While certainly no one saw the Flyers’ disastrous 2020-21 season coming, we did know that the summer of 2021 would have the league’s first expansion draft since 2017 where the NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken would draft one player from 30 teams.
I wrote a similar article to this last summer but things have likely changed a bit in their expansion draft plans after a season to forget for many Flyers players.
With the expansion draft coming on June 21st, just under two months away, let’s look at how the Flyers stand and see who Seattle might poach from their roster.
Expansion Draft Rules
FOR SEATTLE KRAKEN:
Just like Vegas in 2017, Seattle must select one player from each roster, exluding the Golden Knights since they have not been in the league long enough, for a total of 30 players.
Of those 30 players, Seattle must select:
- 14 forwards
- 9 defenseman
- 3 goaltenders
FOR THE REST OF THE LEAGUE: They are also subject to the same rules as the 2017 expansion draft and must choose one of two protection plans:
- 7 forwards
- 3 defenseman
- 1 goalie
- 8 skaters (forwards/defenseman)
- 1 goalie
Most teams will likely choose the 7/3/1 method unless they have a lot of valuable defensemen on their roster that they value more than their forwards.
Teams will also be subject to the following rules regarding who must be left exposed and who is not eligible for the expansion draft:
- First and second-year players and unsigned draft choices will not count towards the protection limits.
- Teams must expose one defenseman who is both under contract in 2021-22 AND played in at least 40 NHL games during the 2020-21 season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
- Two forwards who are both under contract in 2021-22 AND played at least 40 NHL games during the 2020-21 season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
- One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract prior to the 2021-22 season.
- “Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a team’s player exposure requirements unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection.”
The Flyers’ Situation
As I mentioned in my expansion draft article from last summer, the Flyers will not get off easy in this year’s expansion draft like they did in 2017 where the Vegas Golden Knights took fourth-liner Pierre Edouard-Bellemare.
The Flyers have more a lot more valuable players than they did four years ago with players like Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Carter Hart all needing to be protected (and they will be despite their struggles this season).
Before we dive into who they might and might not protect, let’s look at who is not eligible to be taken by Seattle due to being first or second-year players:
Potential Protection Plan
Chuck Fletcher will likely choose the 7F/3D/1G method since the Flyers really don’t have any defenseman worth protecting outside of their top 3.
While they will likely have some decisions to make as to which seven forwards they will protect, I still believe that their plan on defense is pretty straightforward – Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Phil Myers.
All three of them have had their fair share of struggles which have led to the Flyers’ disastrous defense this season, but the potential is still there. The one player who could throw a wrench in this plan is Shayne Gostisbehere after a bit of a rebound season, but it seems that he just doesn’t fit their plan moving forward especially with Cam York’s debut on the horizon. Add in that he has a $4.5 million cap hit and it just doesn’t seem likely they would choose him over Phil Myers or Travis Sanheim.
There will certainly be a lot of discussion about who fits into the Flyers’ future up front. With most of their forwards under contract for next season, the Flyers will have some tough decisions to make when setting their protected forwards list.
Let’s get the three easy ones out of the way first – Claude Giroux. Sean Couturier, and Kevin Hayes. Both Giroux and Hayes have no-move clauses and will have to be protected unless they decide to waive them and even then, why would the Flyers let them go for nothing in return? As for Sean Couturier, there’s really no discussion either. He will be here for a long time.
Outside of Giroux, Hayes, and Couturier, they have a few younger players they will definitely protect in Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny who both just signed extensions this season.
As for the last two spots, the Flyers have decisions to make: James van Riemsdyk, Jake Voracek, and Oskar Lindblom will all need to be protected from Seattle.
Even though the argument can be made that Voracek is overpaid and not as dominant as he used to be, it’s still unlikely they leave him exposed where Seattle can take a guy who still averages 50 points and give the Flyers nothing in return. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Flyers tried to move Voracek in the offseason but not in the expansion draft.
Should the Flyers choose to protect Voracek, they will have one spot left for either Oskar Lindblom or James van Riemsdyk. Though JVR was more productive this year and Lindblom is still trying to return to form after his heroic battle with cancer last season, I’d be quite surprised if the Flyers chose to protect JVR with his huge $7 million cap hit and leave Lindblom exposed. It would be unfortunate to let JVR go without getting something in return, but if Lindblom can get back to his old self, he will be a huge asset to the Flyers at a much lesser cap hit and is seven years younger than van Riemsdyk.
Carter Hart will be a restricted free agent this summer and is due for a new contract. He will also need to be protected in the expansion draft. There’s really no other option here.
So with all that in mind, this is what my protection list for the Flyers would look like:
Forwards (7): Claude Giroux (NMC), Kevin Hayes (NMC), Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Jake Voracek, Oskar Lindblom
Exposed: James van Reimsdyk, Nicolas Aubé-Kubel, Nolan Patrick (RFA), German Rubstov (RFA), Pascal Laberge (RFA), Carsen Twarynski (RFA), David Kase (RFA), Andy Andreoff (UFA), Connor Bunnaman (RFA)
Defensemen (3): Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim (RFA), Phil Myers
Exposed: Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Braun, Samuel Morin (UFA), Derrick Pouliot (UFA), Tyler Wotherspoon (UFA), Chris Bigras (UFA), Nate Prosser (UFA)
Goaltender (1): Hart
Exposed: Brian Elliott (UFA), Alex Lyon (RFA), Felix Sandström (RFA)
Featured Image: Jose F. Moreno/Philadelphia Inquirer