Expansion Plan: Three Free Agents to Replace Flyers Aube-Kubel

NHL: APR 29 Panthers at Blackhawks
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 29: Chicago Blackhawks left wing Vinnie Hinostroza (28) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in action during a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 29, 2021 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

If the Seattle Kraken select Nicolas Aube-Kubel in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers could replace with these three UFAs.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel is a young, inexpensive bottom-six winger that can help jumpstart the Seattle Kraken franchise.

Ron Francis helped navigate previous franchise rebuilds. Selecting one player from thirty NHL franchises should be a cinch. The Kraken scouting team is already scorching through potential players available in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

Seattle may only see value in the Philadelphia Flyers forwards. Following this season, no one could blame Francis if he likely steers away from the defense. Measuring potential and talent with the impact against the salary cap in a flat era means Francis will focus on players who maximize production on a bargain. Next season, Aube-Kubel makes $1.075mil. The energy he brings to a lineup at that cost already makes him a valuable asset.

On the fourth line, the Flyers need a physical, two-hundred-foot player to win puck battles. Aube-Kubel can be that, and the Kraken recognize it. When Philadelphia has a flat period, Aube-Kubel gets the blood pumping for his linemates. Unfortunately., he is prone to take untimely penalties.

For the same financial value, the Flyers have options to replace Aube-Kubel if Francis selects him. Consider these three safety net free agents for 2021-2022:

Wayne Simmonds

The idea of the Philadelphia Flyers reuniting with Wayne Simmonds makes the hairs on my neck stand.

He has everything the Flyers need. Every fan would welcome him with a standing ovation if he returned to the Wells Fargo Center. His work on the fourth line with the Toronto Maple Leafs replicates what Philadelphia desires. Simmonds brings a familiar physical style to the Flyers lineup, which Alain Vigneault openly needs.

Simmonds received $1.5mil with the Maple Leafs. His nine points in 38 games include seven goals. Chuck Fletcher could sign him for less than $1.5mil in 2021-2022.

Philadelphia needs a scrappy forward who can score. Simmonds will make opponents pay for crashing the crease against Carter Hart. He’s an upgrade during even-strength hockey if the Seattle Kraken do walk away with Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Additionally, Simmonds helps the powerplay. The Flyers ranked 17th in the league on the powerplay (19.2%,) which didn’t alleviate an already underachieving special team.

Colton Sceviour

Another possible fit comes from the in-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Ironically, the Philadelphia Flyers could replace Nicolas Aube-Kubel with a player from a team managed by Ron Hextall.

Colton Sceviour could sign an inexpensive, flexible contract with the Flyers. A two-way contract in Philadelphia for nickels on Aube-Kubel’s current deal makes Sceviour a viable option. He’s primarily a fourth-line player at the NHL level but lacks the physicality Aube-Kubel brings. He balances his playing style with a disciplined style of play. Following a season with the 30th ranked penalty kill, the Flyers need players who don’t put the team at a disadvantage.

Sceviour on a two-way contract keeps an available space for a recall from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Chuck Fletcher could decide he wants to test Linus Sandin or Pascal Laberge. Both could make their Philadelphia debut in 2021-2022 if Fletcher finesses a two-way contract with Sceviour. Salary cap flexibility is the name of the game, especially when the cap is flat.

What we do know is that Sceviour is an upgrade over Maxim Sushko and David Kase.

Vinnie Hinostroza

Preferably, of the players noted in this article, Vinnie Hinostroza fits best if Wayne Simmonds is not an option. He’s also the youngest player we’ll discuss.

Hinostroza experienced an increase in ice time after he moved from the Florida Panthers to the Chicago Blackhawks. With more time to showcase his talent, he flourished. If the Blackhawks don’t extend Hinostroza, Chuck Fletcher should expect to pay more than $1mil. He could have paced to score nearly 25 points in 2020-2021. That lands a bottom-six role with the Philadelphia Flyers, flipping between the third and fourth lines.

Finishing April with a four-game point streak, Hinostroza creates scoring chances after his team wins puck battles. Nicolas Aube-Kubel was great at using his body as a battering ram in the forecheck, but the Flyers struggled to finish after regaining possession. With Hinostroza, Philadelphia adds a balanced forward on the fourth line.

A fan favorite with the Flyers, Aube-Kubel to the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft doesn’t hurt Philadelphia.

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire