With the NHL Expansion Draft getting closer and closer, this Part 2 of 3 segment will focus on the three defenseman for the Flyers that have a high likelihood of being protected. The expansion draft is slated to take place on Saturday June 20, 2017.
Ron Hextall can only protect three defenseman and this can include some players that play for the AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms. All first and second year professionals are exempt from selection. Players are considered professionals from the date they sign their entry level contracts for their respective teams and are sent to play for their AHL affiliate clubs.
Some defenseman that play for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and are exempt from selection under these current rules are the likes of Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim. Both Morin and Sanheim officially signed their entry level contracts in 2014, but did not start playing for the Phantoms until the 2015-16 season.
The Flyers sent them both for a one year conditioning stint with their respective junior clubs. Both players now fall under the two year professional exemption rule, and do not need to be protected. At the time, Hextall did not know that this NHL Expansion Draft was going to take place, but the situation worked out perfectly. Without further delay, lets take a look at the three players Hextall will more than likely protect.
1. Radko Gudas
Radko Gudas was born on June 5, 1990 in Kladno, Czechoslovakia. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 3rd round of the 2010 NHL Draft. Tampa Bay signed Gudas to a three year entry level contract on August 8, 2010.
Gudas was assigned to the Lightning’s AHL affiliate club the Norfolk Admirals, after their training camp in 2010. He immediately showed his desire to lay big hits on the opposition, and he was involved in 16 fights in his rookie season. In his first full season with the Admirals, Gudas amassed a total of 165 penalty minutes in 76 games played, 4 goals, and 13 assists for a total of 17 points.
In the 2011-12 season for the Admirals, Gudas helped them win 28 consecutive games. The Admirals then went on to win the Calder Cup championship with a four game sweep of the Toronto Marlies.
In the 2012-13 season, Gudas played for the Syracuse Crunch after the Lightning parted ways with the Norfolk Admirals. For the season, Gudas amassed a total of 4 goals, 20 assists for a total of 24 points, and an AHL high +32 rating.
On May 6, 2013, the Lightning signed Gudas to a three year contract extension. In the 2013-14 season, he joined the Lightning as a top four defenseman. He amassed 3 goals, 19 assists for 22 points, and 152 penalty minutes in 78 games played.
Gudas had his season cut short for the 2014-15 season, as he had to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery. On March 2, 2015, he was traded to the Flyers at the trading deadline for Braydon Coburn. The Lightning traded Gudas solely to fill his role on defense following his injury.
The Flyers were diligent in getting Gudas back to full health for the 2015-16 season. He had a great comeback season with the Flyers, as he garnered 5 goals, 9 assists for a total of 14 points, and 116 penalty minutes in 76 games played.
Gudas immediately became a fan favorite in Philadelphia. His rough and tough style was much appreciated by the fans. Asides from his style of play, he was actually a solid reliable defenseman for the Flyers in his first full season with them.
Gudas was the third best defenseman in the NHL at even strength in terms of generating shot attempts, and had a 14.14 corsi rating. His corsi rating was the 3rd best in the league, behind only Brent Burns and Johnny Boychuk.
His strength in the neutral zone and offensive zone, far outweigh the struggles in his own end. Gudas makes the Flyers more efficient offensively when he is on the ice. His numbers for the 2016-17 season are 2 goals, 10 assists for a total of 12 points, in 37 games played.
Gudas is arguably a valuable asset to the Flyers blue line. At age 26, he is a young reliable two way defenseman that has great vision of the ice. He plays the game hard, and delivers bone crushing hits at times. Gudas is a player that Hextall will most likely protect.
2. Shayne Gostisbehere
Shayne Gostisbehere was born August 20, 1993 in Pembroke Pines, Florida. He was selected by the Flyers in the 3rd round of the 2012 NHL Draft. Gostisbehere played college hockey for the Union Dutchmen in the NCAA Division 1 ECAC Hockey conference.
The Dutchmen won the national title in 2014 against the Minnesota Gophers. Gostisbehere received great praise for his three points, and +7 performance in the final game of the series. The Dutchmen lead by Gostisbehere won the final game 7-4.
The Flyers signed Gostisbehere to an entry level contract on April 15, 2014. He suffered a torn ACL that November when he was going to begin playing for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Gostisbehere rehabilitated himself throughout that year, and made quite an impression on the Flyers top brass during the 2015 training camp. He was ultimately sent down to the Phantoms for more seasoning.
Gostisbehere was called up by the Flyers on November 14, 2015. He recorded his first point, an assist, in his first game against the Carolina Hurricanes. In just his second game, he scored his first goal against the Los Angeles Kings. He then followed that up with two overtime winners the next two games.
Gostisbehere became the first Flyers rookie to score multiple overtime winners in a single season. He later added a third overtime goal against the Carolina Hurricanes to finish out the season.
On February 13, 2016, Gostisbehere broke Barry Beck’s point streak record for a rookie defenseman, after he extended his point streak to 11 games against the New Jersey Devils. On February 20, 2016, he extended his point streak to 15 games with his 4th overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Gostisbehere became the first rookie in NHL history to record four overtime goals in a single season. His 15 game point streak came to an end on February 23, 2015, against the Carolina Hurricanes in a Flyers loss.
The sensational rookie was a spark plug the Flyers needed. Before his call up the Flyers were 4-8-3. After his call up they were 9-4-3. He was a major reason why the Flyers made the playoffs last year, and he finished second in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year.
Ghost had an amazing first season with the Flyers. He ended the year with 17 goals, and 29 assists for a total of 46 points in 64 games played. Thus far into the 2016-17 season, he has 4 goals, 16 assists for a total of 20 points, and is a -17 for plus/minus rating.
He continues to learn on a nightly basis, and will only get better in becoming a two way defenseman. For these reasons, Hextall will make sure he is protected in the upcoming expansion draft.
3. Brandon Manning
Brandon Manning was born June 4, 1990 in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Prior to turning professional, Manning played junior hockey in the WHL with the Chilliwack Bruins.
Manning became a reliable two way defenseman with Chilliwack. In only 200 games played, he amassed 45 goals, and 91 assists for a total of 136 points.
On November 23, 2010, the Flyers signed Manning as an undrafted free agent. On March 8, 2012, after playing 32 games for the Adirondack phantoms, he was called up by the Flyers to replace an injured Pavel Kubina. He made his NHL debut against the Florida Panthers. Manning had no points that game, but he gathered NHL experience.
On August 27, 2014, Manning signed a one year contract to stay with the Flyers. For the 2014-15 season, he mostly played for the Adirondack Phantoms. In 60 games played, he garnered 11 goals, and 32 assists for 43 points. Manning also played in 11 games with the Flyers garnering three assists.
Manning came to fame in December of the 2015-16 season, when he hit Edmonton’s forward Connor Mcdavid into the boards. Mcdavid broke his collar bone on the play, and it sidelined him for months. Mcdavid went into the boards awkwardly. Manning went on to have a solid season scoring 1 goal, and 6 assists in 56 games played. He was solid defensively, and that surprised many in the Flyers organization.
On December 8, 2016, the Flyers were playing the Edmonton Oilers, and it was the first time they played each other since Mcdavid was hurt by Manning. Manning and Mcdavid exchanged words near the Flyers bench after Mcdavid scored to put the Oilers up 2-0. Mcdavid did a fist pump celebration in front of the Flyers bench, and Manning let him know it was uncalled for him to do that in that area of the ice. The Flyers went onto win the game 6-5.
After the game Mcdavid stated, “I did all I could do defending him last year. I thought it was one of the most classless things I’ve seen on ice. He admitted he did it on purpose in our exchange.”
Manning was advised of these words by media personnel following Mcdavid’s interview and Manning responded, “Its hockey words. Anyone that knows me knows I respect the game, and leave it all on the ice. I would not intentionally hurt anyone.”
He then showed the Flyers organization and fans that he is fiesty, and knows how to pump up his teammates. The fans went wild over his comments the next few days with some calling Manning a hero.
The Flyers defenseman ended the 2015-16 season with a 10.8% corsi rating being paired with Radko Gudas. He slowly became a steady defenseman last season, and it continued into the 2016-17 season. He was the Flyers best defenseman until December, but the emergence of Ivan Provorov has changed that. Manning is second on the Flyers with a 10.53% corsi rating, meaning its favorable having him on the ice.
Manning has 3 goals, 6 assists for a total of 9 points, on the current season. He has an edge to his game with hits, speed, and stopping rushes that qualifies him to being protected. At age 26, his contract is good through the 2017-18 season. For these reasons, Hextall will more than likely protect Manning.
According to NHL.com, each team must expose one defenseman who is under contract for the 2017-18 season. In addition, he must have played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season or 70 NHL games the prior two seasons combined. There is one defenseman on the Flyers current roster that fits the bill.
5.0 million cap hit runs until the 2019-20 season. The Flyers would love Las Vegas to take him, but with his cap hit its highly unlikely he gets selected.
The Flyers brass and their orange clad fans can only hope Macdonald gets selected in the NHL Expansion Draft. With the likes of Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg, Samuel Morin, and Philippe Myers, the Flyers are loaded with young talent at this position. Hextall has done an amazing job with loading this organization up with young talent for the future. In the coming years his vision will soon payoff. Follow me on Twitter @JameyBaskow for all Flyers updates, and stay tuned for next Mondays final article Part 3: Forwards edition.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports