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Flyers expected to protect James van Riemsdyk after trading Nolan Patrick



James van Riemsdyk (AP photo)

Chuck Fletcher made a savvy trade with the Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon. The Flyers acquired Ryan Ellis for Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick, opening up a spot on their protected list for the Expansion Draft. James van Riemsdyk may be staying in Philadelphia (for now) after all.

James van Riemsdyk was projected as the Flyers player most likely to be selected by the Seattle Kraken. Here’s what we had to say about JVR last month:

“James van Riemsdyk will be one of the best forwards left unprotected for Seattle to select from in the Expansion Draft. He is coming off recording 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 56 games for the underperforming Flyers. In a full 82-game season, that prorates out to nearly 25 goals (24.89) and 38 assists for 63 points.

Since re-joining the Flyers in the 2018 offseason, JVR has 131 points (63 goals, 68 assists) in 188 games –– an average of 27 goals and 29 assists for 56 points per 82 games. Those types of players don’t grow on trees, especially when teams get to protect seven forwards.

The analytics for James van Riemsdyk have also been pretty good as well. He had a Corsi-For Percentage of 52.95 (+2.06 Rel) in the 2019-20 season and 54.84 (+3.87 Rel) last season. It gets even better when you look at Expected Goals-For Percentage with 55.60 (+6.81 Rel) in the 2019-20 season and 53.21 (+3.81 Rel) last season.

Those analytics don’t even factor in his power-play prowess. He scored 10 power-play goals, tied for fifth-most in the league. Any team would be lucky to have JVR on their power play, especially an expansion team.”

JVR seemed like a slam-dunk option for Seattle. He has a reasonable contract for just two more years and would be an immediate impact player. Now, with the Flyers projected to protect him, he could be used as a trade chip or kept as a middle-six winger.

If JVR is in fact protected, that increases the chances of the Kraken selecting Jakub Voracek. The Flyers are looking to move Voracek this offseason and the Kraken won’t have many better forwards to choose from.

Here’s what we had to say about Voracek last month:

“Jakub Voracek, if exposed, will be one of the best forwards available. Period. He tied for the Flyers’ team lead in points this season with 43 (nine goals, 43 assists) in 54 games.

Voracek has been a pretty consistent offensive presence for the Flyers since the lockout-shortened 2013 season. Since then, he has 555 points (159 goals, 396 assists) in 649 games. That’s around 20 goals and 50 assists for 70 points per 82 games.

Over the past three seasons, when Voracek was aged 29 to 31, he had 165 points (41 goals, 124 assists) in 200 games, so he’s still got it. That’s still almost 17 goals (16.81) and 51 assists (50.85) for 68 points per 82 games. There aren’t going to be many forwards better than that exposed in the Expansion Draft.

Voracek is a puck-carrying forward that can make his linemates better with his passing. A guy like that could help a lot with an up-and-coming team like the Kraken, who might have lesser goal scorers that Voracek can put in position to score.

While Voracek will be one of the most talented players available, he’ll also be one of the most expensive. He carries an $8.25 million cap hit through the 2023-24 season. However, as mentioned above, it’s a bit less salary-wise –– $7.5 million, $6.25 million, $7.5 million –– through the end of the contract.

If both Voracek and JVR are available to Seattle, they’ll have a decision to make.”

Now, with JVR protected, Voracek should be the guy Seattle goes after. Losing Voracek will hurt on the ice, but it’ll open up cap space for another defensive addition. Of course, Seattle could also not select Voracek and go with a cheaper option. Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Shayne Gostisbehere are among those other options.

Nevertheless, Fletcher made a trade that benefited the Flyers in more ways than one. Not only did he acquire the top-pair defenseman that the Flyers need, but he made it before the roster freeze so that JVR can be protected.

Photo: Heather Barry Images

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