Thursday afternoon was a doozie for fans of the Philadelphia Flyers. As news broke that Seattle had named their first ever head coach, nobody saw what came next. Former bench boss for the Flyers, Dave Hakstol, had been named head coach of the Seattle Kraken.
Dave Hakstol and his new goatee will be commanding the newest NHL franchise. Let that sink in a bit. The same guy who many blamed for the Flyers lack of success from 2015-2019 is now a head coach again. The same guy who was part of a coaching staff that won their division, yet fizzled out after going up 3-1 in the series to Montreal this post-season. That guy is going to be coaching the newest NHL franchise.
Give yourself a break real quick to catch your breath. I’m sure you haven’t laughed this hard in awhile.
Now that all that’s out of the way, it’s time to do what we always do and figure out how this move impacts the Flyers. More than anything, we’re going to see the height of those ramifications when the expansion draft takes place.
If anyone knows this roster, it’s Dave Hakstol. Hakstol saw the incoming of young players like Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, and more. He saw Ron Hextall draft guys like Joel Farabee, Wade Allison, even Nolan Patrick. Yippee. A majority of those names will either be protected or exempt from the expansion draft. However, there are some names that could intrigue Hakstol given his past with the Flyers.
Anyone remember the glue guys? The Brandon Manning’s and the Andrew MacDonald’s that supposedly held this team together during Hakstol’s tenure in Philadelphia? The man has an affinity for underperforming players, defenseman in particular. Lest we forget his fondness for guys like Chris VandeVelde, Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare, Jori Lehtera, and Dale Weise, just to name a few.
There’s a specific type of player that Hakstol took a liking to, and it wasn’t your Claude Giroux‘s or Jakub Voracek‘s. He liked the muckers, the grinders. He had a partiality for the guys who did all the dirty work. In turn, he would reward those players with more minutes than they really should have been playing. Do you for one second think Andrew MacDonald deserved the 19:33 on ice average over the six years he played for the Flyers? Did Jori Lehtera deserve to play 62 games in 2017/18 while Oskar Lindblom only played 23? How about Nicolas Aube-Kubel averaging 5:35 in nine games back in 2018/19 while Corban Knight played 23 games and averaged almost 10 minutes per night?
Just like in the dating world, Hakstol has his type. While that’s all well and good now that he has nothing to do with the Flyers, it could come back to bite them come expansion draft time. How, you ask?
Getting Hak’d Again
Given Hakstol’s apparent favorite type of player, let’s assume that he’ll be looking for that type of player to pluck from the Flyers come July 21st. Given the criteria, the Flyers will likely give Hakstol guys like Aube-Kubel, Robert Hagg, Shayne Gostisbehere, maybe even Scott Laughton to choose from. With names like James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek likely being left unprotected, there are intriguing options out there. However, they come with a large price tag. They would be left unprotected for a reason, but likely won’t be selected for that reason.
Elliotte Friedman mentioned in a tweet earlier this week that Seattle would be looking to spend as little as possible while constructing their roster. That could end up being smoke and mirrors to try and persuade teams to make some deals ahead of the draft. Now that Dave Hakstol is the coach though, the Flyers may need to strike a deal to make sure they can unload a big-time contract.
Hakstol will likely be looking towards some of the bottom-six or bottom-pairing options when it comes to the Flyers. You have some value there that you might not get if you take one of the more lucrative contracts off the Flyers’ hands. Robert Hagg comes at an affordable rate ($1.6mil) as does Nicolas Aube-Kubel ($1.075mil.) Ghost makes $4.5 million, but could be a target depending on who else the Kraken have tabbed with other teams. It all depends on protection lists, which need to be submitted by July 17th.
How Dave Hakstol Could Screw the Flyers
It’s simple. The Flyers have needs. Those needs necessitate clearing cap space. The easiest way to clear cap space is through the expansion draft. Leaving both Voracek and van Riemsdyk exposed has to force Seattle to take one or the other, right?
Given Hakstol’s affinity for those bottom-of-the-lineup types, he knows the Flyers have some quality players that fit the bill. He may look to stock the top of his roster with other teams offerings. Having done that, he could swoop in and take a low-budget option off the Flyers’ hands, leaving them in a tough position entering free agency.
We all know the Flyers have a gigantic hole that they need to fill on the blue line. They also need to solidify the backup goaltender position with someone a bit more sturdy in net than Brian Elliott. Hell, they may even need a second defenseman at this point. While they currently sit at around $13 million in cap space, they won’t be able to fill the gaps with just that amount. Clearing an extra $7 million with JvR or $8.25 million with Voracek would go a long way to helping this roster.
To summarize, if Dave Hakstol wants to be vindictive and hurt the Flyers like he hurt the credibility of this franchise, he would take the cheapest option the Flyers have available. It would not only fill a need that Seattle has, but would inhibit the Flyers from making the necessary moves this offseason to try and get back to being a contender.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre