Philadelphia Flyers: Expansion draft leaves more questions than answers

And just like that, the deal is done.

After weeks of speculation, hypothecation, and more than a few mock moves for good measure, the Seattle Kraken have officially made their selections in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, and needless to say, more than a few surprises went down in the process.

Carsen Twarynski, enjoy the rainy wonderland known colloquially as the Pacific Northwest.

But what does this mean for the Philadelphia Flyers? Did they dodge a bullet with Seattle’s unconventional selection, or does Twarynski’s exit create more questions than answers?

Unfortunately, it’s much more of the latter than the former.

The Philadelphia Flyers still have moves to make heading into 2021.

Losing Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, and/or Shayne Gostisbehere to the Seattle Kraken would have been a blessing in disguise.

Now granted, that’s not meany to take away from the on-ice play of any of those players. JvR and Ghost specifically were very good for the Flyers in 2021, and either would have been replaced by an inferior talent outside of a surprise camp standout or an external addition.

But, riddle me this, what do those three players have in common? Well, they all just so happen to be signed to very expensive contracts when compared to their protected roles in 2021-22.

After landing Ryan Ellis via trade from the Nashville Predators – a move that should prove incredibly fruitful but did add roughly $2.8 to the cap – the Flyers found themselves with roughly $9.3 million to spend heading into the expansion draft and at least a few holes on their depth chart heading into the free agency and the regular draft.

On paper, that’s a decent enough amount of money to work with. Ellis, for example, only makes $6.25 million a year, and he’s one of the best defenders in the entire league. But the Flyers can’t simply go out and use that money however they please. No, they have a number of pending free agents that must be addressed first, and that should limit their optionality considerably.

Why do you trade Gostisbehere, an NHL defenseman by any conceivable metric, to the Arizona Coyotes for a second-round pick and a seventh-round pick? Because they can’t afford to keep him around and still sign Carter Hart, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, and address free agent needs like backup goalie.

Wait, the Flyers surrendered a pair of picks to get off of Ghost’s contract and got nothing back in return? My goodness, they’d better have something really good coming down the pipeline; otherwise, that’s a gross misallocation of assets.

Could the influx of cap space essentially purchased for a second-round pick, Gostisbehere, and the seventh round acquired from the Ottawa Senators be enough to land a viable goalie two behind Hart, who is on his way to earning a contract very few 22-year-olds have ever signed at the NHL level? Or could it instead be used to trade for a player like Mark Giordano, who was drafted by the Kraken after a well tenured time with the Calgary Flames but doesn’t quite fit with the youth movement taking root in the Rainy City? While the chances of landing Vladimir Tarasenko may have taken a hit after he too wasn’t selected in the Expansion Draft, surely there are scoring wings still on the market who could be had for the right package.

And what about Voracek? It was reported earlier this summer that his camp and the Flyers were exploring futures apart, and even with $4.5 million freed up by the Gostisbehere trade, that may still be true. Is there a positive return available for the well-traveled winger, or would the team instead have to include an asset to get off the final three years of his disproportionately expensive contract for a lesser return?

And what about the team’s first-round pick in 2021? Surely the Flyers could use it to land the next Nolan Patrick – aka a young, developmental forward to eventually take up a middle-six center spot- but would it make more sense to simply ship the pick out for an immediate contributor on the same timeline as Claude Giroux, Ryan Ellis, and even Sean Couturier, who turns 29 this December?

These are the questions that will surely be racking the brain of Chuck Fletcher over the next few days, and their answers will surely help to define the 2021-22 season as a whole.

Would the Philadelphia Flyers trade Shayne Gostisbehere for literally nothing if they didn’t have a pretty concrete plan of action moving forward? Gosh, I sure hope not. I hope they have a specific player targeted or a trade in mind that would require an additional $4.5 million in cap space to accommodate it onto their books. But then again, Chuck Fletcher and company surely hoped his job would be made easier by having one of his expensive contracts taken on by the Seattle Kraken for the 2021-22 season, so, in a league where every team is trying to work the market in their favor, nothing is guaranteed until it’s official.