The Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft is set for Wednesday, and this morning we learned what players would be protected from the 30 teams across the league. The Philadelphia Flyers had a few decisions to make as yesterday’s deadline loomed, but they ultimately came up with their 11 players to protect.
Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Valtteri Filppula, Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds were the first six forwards protected, as expected, and Ron Hextall tapped Scott Laughton for the final forward slot.
By protecting Laughton the Flyers have elected to not protect a few noteworthy forwards. The biggest names that Vegas may select are Jordan Weal and Michael Raffl. Jordan Weal is a young player that has showed promise, but he is also a free agent. Hextall could have a handshake deal with Weal, agreeing to sign him after Vegas passes on him. The Flyers could bribe Vegas to choose someone like Matt Read or even Dale Weise instead. They may choose to go that route anyway rather than wasting a free agent slot on an unproven player.
The choices on defense were more straightforward, with Hextall protecting Radko Gudas, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Brandon Manning.
Protecting Manning leaves Andrew MacDonald exposed to Vegas, and now Philadelphia can begin praying that the Golden Knights take the overpaid defenseman off our hands.
Lastly, the Flyers chose to protect 23-year-old goalie Anthony Stolarz in the crease. Protecting Stolarz leaves Michal Neuvirth exposed for Vegas to potentially draft, and they have displayed some interest in him in the weeks leading up to the draft.
The Flyers, like all teams, have more than a handful of players exposed to the Vegas Golden Knights. Among them are forwards Michael Raffl, Jordan Weal, Matt Read, and Dale Weise, defenseman Andrew MacDonald and goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
Teams will be able to negotiate with Vegas to not take a certain player, or to bribe them to take a certain player. I would hope that Hextall would use that leeway to keep Weal’s rights, and perhaps Raffl as well.
It’ll be interesting to see who the Vegas Golden Knights elect to take out of the players left exposed by the Flyers. The expansion draft will be televised on Wednesday night.
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