The Philadelphia Flyers are in an offseason of transition as the franchise could be gradually moving on from the core players that have been with the team for several seasons. After the disappointing 2020-21 season concluded, general manager Chuck Fletcher admitted in the exit interview that he is open to upgrading everywhere on the roster, so it remains to be seen how many players currently on the orange and black will be elsewhere when the 2021-22 season commences. The recent news of the first head coach named for the Seattle Kraken makes for interesting speculation as to which player the Kraken will select in the upcoming expansion draft from the Flyers.
Dave Hakstol was named the head coach of the Kraken on June 24 and brings over three years of head coaching experience from his time in Philadelphia. The Flyers roster consists of several players who may not be protected for the expansion draft such as Jakub Voracek, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg and Nolan Patrick who were on the team at some point during Hakstol’s tenure. James van Riemsdyk, another candidate to be selected in the expansion draft, briefly played with him before the coach was relieved of his duties in December 2018.
How much will Hakstol’s past with Philadelphia influence the expansion draft pick for Seattle? Does he have a preference for who he would like general manager Ron Francis to select from the Flyers?
Avoid a Player with a Large Contract or Injury History
Gostisbehere has been inconsistent and injury prone throughout his career in Philadelphia after having expectations of being the franchise defenseman after he was drafted in 2012. He is skilled at generating offense from the defensive position but had his struggles playing defense, which resulted in the defenseman being a healthy scratch under former head coach Hakstol and current head coach Alain Vigneault. Fletcher may attempt to rid the Flyers roster of expensive player contracts that have been with the franchise for several seasons, and Gostisbehere is one of the candidates who could be on the move during the offseason.
Gostisbehere, 28, has a contract that will pay him $4.5 million until 2023 and has been rumored to be one of the players to be selected by Seattle in the expansion draft on July 21. Given the defenseman’s erratic play under Hakstol, the head coach of the Kraken may prefer management choose another player in the draft from the Flyers. His contract and injury history may be another factor in Seattle looking at other franchises for defensemen. Francis may select and trade him to another franchise for other players or draft compensation rather than have a player with a high salary who is currently in his prime and not getting any younger.
However, Gostisbehere did have some success under Hakstol and the new coach for Seattle could convince Francis that the Flyers defenseman could benefit from a change of scenery with the Kraken. He has fallen out of favor with Vigneault after a volatile 2020-21 season that saw him have some success offensively, but he was placed on and cleared waivers in the middle of the season.
Shayne Gostisbehere was not claimed, so he clears waivers.— Charlie O’Connor (@charlieo_conn) March 31, 2021
A new start with Seattle could be what is best for him to revive his career.
While other players like Voracek and van Riemsdyk can still provide good production, both have a high average annual value. Voracek, 31, is making $8.25 million each season until 2024 and van Riemsdyk, 32, will be earning $7 million each season until 2023.
Is Youth a Better Choice?
The Flyers have some players who are younger with more affordable contracts unlike Gostisbehere. One of the young players who may not be protected by Philadelphia includes the 22-year-old Patrick.
Patrick’s 2020-21 season did not feature much offensive production as he missed the 2019-20 season with a migraine condition. The second-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft may benefit from going to another team as he has struggled with Philadelphia and changed agents several times early on in his career. He is a restricted free agent this offseason and is due for a new contract, which could be one explanation for why he switched agents.
Francis could view his situation as an opportunity to select the young forward in the draft and provide him with the opportunity for a fresh start with a new franchise. Since he was drafted by former general manager Ron Hextall, there has been criticism around the selection, and a chance to continue his career with another franchise could help the forward realize his potential.
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Nicolas Aube-Kubel, 25, Travis Sanheim, 25, and Philippe Myers, 24, may all of had down years in 2020-21, but are still young and are not signed to expensive contracts. Aube-Kubel has one year remaining on his contract and will earn $1.075 million. Sanheim is a restricted free agent and is due for a new contract. Myers will earn $2.55 million until 2023 before he becomes a restricted free agent.
The Kraken will have a number of options to choose from the Flyers on the night of the expansion draft and it remains to be seen who the Flyers will choose to protect from being selected. Hakstol’s history coaching in Philadelphia will have an impact on who Seattle selects from the orange and black in the expansion draft and it would not be surprising to see the Kraken draft a young player from the Flyers or draft a veteran player and trade the selected veteran player for draft assets.
Matt covers the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins for The Hockey Writers. Matt’s priority is to contribute exceptional content about the Flyers and Penguins for THW and its readers. Matt writes for The Globe newspaper at Salt Lake Community College. To see more of Matt’s writing, visit his portfolio. For interview requests, follow Matt on Twitter that appears at the end of articles for THW.