The Seattle Kraken expansion draft is finally on the horizon and who ends up packing their bags is on the forefront of every fans’ mind across the league. For the Flyers, they’re set up pretty nicely in terms of being able to protect everyone they want to. Though, as the first stop in a critically important offseason, all eyes will be on Chuck Fletcher to see if he’ll work some magic to clear some big money and go hard later in the summer, or whether he’ll stand his ground and let Seattle pick the bones of the unprotected players list, then count his blessings he didn’t lose anyone substantial. They are two very different routes that will send shockwaves through the rest of the offseason, one way or another.
So which Flyers are most likely destined for the Kraken?
Number 5: Nicholas Aube-Kubel
The juxtaposition of Nicholas Aube-Kubel’s first and second NHL seasons could not have been more vivid. A speedy bottom-six forward who can score with a bit of a mean streak turned into a slow, messy, reckless penalty taker. He’s signed for one more year and will undoubtedly be left exposed. With the Flyers already having their bases covered from a protection perspective, if Fletcher chooses to sit on his hands and let Seattle pick from the list of exposed players, NAK may be the most enticing cheap option at forward.
Number 4: Justin Braun
Justin Braun was an incredibly effective player for the Flyers defense this season, but played well above his head on the top pair. He’s still a solid veteran option that could intrigue a newly formed team that could be looking for a locker room leader. Just like NAK, if the Flyers aren’t proactive and Ron Francis opts to take the best cheap player available, Justin Braun is their guy on the blue line.
Number 3: Jake Voracek
The name of the game at the expansion draft should be clear as much cap space as possible, and there’s no better place to start than Jake Voracek. With a whopping $8.25 million for three more seasons, Voracek’s deal is pretty ugly. That being said, he is still one of the top guys on the team in terms of offensive production, which complicates the idea of washing their hands of him in July. A few weeks back, we looked at the pros and cons of Voracek going to Seattle, and even though letting that kind of offensive production walk, it may provide guys like Wade Allison, Joel Farabee and Travis Konecny with bigger roles on the team, which may be the better play in the long run. Voracek is an interesting name to watch in the expansion scene and it shouldn’t be a surprise either way whether he stays or goes.
Number 2: James Van Riemsdyk
Speaking of ditching bad contracts, JVR and his $7 million for two more years is a bit of an easier pill to swallow. Even though his contract is a year less, his production is also a tick below Voracek’s as well, which is where the interesting wrench gets thrown in. If they had a choice, do you send Voracek to Seattle, losing the better, but more expensive player, or do you deal Van Riemsdyk who is a bit cheaper but the slightly worse player? Luckily. JVR boosted his value with a decent 2021 season, so maybe he becomes a more enticing option for the Kraken and they won’t demand too much to eat that contract.
Number 1: Shayne Gostisbehere
Ghost was one of the many veteran players to have a bounce back season for the Flyers, but he still faced an uphill battle as he found himself as the odd man out for one reason or another most of the season. He recorded 9 goals and 20 points in 41 games this season, which would’ve equated to one of the best seasons of his career over a full 82-game campaign. Even with the improved stat line, his role on the club was still at a minimal and found him scratched all together during parts of the season. His improved play makes his contract, $4.5 mil for two more seasons, look a little more manageable. For whatever reason, he’e been in the doghouse in Philly for years now, so maybe the best chance for a renaissance of the Ghost Bear would be a fresh start on a new team across the country.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: clickondetroit.com / tsn.ca