Seattle Expansion Draft Series: Article 14 - Philadelphia and Pittsburgh
Welcome back to our Seattle Expansion Draft Series. If you haven’t read the first article that lays out the rules of the expansion draft, that would be a good starting point, as I’ll only give the very basic rules in each of these follow up articles. If you are interested in Detroit, that was the second article and the seventh article.
I’m going to take a look at either one or two other NHL teams each week. My goal is to get some input from people who cover the team because let’s face it, I don’t have the knowledge of each NHL team to be able to give you the best idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that there’s a lot that could happen between now and July, when the lists are finalized. So let’s dive into the Flyers and the Penguins!
One of the downsides of the division-only play in this year’s regular season is that I didn’t get to be a guest on Kelly Hinkle’s game preview show for Broad Street Hockey. It’s always fun, and she’s a great person to talk about the Flyers with. As I’m sure you can guess by now, she helped me out with the Flyers section of this article.
It’s interesting how few teams have a difficult decision at goal. Philly is no different: They are going to protect Carter Hart.
The two easy defensemen are Ivan Provorov and Phillipe Myers. On the initial list I sent to Kelly, I had Shayne Gostisbehere protected. I do remember that he was waived. I thought that Philly would still try to trade him and wouldn’t have to lose him for nothing. Kelly said that she thinks the third defenseman will be Travis Sanheim, and Philly will expose Gostisbehere.
The forward side has some easy answers and some difficult ones. We’ll start with the easy ones.
Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes have NMCs, and there isn’t a reason they won’t be protected. Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier are also pretty easy picks.
I originally had Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk, but according to Hinkle:
Let’s talk up front. The Flyers desperately need to shed salary this offseason if they’re going to make the improvements they desperately need to make. As such, I think they leave both Jake and JVR unprotected. I think those two slots go to Scott Laughton (they just re-signed him) and Oskar Lindblom, whom I think they’re super high on hockey-wise. They won’t risk losing him for nothing.
That leaves one slot open, and one Nolan Patrick. Kelly points out that he was not very good last year, but even though she’s not sure he should even be protected, she says “he was a 2nd overall and you [the Flyers] don’t want to lose that kind of pedigreed asset for nothing.” I’m protecting him on my list.
I asked her about the biggest decision:
The biggest decision might be, do you make a side deal with Seattle to ensure that they take one of your big salary players? Like, it’s POSSIBLE they take JVR. But what if you want to be certain you can shed salary? Because it’s a huge deal. They have to clear space to get better. So maybe you give up a first or something to be sure it gets done.
The last question I asked Kelly was about who she thought Seattle could be looking at:
My hope is that they look at a guy like JVR who brings experience to the table, is still pretty good, and (I think? lol) his actual salary is lower than his cap hit, which helps them get to the floor without blowing the budget. Losing that contract will certainly help the Flyers this offseason. If not JVR, I can see them taking NAK [Nicolas Aubé-Kubel]. He’s young, cheap, and his relatively good underlying numbers over the course of his NHL career might be attractive to a front office like Seattle’s.
Current Predicted Protections
Claude Giroux (NMC)
Kevin Hayes (NMC)
Notable Unprotected Players
James van Riemsdyk
For the Penguins, I reached out to Mike Darnay, a Managing Editor at Pensburgh. He’s a great follow on Twitter and well worth reading.
Even though he didn’t do that well in the playoffs this year, Pittsburgh doesn’t want to lose Tristan Jarry for nothing. Goalies have bad playoff series all the time, and all but the best are volatile, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to overreact and leave him unprotected.
On defense, there are a couple obvious choices. Kris Letang has a NMC and will be protected regardless. Brian Dumoulin is also going to be protected. I selected Mike Matheson in the list I sent to Mike. Here’s what he said about this last defensive spot:
On the defensive side, the fact that John Marino is exempt from being selected is a saving grace. That would make things much tougher as Letang, Dumoulin, and Marino are key pieces here. Perhaps they could leave Mike Matheson unprotected, assuming his contract might keep Seattle from being too interested? That kind of leaves it down to Marcus Pettersson, who, if was selected by Seattle, it would not be the end of the world.
I’m keeping Matheson here, but if they don’t protect him, Pettersson is the player to pencil in.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin are slam dunks. Jake Guentzel and Kaspari Kapanen are the next forwards likely to be protected. Next on the list I sent Mike were Jared McCann and Teddy Blueger.
My last forward I had protected was Jeff Carter, but Mike had a different idea:
Carter has been an immense addition to the team since Hextall traded for him, but he is going into the last year of his deal, and as a result, I don’t think Seattle would want to use their expansion pick on him.
Aston-Reese seemed to really come into his own this year and is great defensively. Hextall said yesterday that the team is going to lose a quality player, but also said that he doesn’t see the team making a side deal to force a selection. My guess is that the team has limited draft assets as it is, and he doesn’t want to give up any more to ensure a certain pick is made. If the team was hell bent on moving on from Tristan Jarry (which I don’t believe they are nor should they be), I could see them trying to make a deal to have him be selected.
So the last forward on this list is Zach Aston-Reese.
As for who Seattle could be looking at? Mike had this to say:
I think one of the forwards in Bryan Rust, Jason Zucker, or Brandon Tanev are the most likely choices here. All 3 are the same age, at 29, and all are wingers.
Rust has become quite the goal scorer. With one year left on his deal leading into unrestricted free agency, i don’t think the Penguins want to be the team to give out that next deal, and he could be a quality player for many more years, so it would be a nice key piece for Seattle to start with. Tanev’s kind of got the same wild card contract like Matheson that might keep Seattle from biting. So….if I had to say right now, and no other moves are made? Probably Bryan Rust or Jason Zucker.
Current Predicted Protections
Kris Letang (NMC)
Sidney Crosby (NMC)
Evgeny Malkin (NMC)
Notable Unprotected Players
Article 1: The Rules
Article 2: Detroit (First Time)
Article 3: Anaheim and Arizona
Article 4: Boston and Buffalo
Article 5: Calgary and Carolina
Article 6 - Chicago and Colorado
Article 7 - Detroit (Second Time)
Quick Rules Update
Article 8 - Columbus and Dallas
Article 9 - Edmonton and Florida
Article 10 - Los Angeles and Minnesota
Article 11 - Montreal and Nashville
Article 12 - New Jersey and New York (Islanders)
Article 13 - New York (Rangers) and Ottawa Senators