With the NHL Expansion Draft scheduled for Saturday June 20, 2017, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will have his work cut out for him early in the off season. Each team will have two options for protecting forwards:
1. Seven forwards, three defenseman, and one goaltender
2. Eight skaters (forwards/defenseman), and one goaltender
According to NHL.com, all first and second year professionals will be exempt from selection. Each team must expose two forwards who are under contract for the 2017-18 season.
Las Vegas must select 14 forwards who have played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season, or 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons combined.
This final segment will focus on seven forwards that Hextall will most likely protect. The first option as stated above is a better option for the Flyers because you can protect more skaters.
1. Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux was born January 12, 1988. The Flyers selected Giroux 22nd overall in the 2006 NHL Draft.
At age 19, Giroux made his debut with the Flyers in February 2008. He was able to join the roster full-time midway through the 2008-09 season.
In his first full season, he amassed 27 points in 42 games played. In the 2009-10 season, Giroux spent a lot of time centering James Van Riemsdyk. He had a great season garnering 16 goals, and 31 assists for a total 47 points in 82 games played.
The Flyers qualified for the 2010 playoffs on Giroux’s game winner in a shootout against the New York Rangers. This was the season of history as the Flyers came back from a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins, and managed to win the next four games to reach the Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers won that series in 5 games en route to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. They lost the Stanley Cup in six games, but Giroux finished the playoffs with 21 points.
The former Gatineau product, was the Flyers top point scorer in 2010-11, and 2011-12 garnering 53 goals, 116 assists for a total of 169 points. For his accomplishments, Giroux was named captain of the Flyers to start the 2012-13 season.
For his career, Giroux has amassed 166 goals, 351 assists, for a total of 517 points in 574 games played. He is the catalyst of the Flyers offense. As Giroux goes the Flyers go. With his filthy shootout moves, Hextall will make sure he’s protected.
2. Jakub Voracek
Jakub Voracek was born on August 15, 1989. The Columbus Blue Jackets selected Voracek 7th overall in the 2007 NHL Draft.
At age 19, Voracek made his NHL debut on October 10, 2008, against the Dallas Stars. He scored his first career NHL goal that game against Marty Turco. He went on to tally 9 goals, and 29 assists for a total of 38 points in his rookie season.
Voracek helped the Blue Jackets make the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in their franchise history in 2009. He tallied one goal during their playoff run that ended in the first round.
On June 23, 2011, Voracek was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. In his Flyers debut against the Boston Bruins, he tallied one goal against goaltender Tim Thomas.
In the 2011-12 season, Voracek tallied a career high 18 goals. On July 26, 2012, the Flyers rewarded him with his play, agreeing to a four-year extension for 17 million dollars.
During the 2014-15 season, Voracek was named to his first All Star game in Ohio. He tied Mario Lemieux’s record for most points in an All Star game, with six points. He finished the season playing alongside Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell on the top line. Voracek finished with a career high 22 goals, and 59 assists for a total of 81 points in 82 games played.
The former Halifax Moosehead product, signed an eight-year contract extension for 66 million dollars in July 2015 to remain with the Flyers.
For his career, he has registered 149 goals, and 323 assists, for a total of 472 points in 657 games played. Voracek is a dynamic player who plays well alongside Giroux. They have become a dynamic duo playing alongside each other. Only Voracek can stop Voracek, and its for these reasons Hextall will make sure he is protected in the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft.
3. Wayne Simmonds
Wayne Simmonds was born on August 26, 1988. The Los Angeles Kings selected Simmonds in the second round of the 2007 NHL Draft.
At age 20, Simmonds was one of three rookies to make the Kings roster in 2008-09. On October 14, 2008, he scored his first career goal against the Anaheim Ducks.
During his rookie season, Simmonds immediately became a fan favorite for his strong work ethic on and off the ice. In the 2009-10 season, he scored 40 points, and led the Kings in +/-.
The former Brockville Brave, was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on June 23, 2011. In his first full season with the Flyers, he amassed 28 goals, and 21 assists for a total of 49 points.
Simmonds immediately became a fan favorite in Philadelphia for his rough style and scoring ability. In the 2013-14 season, he recorded 29 goals, and 31 assists for a total of 60 points.
In the 2015-16 season, he matched the same point total with 32 goals, and 28 assists for a total of 60 points. His 32 goals scored were a career high.
Simmonds has gained a reputation for his physical play. He lead the Flyers with 147 penalty minutes in the 2015-16 season.
The “Wayne Train” Simmonds, represented the Flyers in the 2017 All Star game. He was named MVP of the All Star game, after scoring three goals including the game winner of the final game.
For his career, he has 171 goals, and 173 assists for 344 points in 605 games played. He is a versatile forward that kills penalties, and mans the top power play unit.
Simmonds has become an extraordinary mentor on and off the ice, and he will be protected in the upcoming expansion draft.
4. Brayden Schenn
Brayden Schenn was born on August 22, 1991. The Los Angeles Kings selected Schenn 5th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft.
Schenn made his NHL debut on November 26, 2009, against the Vancouver Canucks. He did not have a point in the game.
On March 3, 2010, he signed a three year contract with the Kings. In the 2010-11 season, he only played in eight games with the Kings registering two assists. He was then sent to the Kings AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs for conditioning purposes.
The Philadelphia Flyers traded for Schenn on June 23, 2011. Schenn made his Flyers debut on October 20, 2011, against the Washington Capitals. He had a -3 rating for the game. Three games later he broke a bone in his foot while blocking a slap shot against the Montreal Canadiens.
On January 2, 2012, he scored his first NHL goal on a rebound against the New York Rangers. Each season Schenn has increased his point total proving to the Flyers brass he belongs.
He had a career year in the 2015-16 season, amassing 26 goals, and 33 assists for 59 points in 80 games played. For his achievements, the Flyers rewarded him with a 4 year-20.5 million dollar contract extension.
For his career, Schenn has scored 84 goals, and 109 assists for a total of 193 points in 354 games played. He leads the league in power play goals scored this year with 12.
At age 25, Schenn continues to grow as he increases his point totals from the prior year each season. Hextall is committed in keeping his young talented crop together, and its for these reasons he will be protected in the upcoming expansion draft.
5. Sean Couturier
Sean Couturier was born on December 7, 1992. The Philadelphia Flyers drafted Couturier 8th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. Couturier signed a three year entry level contract with the Flyers on September 21, 2011.
The former Drummondville product, started the 2011-12 season with the Flyers. He scored his first NHL goal on October 18, 2011, against the Ottawa Senators in a 7-2 win.
During the Flyers opening round playoff series in 2011 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Couturier was tasked with shutting down Evgeni Malkin. He earned a lot of praise for shutting Malkin down. Malkin only registered one point against Couturier’s line.
The young phenom added a hat trick in the third game of the series becoming the second youngest player in NHL history to score a hat trick in a playoff game. He plays against top lines night in and night out. The Flyers rewarded Couturier with a 6 year-26 million dollar extension on July 28, 2015.
At age 24, Couturier plays in all types of situations. He is a reliable penalty killer, and he quarterbacks the 2nd power play unit. For his career, he has registered 56 goals, and 101 assists for 157 points in 350 games played.
“Coots” has been more of a defensive minded center in his young career, but he is gifted offensively. He registered 192 points in back to back seasons in junior hockey. He currently has 9 goals on the season with the Flyers.
The Flyers must be patient with Couturier, as they have given up on these type of players in the past. It has come back to haunt the Flyers too many times. Hextall will protect this young center as he has untapped potential.
6. Nick Cousins
Nick Cousins was born July 20, 1993. The Flyers selected him in the 3rd round of the 2011 NHL Draft.
He made his Flyers debut on March 17, 2015, against the Vancouver Canucks. Cousins played in 11 games that season registering no points.
The former Greyhounds product, has registered 6 goals, and 4 assists for a total of 10 points in 47 games played for the Flyers this season.
Cousins has a ton of potential, and his speed alone is one reason why Hextall will protect him in the upcoming expansion draft.
7. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Pierre Bellemare was born on March 6, 1985. The Flyers signed Bellemare as an undrafted free agent on June 11, 2014.
Bellemare scored his first NHL goal on October 22, 2014, against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is a fast skater, and typically centers the checking line.
At age 31, he has become a versatile player under head coach Dave Hakstol. He is a great penalty killer, playing alongside Chris Vandevelde. In two seasons with the Flyers, he has scored 13 goals, and 13 assists for a total of 26 points in 155 games played. He seems to do the little things well, and for these reasons he will be protected in the upcoming expansion draft.
As stated above, the Flyers must expose two forwards that can possibly be selected in the upcoming expansion draft. Hextall’s vision of his young core coming together is quite evident. If both of these forwards get selected, there is help in the Flyers system to take their place. Follow me on Twitter @JameyBaskow for all Flyers updates.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports