Get excited, Vegas Golden Knights fans. The Philadelphia Flyers are up next on our list of players that you should know ahead of next month’s NHL Expansion Draft.
The Flyers pick is an interesting one. Philadelphia was not a good team this season, but they’re going to lose a good piece. There are a couple of safe bets on this list, but if Vegas general manager George McPhee wants to swing for the fences, it’s not impossible he could pick up a franchise player.
Philadelphia’s expansion draft strategy likely changed at the NHL’s trade deadline. The Flyers added Valtteri Filppula in March, and with it his no-movement clause. He joins Claude Giroux in that exclusive company.
So read up, Vegas fans. Philadelphia is an intriguing expansion draft partner. Let’s argue about who’s on their way to Sin City. Here are four Flyers Vegas fans should know.
Across mock expansion drafts, Read’s name is coming up quite a bit. It makes sense on a few different levels. If Read is able to live up to the expectations he’s been shouldered with since he finished third in Calder voting five years ago, the $3.5 million he’s owed next season could end up being a smoking deal for Vegas.
At the same time, it’s impossible to ignore how Read’s season ended. March 31st he exited Philadelphia’s game against the New York Islanders with what was later revealed to be a broken arm.
That injury coupled with Read’s age versus his skill set as a two-way player is the decision McPhee will likely have to make between now and the third week in June. It’s not an easy one.
In my estimation, Dale Weise is a more likely candidate to be added to the inaugural Golden Knights roster.
Firstly, he’s more of a player McPhee is said to covet. Big, works hard, enthusiastic about dropping his gloves when the situation calls for it.
He’s a journeyman in this league, and he’ll not soon fill up the stat sheet in Las Vegas. Weise has been with five teams in six years. That’s the kind of information you can spin to fit multiple narratives. I’m going to choose to use it as an example that he’s a player that knows how to start over. But that quality would come at a cost. Just last year he signed a four-year deal that will pay him $2.35 million per season. Many will think that’s steep for a player like Weise. I don’t have a compelling argument to the contrary, but I see value in the seven-year vet.
If you bristle at that third year that is left on Weise’s contract, perhaps Michael Raffl is more your speed.
The 28-year-old forward is also owed $2.35 million per season, but he’ll get his last check on that contract in 2019. Whether to protect or expose Raffl this offseason will likely be a difficult decision for Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall. I say protect. The logic to expose involves saving a protected spot for the final name on our list.
I like Raffl and I suspect if he’s made available to the Golden Knights, Vegas will be quick to snatch him up. Injuries are a concern here, though. It’s been a familiar theme for Raffl’s four-year NHL career. His 2016-17 season ended after 52 games thanks to a knee injury suffered on Feb 28 against Colorado. If McPhee can look past that, he may be a Knight.
If Raffl snags the final Philadelphia protected spot, I think Scott Laughton is the Flyer who will be relocating to Nevada.
Upside will be the determining factor here. On paper Laughton has a ton of it. He exists in this universe where he’s probably too good for the AHL but has yet to make a significant impact in the big leagues. Has Hextall seen enough to determine that Laughton’s ceiling isn’t worth losing a player like Raffl? Maybe a few more games in Philadelphia this season would have made that decision easier.
If Laughton winds up in Vegas it could end up being a fantastic get for the Knights. He’s a former first-round pick who I think hasn’t shown yet that he can’t turn into an above average two-way center. If Philadelphia loses him for nothing, and that’s what he becomes, they shouldn’t feel too bad. Laughton’s largely an unknown commodity in 2017, but I think the 22-year-old is worth taking a shot on in the expansion draft.