Who will the Flyers protect in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft?

James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Flyers need to think clearly.

This past summer, Seattle’s hockey franchise took another step in becoming the 32nd team in the NHL. The Kraken was born as the NHL will soon take the next step into initiation, the NHL expansion draft.

For those who don’t know how an NHL expansion draft works here are the basic rules for Seattle:

  • Seattle must take a player from each NHL franchise
  • No team will have more than one player chosen
  • Seattle must take at least 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goalies
  • Las Vegas is exempt from the expansion draft

All of the NHL teams have their own rules to follow too:

  • Teams may only protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie OR 8 skaters and 1 goalie
  • Players on the first or second years of their rookie contract are safe
  • Unsigned draft picks are safe
  • If a player has a No Movement Clause (NMC) the team must protect them unless they waive the NMC
  • The team must expose 2 forwards under contract in 2021-2022 who have played either in 40 games this season or 70 in the last two
  • The team must expose 1 defenseman under contract in 2021-2022 who has played either in 40 games this season or 70 in the last two
  • The team must expose 1 goalie under contract in 2021-2022 or a 2021 restricted free agent that has already received a qualifying offer

Simple right?

So which Flyers players will be protected, and who will be available for Seattle to snatch? First, let’s break down which players the Flyers don’t have to worry about protecting.

Automatically Safe

There are a couple of players worth mentioning as automatically safe due to contract rules. Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Cam York, and Tyson Forester are all automatically protected without the use of a protection spot. This is huge as not needing spots to protect Frost Farabee and York open up more spots for more of the depth pieces on this team.

There are also two players that automatically cannot be taken due to their NMC. Both Kevin Hayes and Claude Giroux will both be safe, but they do take up 2 of the 7 forward spots, which leaves the question: Who will the Flyers protect?

Forwards (7)

1) Travis Konecny

Konecny was the leading points scorer on the team last season, is on a team-friendly contract, and he is only 23 years old. The Flyers protect him immediately.

2) Sean Couturier

The Selke winning center is possibly the Flyers’ most important forward to protect. An elite 2-way player on another team-friendly contract. The Flyers don’t even think about leaving Couturier exposed.

3) Jake Voracek

Jake is a team leader and is currently 1st on the team in assists. Voracek has been a Flyer for almost 10 years now and has produced highly as a puck mover for this team, they’ll keep him around even with his massive cap hit.

4/5) Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes

These two are the only ones with NMC, they won’t be going anywhere.

Here is where the forward selection process starts to get difficult. At this point in the protection process, there are only two spots left. This is a bit of a problem given the Flyers have Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick, Scott Laughton, and James Van Riemsdyk still unprotected. Who gets the protection?

6) Oskar Lindblom

Lindblom is coming back from cancer and performing at a lower rate than his previous seasons, which was expected. Just remember that this is the man who led the Flyers in goals for a couple of months after his diagnosis. The talent is there, once his physicality and conditioning are back to 100% his celling is massive.

7) Nolan Patrick

Before the season started Laughton most likely would’ve been the 7th forward protected, but the way Patrick has stepped up this season after missing all of last season due to injury has been phenomenal. He looks like he hasn’t missed a step in his development which is a good sign for him to get protected.


  • Scott Laughton
  • James Van Riemsdyk
  • Nick Aube-Kubel
  • Michael Raffl

Defensemen (3)

Unlike the forwards, this decision is pretty easy to make

1) Ivan Provorov

Provorov is this team’s best defenseman and possible future captain. There is no shot the Flyers leave him unprotected.

2) Phil Myers

Myers is the team’s best RHD right now with York still in college developing. The 3-year contract they just gave him to shows their commitment to him for the future. Myers is staying.

3) Travis Sanheim

If Shayne Gostisbehere continues to play as well as he is this season, this might be a different story. As of right now though the youth and potential of Sanheim make it easier to protect him over Gostisbehere, especially with Shayne’s contract.


  • Robert Hägg
  • Shayne Gostisbehere
  • Justin Braun
  • Erik Gustafsson

Goalies (1)

1) Carter Hart

There is nothing to write, this is the most automatic protection in the draft.


  • Brian Elliott
  • Alex Lyon

Who gets taken?

When looking at the unprotected list, there are only 3 players I can see leaving the Flyers this offseason in the expansion draft.

1) Shayne Gostisbehere

Gostisbehere has massive offensive potential and has been playing better this season than he had in his previous two. If Ghost continues to play well and the Flyers still chose to protect Sanheim over him, he is a prime candidate for Seattle.

2) Scott Laughton

At his best Laughton is a goal-scoring second-line center. At his worst he a turnover-prone 4th line center that is a forechecking pest. Either choice is a good selection for Seattle as they could bury him low on their lines, or use his streaky goal scoring talent on the top 2 lines. The only problem is he’s a UFA so Seattle would have to try to re-sign him immediately after selection.

3) James Van Riemsdyk

Van Riemsdyk has been the player linked to Seattle by the Flyers fanbase for months now. JVR has a massive cap hit and one-dimensional style of play that did not seem to fit AV’s playstyle last season (although he is playing much better this year). JVR might have a better chance of production in Seattle as a change of scenery usually can help revive a career. Veteran leadership is important too, as JVR could be the only unprotected player on the Flyers who have been to a Stanley Cup Final. If he does get taken look for a C or A on JVR’s jersey next season.