As we get closer to the expansion draft, there will be a lot of speculation about how a very active Las Vegas team will affect the Flyers moving forward. Mostly they’ll start up a bunch of rumors that will fuel us until the list of players Vegas has picked is revealed. Until then let’s talk about the rumors that have been going around and how we should look at them.
Chicago’s 2-for-1 deal won’t work for the Flyers
It’s been a topic of conversation since the expansion draft rules were announced. The idea that teams would try to shed bad contracts by making a deal with the new team have been going around all season. Last week TSN analyst, Frank Seravalli reported that Vegas is indeed looking at making deals with teams who were a bit desperate to clear some cap space. The initial report is that the Blackhawks are trying to make a deal that would leave defenseman Trevor VanRiemsdyk exposed to Vegas if they’re willing to take Marcus Kruger.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 31, 2017
This obviously renewed the idea that the Flyers could unload Andrew MacDonald onto the Golden Knights. There are a few reasons why that wouldn’t make sense though.
The main motivation for Chicago is clearing up cap space (they’re about $4.5 million over the cap). To do that they’re willing to dangle VanRiemsdyk if it will clear Kruger’s nearly $3million cap hit.
So the Hawks’ pitch to Golden Knights GM George McPhee is essentially, “We’re going to trade TVR to another team and not let you have him unless you agree to take on Kruger’s contract as well.” –Second City Hockey
The Flyers are a different story. For the first time in a few seasons, the Flyers actually have some cap space available and won’t be scrambling to find a way to get cap compliant. They actually have around $13 million right now, before getting Gostisbehere and Weal signed to new contracts. While MacDonald’s contract is obviously bad, the Flyers are under no immediate pressure to get rid of it. Besides that, MacDonald was put in a top pairing role last season, tasked with shutting down opponents top lines and given partial credit for Ivan Provorov’s impressive rookie season. His increased role makes it seem unlikely that the Flyers are even thinking about moving the veteran defenseman. It’s even a possibility that the Flyers will decide to protect MacDonald with their last defensive spot on the protection list.
Trevor VanRiemsdyk might be the best option for the Golden Knights to draft from Chicago, which Chicago could be using to their advantage. They could threaten to trade VanRiemsdyk leaving the Knights with a player they’re not too excited about. Then again this potential deal could be ruined if the Knights actually have their eyes on a different player. The Flyers don’t have that same bargaining option.
Say the Knights are looking to take Michael Raffl from the Flyers, but the Flyers threaten to trade him, Vegas could then shift to Matt Read, or Dale Weise, or Scott Laughton. Philly has options for Vegas leaving Hextall without that same leverage.
A 1st Round Pick for a Bad Contract
A lot of interest in the expansion draft for Philadelphia fans is hoping that we can get better by losing players with bad contracts. When Pierre Lebrun added that there were talks about a team trading a first round pick in exchange for the Golden Knights taking on a team’s bad contract, our minds immediately went to Andrew MacDonald, again.
Lots going on with Vegas. I also hear they might net a 1st RD pick from a team for taking on a bad contract… fun few weeks ahead https://t.co/il6PNEcurf
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 31, 2017
It’s possible that the Flyers have looked into a trade involving the 2nd overall pick in this draft, but there’s still no reason to suggest that they feel a desperate need to get rid of Andrew MacDonald. The Flyers lucked into a draft pick that could drastically improve the team, it wouldn’t be too smart to get rid of that opportunity to clear some cap space that they don’t necessarily need. Other than that, the Flyers don’t have any horrible contracts that would be worth the 2nd overall pick.
George McPhee Likes Michal Neuvirth
We, as fans, are always looking for a way to get rid of MacDonald, but there are a few other contracts that Flyers fans wouldn’t mind seeing moved out. Michal Neuvirth is one of them.
In the worst season of his career, Neuvirth was given a contract extension and a raise. He followed up his new contract with a slew of horrendous games. Then the Flyers watched as a pissed off Steve Mason pulled out another stretch of strong performances. Signing Neuvirth completed the alienation of Mason and made the Flyers goaltending situation for this upcoming season a concern. Mason can still be re-signed, but he’s made it clear that sharing the net isn’t good enough for him.
In a recent interview at the NHL scouting combine, Vegas’ general manager, George McPhee had good things to say about Neuvirth.
“As a goaltender, we always described Michal as a guy who was technically perfect,” McPhee said at the NHL scouting combine Saturday. “He certainly has a great physique and body composition for the position.” – Philly.com
McPhee’s comments don’t necessarily mean that the Golden Knights will take Neuvirth. There are plenty of other options out there available for McPhee to pick up who didn’t fall apart last season, but familiarity might play a role. McPhee was the general manager of the Washington Capitals when Neuvirth was a backup there. If it wasn’t for Brayden Holtby, Neuvirth may have been able to take the number one spot.
If Vegas were to take Neuvirth from the Flyers it could open up an opportunity for the organization to try to repair the relationship with Mason and re-sign him as the number one goalie until one of the many goalie prospects is ready to take over. It could also leave the Flyers without a clear starter at free agent goalies. In picking up a free agent, the Flyers are unlikely to find someone who is willing to be a bridge goalie for the young waiting prospects. They’ll have to spend an unnecessary amount of money or give a goaltender a higher term with the intention of trading him in the future.
There are plenty of opportunities for the Flyers to get rid of bad players and bad contracts, but the positives of those deals don’t seem to outweigh the negatives. If the Flyers are prepared to lose a goalie, they’ll need a backup plan. If they’re willing to give up the 2nd overall pick, then we might have to question Hextall’s decisions.