With the NHL Expansion Draft now just a few heartbeats away, the deadline for protection lists is upon us. One by one, teams are submitting their slips with a look up to the heavens, hoping that some of the players they’ve had no choice to expose will remain on the roster once the Kraken have made their decisions. Here’s a closer look at who the Philadelphia Flyers protected, and who they didn’t.
The Philadelphia Flyers went with a 7-3-1 strategy.
Forwards: Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes, Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier, Nicholas Aube-Kubel, and Oskar Lindblom
Defensemen: Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Ivan Provorov, Ryan Ellis
Goalies: Carter Hart
There aren’t really too many surprises here. Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes have no-movement clauses in their contracts so were always going to be protected.
Sean Couturier is arguably invaluable to the team at this point and if Travis Konecny can rebound from a disappointing 2020 campaign, then his ceiling is still incredibly high.
When Scott Laughton signed his 5yr/$3mil extension, he all but guaranteed himself to be a part of the team’s mid-term plans and again, was never really in danger of being exposed.
Oskar Lindblom not only has a friendly contract, but is only 24-years-old and after overcoming Ewings Sarcoma, has battled back to really show just how high he can really fly in the future. He has a higher upside then Aube-Kubel, but his physicality was one of the very few bright spots experienced by the team last year, so keeping him around makes a lot of sense.
On defense, there weren’t many options to pick from. Ryan Ellis was acquired just yesterday and will join Provorov on the top-line. Travis Sanheim had a solid year and isn’t burdened with a hefty contract like Gostisbehere, which leads us very nicely to those who were exposed.
Fans had been preparing for Jake Voracek’s departure ever since Elliotte Friedman’s report not too long ago. He finds himself exposed, as predicted, and if he isn’t selected, the team will explore other options. His $8.25M AAV over the next three years almost puts the writing on the wall for him, despite his value to the team. It will be weird to think of a Flyers team without the Czech star pacing the wing, especially after a ten-year run that saw him experience so many highs and lows, becoming a mainstay in the process.
James van Riemsdyk was another player who many assumed would end up being exposed due to contractual reasons. A $7M AAV over the next two years see the veteran with his back to the wall when it comes to playing to a level that justifies the price tag. He was one of the very few players to consistently shine in 2020 and he proved a lot of people wrong. But the man who was once drafted by the Flyers in the first-round could once again be preparing to say goodbye to the City of Brotherly Love.
The last of the contractual heavy hitters here is Shayne Gostisbehere. He only averages $4.5M AAV which is nearly half of what the former players are earning, but his play has been consistently inconsistent and with Gustafsson unable to patch the holes in Ghost’s game last year, it only further highlighted them.
Did Chuck do the right thing?
Chuck Fletcher has been smart here. He’s essentially forcing the Kraken to lift some much needed cap weight from his team’s shoulders. If they don’t, the team lose out on either Robert Hagg or Justin Braun. In a worst-case scenario, the team lose one of these two defensemen, with Hagg arguably having the higher upside of the two. But by focusing on long-term salary implications, Fletcher has opted to make sure he has the long-term future of the team at heart, playing it safe and preparing carefully so that when the Kraken come knocking, there’s a blueprint in place to build up what was just broken.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre