An Outlandish Expansion Draft Strategy For the Flyers

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: The NHL's Seattle Kraken Team Store during its grand opening on August 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: The NHL's Seattle Kraken Team Store during its grand opening on August 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Does it Make Sense for the Flyers to Expose Jake Voracek in the Expansion Draft?

Maybe it is the effects of not having the Flyers or even any NHL hockey in November. Maybe it the madness of politics and lockdowns. Or maybe it is my own personal riot in my mind and it is playing out in expansion mania, but I had the weirdest thought and I just can’t let it go. My mind is stuck on expansion and it is going to strange places.

The Flyers will likely protect one goalie,  three defensemen and seven forwards (rather than the eight skaters and one goalie). The goalie situation is pretty simple.  Protect Carter Hart, leave Elliott as expansion fodder.  Simple and easy, there is not much overthinking required.

The defense situation is slightly more complex  As it stands today, the protected defensemen will be Provorov, Myers and Sanheim.  This leaves Gostisbehere, Braun and Hagg exposed to be plucked. These are players of significant value, if we use Braun for reference,  he fetched a second and third-round pick when the Flyers acquired him. It was a bit of an overpay, but a reasonable market. Hagg should be in the same ballpark as Braun. Hagg is younger and had a better contract than Braun. Gostisbehere, in my mind, represents a massive increase in worth given his skillset. Losing Ghost for nothing represents a problem, but a problem with many solutions.

Upfront with the forwards is where it gets fun and a little crazy.  I expect the Flyers will protect Giroux and Hayes; they are players with a no-movement clause that requires their protection. Sean Couturier may be the team’s best player at his moment, and the Selke winner will be protected. Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom are two young players that can score, which the team would want to protect. Nolan Patrick was the second overall pick for a reason, and despite his injuries it seems a needless risk to that kind of investment available in expansion.

That leave two spots open, with one very big name still not protected. That name of course is Jake Voracek. Voracek was a no brainer for me. He may be the most naturally gifted player on the team, and is one of the ten best players in the league at his position.  The net takeaway was that Jake was really good, and he should be protected.

Further cementing that argument is the Flyers are looking at players like JVR, Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl as players who would be protected if Voracek was not. As much as I like the players who would be protected in Jake’s stead, they are not nearly as good. Not even in the same ballpark.

Things get bleaker, as I feel certain that Chuck Fletcher is going to mangle the expansion draft. If you look at his work in Minnesota, it is really cringe-worthy. The Wild gave up Alex Tuch, in exchange for the Knights taking Erik Haula. This maneuver was to protect the defenseman Mathew Dumba from expansion, which was a reasonable thing to do at the time. The issue of course is that this could have been dealt with sooner in the season, rather than forcing Vegas to take Haula, who scored 29 goals, by giving them the 20-year-old Tuch who scored 15 goals and looked like a beast in this past season’s playoffs.

Fletcher’s deal was not the worst deal struck in the great Vegas expansion extortion, but it was still pretty bad. The Flyers will be facing a dilemma on defense, they will likely have to expose Gostisbehere in the expansion draft, and it would be bad to lose him for nothing, but much like in Minnesota, the cure could be worse than the disease. Would Fletcher send a prospect, like Morgan Frost and a first-round pick, to Vegas to pick JVR?  As bad as that sounds, I bet Fletcher could make it worse.