Now that the dust from the NHL trade deadline has settled the Philadelphia Flyers have a better idea of what their roster will look like this summer. With Scott Laughton re-signed and Michael Raffl and Erik Gustafsson shipped out of town, their plan for Seattle is starting to take shape. Yet on the heels of another underwhelming season, the question of who they feel is worth protecting is valid, so what are the pros and cons of the two different expansion methods?
Tho only two players the Flyers are required to protect are Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes, both of which hold no-movement clauses in their contracts. Everyone else is fair game. The Flyers catch a break as some of their young forwards, Joel Farabee, Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison and Morgan Frost are all exempt as first and second year professionals.
The two routes of protection boil down to 7-3-1 and 8-1, meaning seven forwards, three defenseman and one goaltender, or eight skaters of any position and one goaltender. Both options have unique advantages and disadvantages.
This is the probable route the team will take as it will cover all their bases. Protecting seven forwards would keep all players of value they currently have and there’s really only three defenseman that it makes sense to keep. Which players they pick depends on their mindset heading into the expansion. If their plan is to leave as many cap dollars available as possible, this becomes the even easier option. They could protect-
Giroux, Hayes, Couturier, Konency, Lindblom, Laughton, and one of Patrick or Aube-Kubel
Provorov, Sanheim, Myers
That would leave the contracts of Voracek, Van Riemsdyk and Gostisbehere exposed to Seattle. That’s just shy of $20 million in combined cap open for the taking. Would Seattle take any of those contracts without incentive to do so? Probably not, but that’s where Fletcher would need to step in and swing a deal. Their best hope would be to lose one of Voracek or JVR and use that newly freed cap to add a player elsewhere in the lineup.
Now, there’s another way they could approach the 7-3-1 scheme and that would be keeping their core of players together and leaving higher-end depth guys for Seattle to choose from. That’d look like-
Giroux, Hayes, Couturier, Konecny, Voracek, Van Riemsdyk, and newly signed Laughton
Provorov, Sanheim, Myers
That would leave Lindblom, Aube-Kubel and Patrick exposed and keep the entirety of the old guard here to stay. It wouldn’t be the smartest approach for a franchise in a desperate need of a shakeup, which means don’t be surprised of this is the route they take.
This would’ve been a far more intriguing option if the Flyers were buyers at the deadline and added a defenseman or two to the roster. Though it could still be an option if they, for whatever reason, plan on keeping their defense intact.
Realistically speaking, there are only four forwards worth protecting, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny. Everyone else should be exposed contract wise (JVR and Voracek) or is a depth luxury (Laughton and Lindblom) that won’t break the team if they get selected. That would leave four spots open on the blue line to protect Provorov, Sanheim, Myers and Gostisbehere.
Given the organization doesn’t seem to have Ghost in its good graces lately, it seems unlikely they’d go out of their way to protect him. That being said, his play has improved drastically this season compared to the previous few years, and with the rest of the defense underperforming, they could see the value Ghost brings to the table as an asset for the future.
Which type of protection plan best fits the Flyers? They’re probably going down the 7-3-1 path, it just comes down to who they end up protecting. Exposing Voracek seems like the smart financial thing to do, but he feels so woven into the fabric of this team right now that it just won’t happen. Do they Flyers lose someone like Aube-Kubel and count their lucky stars they didn’t lose someone of consequence or does Fletcher wheel and deal and shed a big contract and give the team a much needed shakeup? Either feels like a legitimate possibility right now, so all we can do is sit back and wait for Fletcher to lay his cards on the table and see what he has up his sleeve when July 21 rolls around.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: capfriendly.com