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Exit Interviews: Chuck Fletcher

We conclude our Exit Interview series by having Chuck Fletcher come in for his meeting with the Bob's.

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Chuck, I've been expecting you. Please, come in and have a seat.

Well, where do we begin? We had another post-season in which we one a series, but then were summarily dismissed by Stan Bowman's club. It has to annoy you with his bragging rights he has at the Winter meetings every year. We saw some of the kids you brought in either via the draft or trade really step up. I'll tell you, what a player that Matt Dumba is turning out to be. Jason Zucker had a career year and seems to be finally clicking and it was your patience you showed him by not reacting quickly and trading him after he suffered a set back the previous season.

You did well with locking up a number of our young players like Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, and Marco Scandella. You made some trades throughout the season and at the trade deadline that really paid serious dividends for us. I mean, who would have thought that Devan Dubnyk would come in here and perform the way he did? No one, not even you, expected that kind of performance. Chris Stewart was a good pick up as he helped bring some beef to the line up and he scored a few, but huge, goals for us down the stretch. He was one of the few players that seemed to really gel with Mikko Koivu. Jordan Leopold was a move that helped solidify a third defense pairing that lacked consistency, not only in quality of play, but in personnel as well. We even understand the move for Sean Bergenheim, but it just didn't work out like we'd hoped. Jordan Schroeder was a nice, sneaky acquisition prior to this season.

It's tough to look at what happened negatively though. A 20172nd Round pick was dealt for Stewart, who is likely to not return even though we don't have a 2016 2nd rounder. Third round picks were given up for both Bergenheim and Dubnyk. You backed yourself into a wall with the goaltending situation. First you failed to really address the situation ahead of the season and decided to depend on a rookie that played just 38 games in the NHL, a 35 year old broken down vet, and a goalie that has Multiple Sclerosis - not exactly scream solidarity. Then when Josh Harding broke his foot, you had to cave to Darcy Kuemper's terms. You picked up defensemen like Justin Falk and Nate Prosser again! After getting rid of them last offseason, why get them again? The "no-move" and "no-trade" clauses in contracts you've handed out have made your salary cap flexibility more rigid. Thomas Vanek's contract and the utter immovability of it makes it tough on you trying to navigate a salary cap league.

Now you've put yourself in a position where you need to make room to sign Dubnyk and Mikael Granlund, while leaving hardly any room to sign any of the Unrestricted Free Agents you made moves for. You will likely be carrying three goalies on roster unless a miracle can happen and our physicians can clear Niklas Backstrom.

All-in-all Chuck, we like you, but we are going to need better. Better at negotiating contracts, better at using assets, and better at navigating the Cap. Sure, there is plenty of good to point to. Your willingness to admit a mistake and then attempt to fix it, your unrelenting continued search for players to make this team better, and your fearlessness in making a deal is what we have enjoyed about your tenure. The coach you brought in to lead this team has brought this team, franchise, and community to the post-season now three years in a row and it's that kind of success we enjoy around these offices. Ultimately, we want that shiny Cup as the prize and we think with some small changes in philosophy as you grow, you will be the leader of this team when that day comes when we win a Stanley Cup.

Offseason Homework

1.) Create some cap space. Whether it's buyouts or trades, creating some room for key players will be necessary this offseason into next season. It is a good start with buying out Matt Cooke.

2.) Figure out this goalie situation. Carrying three goaltenders next season will be deemed unacceptable, as will entering the season with just Kuemper and Backstrom. Whether you can come to terms with Dubnyk, or signing a different net-minder, the goaltending just needs to be figured out.

3.) Take away Mike's toys. Sure, Falk, Prosser, and even players like Ryan Carter to an extent, provide depth in the bottom of the roster, or even in Iowa. However, a body is all they provide. We have window of winning a Stanley Cup and those players are never going to solid role players on a Cup winning team. We need to force Yeo's hand a bit when making personnel decisions to ice the very best team every night.