Tomorrow, the Philadelphia Flyers must lock in their 2021 NHL Expansion Draft protection list.
Dating back to before the 2020-2021 season started, we’ve all tinkered with the roster. Who will be protected? What notable players will the Flyers risk losing? What Seattle Kraken jersey do I need to get once someone relocates from the City of Brotherly Love to the Emerald City?
Expansion plans and priorities were made clear by Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr. Well, kind of. What we do understand is Philadelphia’s emphasis on moving heavy contracts. What we can’t put our finger on is the future of Jakub Voracek in particular. Is Fletcher serious about striking a deal with Ron Francis to take Voracek?
What about the future of Nolan Patrick? Will he be protected though he’s a restricted free agent?
Before the official lists are released tomorrow, let’s place predictions one more time. Are Fletcher and Flahr ready for the Kraken? Critical implications on the 2021 offseason ride on how the expansion draft affects the Flyers.
Final Flyers Protection Predictions
Earlier today, Sam Carchidi tweeted his prediction for the Philadelphia Flyers protection list:
Forwards: Claude Giroux (NMC), Kevin Hayes (NMC), Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier, Nolan Patrick, and Oskar Lindblom
Defense: Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers
Goaltender: Carter Hart
Carchidi is on point with his assessment. Let’s dive into why I agree with his protection predictions.
Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes have no-movement clauses in their contracts. Those two, far and away, were definite locks because neither was waiving those.
Sean Couturier is untouchable within the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Travis Konecny is another protection list lock. Both are locks for protection, just without a no-movement clause in their contracts.
When Scott Laughton signed his 5yr/$3mil extension, he became a part of the Flyers protection plans. He was one of a few bright spots in the lineup during 2020-2021. Laughton and Couturier have similar playing styles. This extension came at the correct time from Fletcher.
Oskar Lindblom doesn’t have a bad contract and is superior to Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
Nolan Patrick is the seventh man. Fletcher is aggressively trying to alleviate bad contracts. That puts Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk on the exposed list with Aube-Kubel. To afford the right players this offseason, Fletcher needs to aim to send Voracek, even if it means sending Aube-Kubel to the Seattle Kraken with him. That’s the angle Philadelphia is assuming at the forward position.
Since expansion discussion began, the Philadelphia Flyers decided to protect Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Philippe Myers.
Shayne Gostisbehere remains an interesting case. He showed sparks in 2020-2021. It’s been since Dave Hakstol was the Flyers head coach when Gostisbehere was exciting the fanbase.
Arguably, Gostisbehere makes a case based on performance that he should be protected, not Myers. He’s making more than his performance commands, however. Sure, Philadelphia is best when Gostisbehere is quarterbacking the powerplay. Chuck Fletcher’s plan to rid less than favorable contracts excludes Gostisbehere from protection.
Available is Robert Hagg. If Seattle Kraken specifically doesn’t want to help the Flyers cap scenario ahead of this offseason, they’ll gladly take Hagg.
Aside from players on no-movement clauses, Carter Hart was the undisputed guarantee for Philadelphia Flyers protection.
Ahead of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr are wise to consider taking a goaltender in the first round. Sebastian Cossa won’t make it out of the first round, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be on the board at the thirteenth overall pick. Cossa is a risk; so are most draft rookies.
If Cossa isn’t on the board, Fletcher has rare leverage in trading with the Arizona Coyotes at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft for Darcy Kuemper. Luring Kuemper to the Flyers to tandem with Hart could be incredible.
What Did Fletcher Tells Us About His Flyers Plans?
Following the analysis and further breakdown of a potential protection list from the Philadelphia Flyers, Chuck Fletcher was honest in his assessment that it is “straightforward.”
That doesn’t explain the plan. The Flyers’ approach seems to be anything but “straightforward.” Fletcher could let the Seattle Kraken select a player without any strings attached.
In doing so, he allows Ron Francis to select Nicolas Aube-Kubel or Robert Hagg, which alleviates a maximum of $1.6M. Remember, Francis is looking for draft capital located in the first three rounds for a trade that acts as an additional protection slot.
Jakub Voracek and the 2021 third-round pick could send him to the Kraken. A philosophy in moving big contracts followed by scheduling protection lists around that idea means there’s an urgency to move Voracek. It’s not a trade that is awful for Seattle. Voracek played his career-best under Hakstol.
The 2021 offseason will begin with a bang, regardless of who the Kraken decide to poach. Fletcher must actively affect Francis’ decision, drawing away from Hagg, Aube-Kubel, or even Shayne Gostisbehere. He must dictate the pace of Philadelphia’s offseason, not Francis. Following an awful 2020-2021 campaign, the Flyers need to be aggressive in their pursuit. Effectively, this is the first battle between Philadelphia and Seattle in the NHL.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre