(Photo credit: Amy Irvin, 38 Photography)
With the NHL officially announcing expansion to Las Vegas and clarifying the rules that come with expansion, it’s now possible to try to figure out how the Flyers can best keep the core together and how to best try to avoid losing a solid player in the draft.
Of course, this leads us to Andrew MacDonald, his albatross contract is likely untradeable, especially without retaining 50%, but an expansion draft is different. He could get plucked for nothing, solving the Flyers cap problems.
Also, exposing Andrew MacDonald is something the Flyers may be forced to do as his contract fits the requirements of the rules.
First, the proctected lists:
* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:
a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender
b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender
* All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).
* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).
All contract data from Cap Friendly.
Let’s assume the Flyers go with option A, 7 F, 3D and a G are protected:
Protected: Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth
Exposed: Anthony Stolarz.
iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
The Flyers could extend one goalie in season and protect him, and then expose Stolarz who likely isn’t going to be the target of an expansion team. Filling the requirement with an undraftable player means the Las Vegas team will be forced to take a skater. It’s also possible the Vegas team could take the expiring deal of the Mason-Neuvirth duo but then risk being unable to sign the goalie before July 1.
NMC: Claude Giroux, so 6 others can be protected
1: Jake Voracek
2: Sean Couturier
3: Brayden Schenn
4: Wayne Simmonds
5: Michael Raffl
6: Matt Read
ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
Well this is easy, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde, Nick Cousins, Scott Laughton and Ryan White would all be exposed and assuming Cousins and Laughton get 2 year bridge deals, both fit the contract requirements of what must be exposed. All of these players are replaceable, especially with Travis Konecny and Nicolas Aube-Kubel ready to knock down the door to the NHL and being ineligible to be picked. It’s most likely one of the forwards goes, as a former first round pick, Laughton could be enticing, especially if he has a decent season in 16-17. Of course, the Flyers could always flip Laughton for Matt Read should Laughton truly break out as a player.
1: Shayne Gostisbehere
2: Michael Del Zotto
3: Radko Gudas or Brandon Manning
Note: Sam Morin will be exempt as he is only finishing year two as a professional.
i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
This is where exposing Andrew MacDonald ends up being useful. The Flyers have to put one defender up who meets the Games Played requirement. While Brandon Manning will likely end up with the games requirement, he may not meet the contract requirements. Andrew MacDonald, if he plays 40 games, meets both. With MacDonald up for grabs, it’s very possible that he could get plucked solely to meet the salary requirements of the new team.
* The Las Vegas franchise must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap.
The minimum salary for the Vegas team is 43.8M, and given they’ll likely be selecting players on mid tier contracts, a single large contract will help the team meet the floor right off the bat.
It’s a long shot, especially with other better players available, but the Flyers should do everything available to see if Vegas bites on Andrew MacDonald. As such, playing him in the NHL in sheltered third pair minutes makes a ton of sense because it serves the purpose of making him go away for nothing.