The Philadelphia Flyers announced their protection list on Sunday via the 7/3/1 method. Chuck Fletcher, aggressively distributing heavy contracts to his exposed list, is attempting to force Ron Francis’ hand at the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
Exposed are James van Riemsdyk, Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Braun, Jakub Voracek, and Robert Hagg. Coming off a stellar season on the powerplay, van Riemsdyk may offer the Seattle Kraken the highest value from the Flyers exposed list. Hagg would be the cheapest option.
Trading Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick for Ryan Ellis is hopefully the beginning of a busy offseason.
Now, the focus is on replacing players. Fletcher made a correct power move in trading for Ellis. His defense to Francis following the expansion will dictate Philadelphia’s offseason. It’s not a guarantee the Flyers receive help from the Kraken in alleviating cap space. That’s okay because Fletcher put his franchise ahead of the curve this offseason.
Who will replace the possible casualties of the expansion draft? Will Fletcher reach out to free agency? Does Philadelphia have the depth to replenish from within the system? Here are some names worth the attention of the Flyers front office:
A Potential Replacement for Gostisbehere or Braun
There are two different answers about who could replace Shayne Gostisbehere or Justin Braun. One could come from within the Philadelphia Flyers system. Another is a flat cap-friendly option whom most recently played for the other Pennsylvania hockey club.
First, let’s begin with the free agent. Cody Ceci is worth the attention following Philippe Myers‘ departure to the Nashville Predators. Currently, Ryan Ellis is the only protected RD of the bunch. Travis Sanheim is a true LD, while Gostisbehere plays both sides of the ice. If the Seattle Kraken chooses Gostisbehere, Ceci is a second pair RD worth $1.25mil with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That’s less than a third of the price of Gostisbehere and still cheaper than Myers.
Wyatte Wylie is the lone RD in the Flyers system currently under contract next season. If Chuck Fletcher looks to replace Gostisbehere, he’ll likely look to free agency where Ceci is available. In the unlikely event that Braun is selected, Wylie could make his NHL debut this season.
A Potential Replacement for Voracek
To earn $8.25mil a season, a player must have a knockout performance. Jakub Voracek did under Dave Hakstol’s reign as the Philadelphia Flyers head coach. His market value could have been considered an overpay in the 2016 offseason. It’s why Chuck Fletcher is making it a priority to offload Voracek’s contract. Voracek hasn’t been worth the $8.25mil price tag since the end of 2018.
Ron Francis is going to want something more to take on Voracek’s contract. The Seattle Kraken is looking for a pick residing between the first and third rounds of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Offloading $8.25mil is a tall task, but a second-round selection could come with Voracek. If the Kraken take Voracek, the Flyers need to comb free agency for a replacement.
Joel Armia could fill in a middle-six role with Wade Allison for less than half of Voracek’s cost.
Recently, Armia made $2.6mil with the Montreal Canadiens. He could receive a raise in Philadelphia, and he would still be a dream fit under the flat cap. Armia consistently forced takeaways with his balanced scoring approach.
He fits what Fletcher wants. Armia is a potential top-six forward who can score and mitigate the team GAA%.
A Potential Replacement for van Riemsdyk
Overall, this is where the Seattle Kraken receives the best value. On the powerplay, James van Riemsdyk was elite last season. Anytime you’re top five in what you do, that’s elite. Only Chris Kreider, TJ Oshie, Joe Pavelski, and Leon Draisaitl scored more powerplay goals than van Riemsdyk last season.
Why is he exposed? It’s all about creating cap space. The Philadelphia Flyers would love to keep a powerplay weapon like van Riemsdyk. They would also like to alleviate $7mil off the books. His performance would be the toughest to replace from a season ago.
Mattias Janmark would be a solid replacement, especially for less than half of what the Flyers paid van Riemsdyk.
Behind Claude Giroux and Joel Farabee, Janmark would be an exceptional addition to the bottom six. Oskar Lindblom would anchor the lineup or potentially switch with Janmark, making Philadelphia deep at LW. He’s another potential suitor who made $2.25 between the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars last season.
A Potential Replacement for Hagg
If Robert Hagg joins the Seattle Kraken, Yegor Zamula will become the seventh defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers.
It wouldn’t make sense to spend any money on an LD, especially after Zamula debuted with the Flyers last season. Nothing would change on defense following a trade for Ryan Ellis. The left side of Philadelphia’s defense is locked in and protected.
Chuck Fletcher could always extend Samuel Morin. He earned a role as a seventh defenseman following last season, especially with his willingness to experiment with Alain Vigneault at LW.
In case Hagg is selected by the Kraken, nothing has to change with the current Flyers defense. Every replacement is a cheap contract between the region of $756k to maybe $1mil. That works for Philadelphia. Though it’s minimal, they save money by promoting from within to replace
Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire