I've been here a year. I can't say I am always on social media but I'm amazed on how often I am trading him. I like Shayne. He's gone through a few weeks, probably over a month now with some knee issues. He's cleaned it up. He skated really well this weekend," Fletcher said.
"Right now, we are carrying seven D. He's one of them. He's a guy that I think can still contribute. He can play on the power play. We weren't looking to move him. Teams have called me on him. Nothing really makes sense to me right now to move one of our seven D unless we are getting a great impact player back in some area. Those types of trades don't happen now. I think Shayne can get back to where he was and help us. If he can take a step and get the confidence back offensively, that would be a big boost to our team."
5. "You always like a little flexibility in the summer to address needs."
Both Grant and Thompson are unrestricted free agents this summer. Fletcher said that part of his thinking was to not have too much cap space tied up for next year, so that the team can plan for the long-term, including not blocking opportunities for young players.
"We don't know where the cap will be exactly next year. You always like a little flexibility in the summer to address needs. We'll see where a player like Nolan's at. Maybe where a player like Oskar's at. See how Farabee and Frost finish the year. There's still a lot of things you want to get more information before you commit too many dollars to the future. We have a lot of good young players. There's no question they can be impacting our club pretty soon," Fletcher said.Video: Hear from Vigneault and players on trade deadline