The Philadelphia Flyers have more than a few decisions to make this offseason. It all starts with their protected list for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft next month.
The Flyers have the choice to protect 11 total players (seven forwards, three defensemen, one goalie) or nine total players with more flexibility (eight skaters, one goalie).
As things stand now, the Flyers will almost certainly go with the more conventional 7/3/1 protection. That is seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie.
Moving backward, Carter Hart is the obvious choice at goalie. The Flyers will expose the recently-signed Felix Sandstrom.
On defense, the Flyers only really have three defensemen worth protecting. Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Philippe Myers should be the future of the Flyers defense. Shayne Gostisbehere is the only defenseman that the Kraken may take from the Flyers.
That brings us to the forwards. This is where it gets interesting.
Flyers Expansion Draft: Forwards
Locks to be protected
The Flyers have a handful of forwards that will undoubtedly be protected in the expansion draft.
First and foremost, the Flyers will be protecting their captain.
Claude Giroux has a full no-movement clause and isn’t in jeopardy of being exposed.
Like Giroux, Kevin Hayes also has a no-movement clause. He’ll be safe from being exposed in the expansion draft.
Sean Couturier does not have a no-movement clause, but he’s about as untouchable as you can get.
He is the Flyers’ most important forward. I don’t think there’s any debate about protecting Couturier.
Despite an up-and-down season, Travis Konecny is still the future of the Flyers.
Seattle would select Konecny in a heartbeat –– as would any other team ––, so he’ll be protected by the Flyers.
Laughton doesn’t fit the mold of the other four players here. However, Chuck Fletcher said back in April that Laughton will be protected.
We’ll see if that holds up. For now, we’ll keep him as a lock to be protected.
Likely to be protected
After those four forwards above, there are some questions about who might be protected with the final three slots.
CapFriendly’s “quick protect” feature has the Flyers protecting Giroux, Hayes, Couturier, and Konecny above. After that, they have Jakub Voracek, Oskar Lindblom, and Nolan Patrick as the final three protected players. That leaves James van Riemsdyk, Scott Laughton, and Nicolas-Aube Kubel as the notable forwards exposed.
That’s not a perfect projection, but Flyers will likely protect a few of those players.
Oskar Lindblom is a promising young player even after battling cancer. He showed flashes of his game this season and will hopefully be back to 100% by September.
Unless the Flyers and Kraken have a handshake deal, which we’re not factoring in to this projection, Lindblom should be protected.
Say what you will about Nolan Patrick, but the Flyers shouldn’t give up on a No. 2 overall pick for nothing in return. He’s dealt with injuries and may have requested a fresh start elsewhere, but the Flyers are invested in Patrick.
Patrick’s value is already pretty low, but a fresh start in Seattle might be just what Patrick needs. The Flyers can’t lose him for nothing.
Likely to be exposed
By my projections, the Flyers will protect Giroux, Hayes, Couturier, Konecny, Laughton, Lindblom, and Patrick. That means that Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel are the three notable players left exposed.
The Flyers need some wiggle room with the salary cap this summer. Losing Voracek or van Riemsdyk would hurt the Flyers’ offense, but it will provide them with much-needed cap relief to go out and add a top-four defenseman or two.
Voracek and van Riemsdyk were tied for the team lead in points with Giroux at 43 each. It was a good thing to see from JVR, who struggled the year prior –– especially in the playoffs.
Exposing Voracek could ruffle some feathers if he’s not taken by Seattle, but it might be a necessary move for Fletcher and the Flyers. The 31-year-old forward has an $8.25 million cap hit through the 2023-24 season. JVR has a $7 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season.
Aube-Kubel is a bit of a wild card. He broke out in the 2019-20 season with 15 points in 36 games, including 10 points in 13 games from February 8th to March 5th. But he had just 12 points in 50 games this past season. On top of that, he had discipline problems. Aube-Kubel took 15 minor penalties and drew 10 this season after taking six and drawing nine the year prior.
Seeing how depth forwards thrived in Vegas with the Golden Knights, Seattle could take a crack at that with Aube-Kubel.
The Flyers could also keep all three of Voracek, van Riemsdyk, and Aube-Kubel
Flyers Expansion Draft: Projected protected and exposed
In summation, here is the current projection for the Flyers’ protected list and notable exposed players.
Projected protected list: Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton, Nolan Patrick, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Carter Hart
Projected notable exposed players: Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Shayne Gostisbehere
Photo: Heather Barry Images