It’s that time of year again! We’re talking expansion draft in the NHL, and this time, Seattle seems to be the spot that is going to end up with a franchise. I know we’re all excited to lose another player, that player remains to be seen, but I’m here to tell you what to expect when the expansion draft happens, maybe as soon as this coming up offseason.
So what are the rules? It seems to me that the rules will be similar to those of when the Vegas Golden Knights became a franchise: The expansion team will choose a player from each team, Vegas being the only question mark seeing as they are one year into their existence. First and second year players will be exempt from being chosen by the presumed Seattle club. Players with any type of no movement clause will be required to be protected by their team. Each team has two options when it comes to protecting certain players. They can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie, or they can protect eight skaters and one goalie.
As far as the Flyers are concerned, this expansion draft shouldn’t hit them too hard. With a few players that most fans wouldn’t mind seeing donning another uniform, and the players that fans would despise seeing in another uniform, the decision seems to be a simple one. The Flyers will most likely go the route they did last year, and choose seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie to protect. However, this time around, the “eight skaters, one goalie” route may make more sense for the club.
Flyers players that are exempt from the expansion draft include names such as Nolan Patrick, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Travis Sanheim. There are more, but those are the key names. Players that have no movement clauses that will need to be protected include Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Valtteri Filppula. There’s the first three that you can expect to be protected. Yes, deals can and most likely will be made before the impending expansion, but right now, those players are protected, and rightfully so. Giroux is your franchise guy right now, and captain. Simmonds is a key cog in the Flyers system right now, and they would likely not like to see him go without getting anything substantial in return. Filppula is a role player, but is good at what he does as well, so they likely won’t want to lose him for the same reason as Simmonds.
The other four forwards the Flyers will likely protect include Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier, Jordan Weal, and Michael Raffl. Raffl was the last forward I chose, but look at who else the Flyers have to protect. They have Jori Lehtera, Dale Weis, Colin McDonald, and Scott Laughton. Lehtera and Weis are no-brainers. They don’t need to be protected because the Flyers wouldn’t miss their production anyway. Colin McDonald would be missed as the captain of the Phantoms, but he is an aging, AHL level guy that the Flyers could replace if need be. Scott Laughton is tough because at one time, he was regarded as the Flyers’ top prospect in a depleted pool. Now that Hextall has worked his magic and stocked that pool back up, Laughton becomes somewhat expendable.
Protecting defensemen is tough because there are two a few defensemen within the system that don’t need protected. It gets tricky down the line because players like Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, and Shayne Gostisbehere now need protected. Even though Hagg is a rookie in the NHL, he has spent a few years with the Phantoms, which makes him eligible for the draft. This will be the most difficult part in the process. Hextall will likely tag MacDonald as exempt because of the success he is having along side Ivan Provorov (and by success, I mean the fact that Provy plays well opposite of MacDonald.) Gostisbehere is a given as well, and you would have to think that, despite what Hakstol’s decisions may have indicated, Samuel Morin gets the other protected spot. Morin is likely the one to lose that spot if someone becomes more valuable of an asset and is worth protecting.
Goalies is another touchy subject. Last year, the Flyers went the route of protecting Phantoms starter Anthony Stolarz. This year, Stolie is out with another injury, and going by how frustrated the club seems to be with the injuries Neuvirth has sustained while with the Flyers, Hextall may decide to protect another netminder. As of now, Brian Elliott seems to be the one goalie worth protecting, with Alex Lyon coming in a close second. Lyon is currently serving as Elliott’s backup in the NHL, but has proven in Stolarz’ absence that he can carry the load for the Phantoms.
Expansion drafts suck. Just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins. They had two great goalies, and it was all but a certainty that one of them fled the coop for the Golden Knights. Sure enough, Marc-Andre Fleury heard his name called and ended up on the west coast. The Flyers face a situation somewhat similar in choosing to protect established veteran Brian Elliott, or promising youngster Anthony Stolarz. Time will tell what Hextall decides to do with this conundrum.
After weighing the options that this potential expansion draft proposes, it seems that Radko Gudas, or Scott Laughton will be likely candidates to be chosen by the expansion franchise. Gudas would be ideal based solely on the fact that the Flyers have a ton of talent along the blue line, and many will be ready to thrive by this time next year. Gudas’ departure would hurt less than Scott Laughton’s Laughton has proved to be a more than capable fourth line center this year. He is capable of plugging in on higher lines as well.
Expansion drafts suck, and this one may hurt more than the last. However, seeing that this next franchise could put the league at 32 teams, which is an ideal amount of teams (see NFL), it makes sense. It’ll make for a fair and equal chance at making the playoffs, regardless of the conference you play in. In this day and age, its all about what’s fair, isn’t it? Anyways, this expects to be the last expansion draft in the NHL, at least for awhile, and hopefully the last time the Flyers lose a player and get absolutely nothing in return.
Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports