Now that the newest NHL franchise has a name, the Seattle Kraken, their impending debut starts to feel real. The team will debut during the 2021-22 season and the expansion draft will take place in the summer of 2021. The Vegas Golden Knights, the most recent expansion team, became the best expansion team in NHL history, and it’s projected that Seattle will be just as dangerous. During the 2017 expansion, the Flyers were lucky to only lose fourth liner Pierre Edouard Bellemare. This time around, however, the Flyers don’t seem to be as lucky, so who is likely to be the victim this time?
Three rules that must be followed for the expansion draft read as followed-
- Either include a list of seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender OR eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender
- Players with a “No Movement” clause must be protected if the player does not waive the clause
- First and second-year professional players and unsigned draft picks are not eligible for the expansion draft and won’t need to be protected
Number 5- Scott Laughton
At least one of the unintended consequences of building a powerhouse of a team is when it comes time for an expansion draft, you can’t protect everyone. Scott Laughton is finally finding his stride in the NHL after being drafted in the first round in 2012. His play continues to improve and his role in the team continues to elevate. Laughton posted a new career high in goals with 13, and would’ve broken his career high in points had the season not been paused. Losing Laughton would probably be the worst case scenario, and probably only happen if they went the eight skaters/one goalie rout to protect more defenseman. So even though it’s unlikely, it’s not impossible.
Number 4- Robert Hagg
Even though most of the prospects the Flyers currently have in their system are already in the NHL, there is still an abundance of defenseman at various levels in the organization. Egor Zamula, Cam York, Wyatte Wylie, and Linus Hogberg are all potential NHL caliber players who will be looking to make the jump over the next few seasons. Robert Hagg is currently waiting on a contract extension as his two-year bridge deal is up, though he is still a restricted free agent. If the Flyers bring him back for a couple years, maybe they could bait the Kraken into taking Hagg, with some extra encouragement in the form of draft picks if necessary.
Number 3- Jake Voracek
Probably the most intriguing option for Seattle is soon-to-be-31-year-old forward Jake Voracek. Unlike the other two highest paid forwards Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes, Voracek does not have a no-movement clause, so he is eligible to be left uprotected. However, there are far more pressing contracts for the Flyers to try and unload before they dump Voracek, who was well on his way to posting his fourth-consecutive 60-point season. He wouldn’t be the first to go, but could pose as an interesting “rip cord” option if the salary cap closes in quicker than expected.
Number 2- Shayne Gostisbehere
In a perfect world, the Flyers would dump the ugly contract of Shayne Gostisbehere this offseason in an effort to keep other, more important, players, but if they hang onto him for one more season, he immediately becomes one of the players primed for a one-way trip to Seattle. At the end of next season Ghost will still have two years left on a deal that pays him $4.5 million a season. With so many talented defenseman on the roster and in the system, Ghost’s roster spot is not a guarantee anymore, and if the player can’t even dress on a nightly basis, let alone play a major role, there are many better options where that $4.5 million can be invested in.
Number 1- James Van Riemsdyk
In the same boat as Gostisbehere, the quicker the Flyers can get rid of James Van Riemsdyk they better. At the end of the 2020-21 season, JVR will still have two years left on a contract that pays him $7 million a season. Before the end of his current deal, the team will have to re-sign Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, as well as re-upping Travis Sanheim and Carter Hart. They will no-doubt feel the squeeze from the salary cap, especially with the coronavirus pandemic keeping the salary cap flat for the foreseeable future. Even though his overall games leaves a lot to be desired, he still seems capable of scoring 20 goals a season and in the right environment, may be able to find flashes of his former glory.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: espn.com