Ahead of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft and Entry Draft, Brent Flahr and Chuck Fletcher discussed the Philadelphia Flyers offseason plan.
For almost a year, many different fanbases predicted what their team could look like after the expansion. Additionally, everyone has given their takes on potential trade targets and free-agent acquisitions. Today, there’s some clarity from Fletcher and Flahr regarding the Flyers offseason plans.
This season was a miserable one. Fletcher, in a word, described it as “unacceptable.” Philadelphia isn’t in a complete rebuild, but an adamant retooling stage is accurate. Thirst cannot overwhelm the front office. Reputable but intelligent splashes are required before the team takes to the ice in 2021-2022.
Baby steps are required to get back to the expectations set in 2019-2020. The Flyers could be a playoff team next season, but it’s worth understanding they won’t likely be a contender.
2021 NHL Expansion Draft
As we suspected, the Philadelphia Flyers protection list is “straightforward.” Most teams will want to wait to see what their lineups look like before dealing trades. Expect heavy trading to take place after the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. The Seattle Kraken will have first dibs on targets because of protection bribery, but that doesn’t overly concern Chuck Fletcher. He may allow the Kraken to select an unprotected player without strings attached.
Fletcher had conversations with Ron Francis already, as expected. It is not a lock that Jakub Voracek goes to the Kraken. A draft deal would likely include Voracek, but many other options are still relevant. If Fletcher doesn’t strike a deal with Francis, then Seattle could potentially swipe Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Nolan Patrick, Shayne Gostisbehere, or Robert Hagg at a comparably smaller cap hit.
Ideally, Fletcher is working on the phone with Francis to send Voracek. His $8.25mil price tag needs to be alleviated if the Flyers expect to afford a vital trade this offseason. Many of the targeted right-handed defensemen require Voracek off the books for negotiation’s sake.
During the press conference, Fletcher mentioned not notifying the locker room about who is protected or exposed. In the same breath, the protection list is “straightforward.”
Keep an eye on Voracek, as he’ll be the catalyst to the next decision Philadelphia makes this offseason.
2021 NHL Entry Draft
Brent Flahr and Chuck Fletcher come from two different schools of thought regarding the first-round pick of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Flahr is the head of scouting, and Fletcher is a deal maker. Though they have two different philosophies, it doesn’t mean that they won’t find a mutual agreement regarding what to do. Currently, it sounds like the first-round pick is on the market.
Due to the flat cap, Fletcher must be more willing to move the first-round pick for a top pair, right defenseman. Offloading a big contract or swaying a team to trade a pivotal talent requires draft capital in return. Following negotiations with Seth Jones fading and the protection of Matt Dumba by the Minnesota Wild, Fletcher is prime to select a defensive defenseman candidate to match with Ivan Provorov.
Flahr wants to keep the first-round pick. When the Philadelphia Flyers are on the clock, they’ll consider who’s available on the board before deciding to use or trade it.
Trading the first-round pick could be the most valuable asset in acquiring the right player for the Flyers’ defense.
Draft Class Assessment
About the draft class, Brent Flahr stated that the draft class doesn’t have “generational players” but “good quality and depth.” That’s debatable, but Flahr is the head of scouting and has a better feel than most others criticizing his judgment. If there is only “good quality and depth” talent in this draft class, why is Flahr stuck on maintaining the first-round pick?
Some of the defensemen and fewer forwards in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will grow into vital roles. Defensively, this class is deep along the blue line. Draft classes that aren’t deep have at least one generational talent within. Flahr could be underestimating the talent ahead, especially in a defense-heavy draft that could help retool the franchise.
Based on what was said today, that first-round pick should find itself into a trade package. Chuck Fletcher is already willing to move that pick, and Flahr seems to undervalue the talent available.
Cam York is a defenseman the Philadelphia Flyers could build around on defense. With Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim on the left side with York, the right deserves additional care. All signs point to trading the first-round pick for a top pair, right defenseman. The only caveat stems from the idea that a goaltender is an option in the first round. Without many options to rotate behind Carter Hart, Sebastian Cossa in the first round makes sense.
While Cossa would be a solid choice in the first round, the Flyers would be better off with Mattias Ekholm or the like.
Staff Changes Inbound
We all knew Ian Laperriere wasn’t the only change the Lehigh Valley Phantoms would receive after Scott Gordon and Kerry Huffman left.
Over the last couple of months, the Philadelphia Flyers have communicated and made decisions to further the Alain Vigneault and Chuck Fletcher regime. It’s paramount that the AHL and NHL systems align with one another for the prospects to develop their full potential. Laperriere was the first piece to the project, formerly occupying the bench with Vigneault.
Last season left a bitter taste in the mouth of anyone who associates with the Flyers. According to Fletcher, many offseason changes recalibrated the organization’s philosophy following an “unacceptable” season.
The Philadelphia Flyers will work to extend Travis Sanheim and Carter Hart. With $13mil of cap space available, between $6.5-$7mil may be the price of just those two. It’s business as usual for a franchise that wants to keep two crucial elements to the team.
Nolan Patrick makes this conversation a little complicated. Throughout the offseason, the narrative set to Patrick potentially wanting a change of scenery. A new agent likely meant a reset. Today, he was named a player of interest for the Flyers. He could remain in Philadelphia.
Partly, it isn’t surprising to hear that. Everyone omits potential, which doesn’t drive value in negotiations. The entire league could be sleeping on Patrick. That’s fine because if he does rebound, the Flyers accept with open arms.
Chuck Fletcher did not comment if any discussions took place with Brian Elliott, Samuel Morin, or Alex Lyon.
Photo By: Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon Sportswire