Predicting Protected Lists: Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers have one or two forwards too many heading into the expansion draft, but other than that, they face no real challenges. Nine out of the ten skaters spots are easy to predict for Philadelphia.
For forwards, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Valtteri Filppula, and Sean Couturier will 100% be protected. After that, the last spot comes down to Jordan Weal, Michael Raffl, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
Weal was acquired a few seasons ago by the Flyers in the Vincent Lecavalier trade with Los Angeles. He has shown flashes of brilliance offensively and his numbers have been outstanding. Last season, he posted 12 points in 23 NHL games and 47 points in 43 AHL games.
If the Flyers feel confident that they can sign Weal to an extension prior to or after the expansion draft, they will most likely be protecting him. But, that means that Weal has to make the team next year and make an impact. It would be a high-risk, high-reward selection.
Raffl, 28, and Bellemare, 32, both did not post great numbers for the Flyers last season, but both are valuable in their own right to the team.
Jordan Weal still seems like the most likely option, though.
On defense, Shayne Gostisbehere and Radko Gudas are locks to be protected.
With many of their other core defensemen heading into next season, like Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim, being exempt, the Flyers do not really have much of a choice for their last defensive spot. It will be going to Brandon Manning, as Andrew MacDonald will be used to fulfill the exposure requirement.
In goal, the decision is tricky. Michal Neuvirth and Anthony Stolarz, albeit under different circumstances, are both worthy of protection.
However, with all things considered, I believe the Flyers will go with Neuvirth as their protection pick. He is slated to be their starter next season, or at least their 1A, and losing him and Steve Mason in one offseason would be crippling.
In total, the Philadelphia Flyers could have a protection list that looks like this:
Forwards: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Valtteri Filppula, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Jordan Weal
Defense: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning
Goalie: Michal Neuvirth
A forward, whether it be Weal, Raffl, Bellemare, Cousins, or Laughton, is probable to go to Vegas.
Next team: Pittsburgh Penguins