Flyers News & Rumors: Voracek Out, Atkinson in & Draft Picks

Welcome to another edition of Flyers News & Rumors. The Philadelphia Flyers continue to shake up their roster in an effort to have improved results in the 2021-22 season. Long-time Flyers forward Jakub Voracek was traded by the organization to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Cam Atkinson on July 24. The NHL Draft took place on July 23-24 and the orange and black did not have a pick on the first night after trading their first-round draft selection (13th overall) to the Buffalo Sabres in the deal for defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. The Flyers drafted six players on July 24, which included two forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.

Flyers Trade Voracek for Atkinson

General manager Chuck Fletcher continued to look for ways to boost the Flyers roster by trading Voracek to the Blue Jackets for Atkinson. The Flyers alternate captain was a consistent presence in the lineup as he played in 772 games over a 10-year span. He was drafted by the Blue Jackets in 2007 and was acquired along with the team’s first- and third-round draft picks by the Flyers in 2011 in exchange for forward Jeff Carter.

Voracek displayed his durability throughout his tenure with the Flyers by playing in every game during the NHL season in five seasons, which included the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13. He was excellent in setting up scoring opportunities and was one of the top players on the team, if not the best, in racking up assists. In 2014-15, he finished with 59 assists, which was second behind Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom (60 assists) and in the 2017-18 season he totaled 65 assists, which was the fourth-highest behind forward and former Flyers teammate Claude Giroux (68 assists), Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler (68 assists) and Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (67 assists).

Welcome to the Flyers, Cam Atkinson

One of the strengths that stands out about Atkinson’s game is his penalty-killing ability. The new Flyers forward mentioned this part of his game after being acquired by the Flyers.

“I take a lot of pride in how I PK, and my aggressiveness and anticipation and my energy, so I think that whoever AV puts me with, we’re going to have success,” Atkinson said.

From “With Jakub Voracek-for-Cam Atkinson trade, Flyers shake up core and fill stylistic needs in the process” – by Charlie O’Connor, The Athletic, 7/24/21

The Flyers struggled on the penalty kill last season finishing 30th in the NHL with a penalty-killing percentage of 73.05 percent and allowed the most power-play goals in the league with 45. Acquiring players through trades or free agent signings that specialize in penalty killing and have a strong defensive pedigree is a priority for Fletcher if the team is to return to playoff contention in 2021-22. Last season, Atkinson aided the Blue Jackets in finishing eighth in the NHL in power-play goals allowed (PPGA) with 28 even though the team ranked 20th out of 31 teams with a penalty-killing percentage of 78.95 percent.

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Atkinson, 32, has less of a cap hit than Voracek as the former is scheduled to make $5.785 million until the 2025-26 season, while the latter will earn $8.25 million for the next three seasons. The contract of the new Flyers addition has a modified no-trade clause (M-NTC), but the franchise is saving $3.58 million in cap space. Fletcher is also hoping to sign defenseman Travis Sanheim and goaltender Carter Hart who are both restricted free agents (RFA) to new contracts. The forwards involved in the trade may benefit from a change of scenery as both players were on their former teams for 10 seasons.

Flyers Draft Selections

The Flyers did not have a draft pick in the first round, but made the following selections during the Entry Draft on July 24. Here are the players’ names, their positions, the numbers they were selected at during the draft and where they played the majority of their season in 2020-21.

Samu Tuomaala, RW (46th overall), Karpat in the Finnish Liiga

Aleksei Kolosov, G (78th overall), Dinamo Minsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)

Brian Zanetti, D (110th overall), HC Lugano of the Under 20 Elite league

• Ty Murchison, D (158th overall), United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP)

• Ethan Samson, D (174th overall), Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League (WHL)

• Owen McLaughlin, C (206th overall, United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP)

The Flyers organization is in the midst of a transition as the 2020-21 season ended with many improvements needed throughout the roster. Fletcher has made several moves within the last week in order to get the right players on the team in order to return to the playoffs in 2021-22. The defense has some new faces in Ryan Ellis along with Rasmus Ristolainen while Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakub Voracek who have each been a part of the orange and black for several years are now with other franchises. The Flyers general manager has a lot of pressure to make the right moves in order to improve the leadership of the team. For him and the fanbase, hopefully he is making the correct moves in order to put the orange and black on the right track to returning to the playoffs next season.

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