Philadelphia Flyers: Vegas is Open, and Managing House Rules

Reports spread yesterday that Las Vegas will join the NHL for the 2017-18 season. What does the expansion draft mean for the Philadelphia Flyers?

The news broke yesterday that the NHL will be adding Las Vegas as its 31st team for the 2017-18 season. An official decision and announcement will not come until a Board of Governor’s meeting on June 22nd, but supposedly it is a done deal.

In addition to the finalizing the expansion team, the expansion draft rules are beginning to crystallize. While the draft won’t take place until June of 2017, the basic framework is known and teams must start thinking ahead.

The basic framework of the expansion draft rules are as follows:

  • Each team may protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goalie (or 8 skaters)
  • Teams must expose at least 2 forwards and 1 defenseman who played 40 games in the previous season, or 70 games in the previous 2 seasons, and are under contract for the 2017-2018 season.
  • Las Vegas will draft one player from every team.
  • Players with less than 2 years or less of pro hockey experience (this includes AHL experience) are exempted from the draft.
  • Players with No Movement Clauses must be protected.

Okay, so putting all that together it looks as follows for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Protected Forwards

  1. Giroux
  2. Voracek
  3. Simmonds
  4. Couturier
  5. Schenn
  6. Konecny (Exempt)
  7. Aube-Kubel (AHL prospect, Exempt)

Tweener Forwards (May Protect 2 of 3)

  1. Cousins
  2. Laughton
  3. Raffl

Exposed Forwards

  • Read
  • VandeVelde (if extended)
  • Bellemare (if extended)

Protected Defense

  1. Ghost
  2. Gudas
  3. Del Zotto (if extended)
  4. Provorov (Exempt)
  5. Morin (AHL prospect, Exempt)
  6. Sanheim (AHL prospect, Exempt)

Exposed Defense

  • MacDonald
  • Hagg (AHL prospect)
  • Manning (if extended)

Regarding goalies, the Flyers do not currently have any goalies under contract for the 2017-18 season, but whoever is the starter next season between Neuvirth and Mason will be re-signed and protected. Anthony Stolarz will have played 3 parts of AHL seasons at this point, and will be exposed by my understanding. This may not be so bad, because Vegas will likely have plenty of good, experienced NHL goalies to choose from.

All in all, the Philadelphia Flyers don’t appear to face too many difficult issues. Exposing Stolarz is uncomfortable, but unlikely to bite them. The interesting bits come with Michael Del Zotto and choosing the final 2 forwards.

Regarding Del Zotto, he is not currently under contract for 2017-18. If he is re-signed during next season, the Philadelphia Flyers will use their final protected defense slot on him. Alternatively, the Flyers could leave him un-signed through the expansion draft, then sign him as an unrestricted free agent after the draft is over.

The most interesting question is choosing to expose one of Laughton, Cousins, and Raffl. Currently, Raffl is the only of the 3 to be signed for the 2017-18 season, but let’s assume they are all signed and part of the expansion draft. In such case, performances this coming season will be a large determining factor in what the Flyers do between these 3.

In sum, a lot can happen in the meantime, but the coming of the Las Vegas NHL team and an expansion draft do not pose any imminent crises for the Philadelphia Flyers requiring particular preparation.