Dear Golden Knights…

Photo by Heather Barry

This is an open letter to the NHL’s new expansion team giving you a little bit of insight on the players that are available to take from the Flyers organization.

Dear Las Vegas Golden Knights,

Hi! Welcome to the National Hockey League! I know you’ve had a lot going on lately and there are some pretty big decisions coming up in the next few days that you’re going to have to make. You’re probably super overwhelmed, right? Well, have no fear because I’m so excited for your impending draft that I’ve put together a cheat sheet to make your decision a little easier when it comes to the Philadelphia Flyers.

First off, here’s a list of which players are available.

Let’s start with the unrestricted free agents. Why would you bother drafting these guys when you can just try to sign them later? Those players are Chris Conner, Boyd Gordon, Chris VandeVelde, Jordan Weal, Michael Del Zotto, Mark Alt, Nick Schultz, and Steve Mason.

In addition, Andy Miele and Jesper Pettersson have both signed contracts in the past few months with teams in Sweden, so they aren’t going to be smart choices, either.

Now for the players, you should actually consider.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (F)
Bellemare. Wow, where do I even begin?

Let’s talk about his attitude, first of all. He’s worked so hard to get to where he is now. He may have grown up in a country where hockey isn’t big and he may have faced his share of struggles, but Bellemare is a fighter. He’s not going to give up when things get tough. Definitely the type of guy you want around when you’re building a brand new franchise from the ground up.

His go-get-‘em attitude also makes him a great leader in the locker room. Not many teams were willing to leave players available who are current captains or alternate captains, but Bellemare has that NHL leadership experience that you’re going to want once the season starts. He also has leadership experience having worn the “A” for Team France.

On the ice, Bellemare isn’t going to be your main scorer. But he’s been one of the Flyers’ go-to penalty killers, something you’re going to want when you’re facing off against division rivals like Edmonton and Anaheim. Who else is going to stop Connor McDavid from scoring a billion power play goals against you?

His contract is team-friendly, too. He’s signed through the next two years and will cost you less than $1.5 million each year. You won’t have to resign him, and he’s not going to break the bank like some other players might.

Greg Carey (F)
Greg Carey is a good player in the AHL. Last year he led the Phantoms in goals with 28. He’s signed through the next two years for $650k each year. He’s never played in the NHL. You might not want to bother with using your expansion draft pick on him.

Taylor Leier (F)
Taylor Leier is a decent player. He’s spent the majority of his career in the AHL, though he has played 10 games in the NHL. He’s pretty good at the AHL level. He’s a restricted free agent this year, so let someone else worry about that contract.

Colin McDonald (F)
Colin McDonald has played almost 150 NHL games with 4 different teams, but the majority of his career has been in the AHL. He’s good at the AHL level, but not a player particularly worth using your expansion draft choice on.

Michael Raffl (F)
Michael Raffl is a pretty good hockey player. But he was injured for a decent part of last season, so I don’t know if you want to take a risk on bringing in a guy who hasn’t played in so long. You don’t know if he’s going to have any lingering issues or anything. There are dozens of other players exactly like Michael Raffl available to you throughout the league. Meanwhile, the Flyers have much better options. He’s worth considering, but probably not the best choice for the future of your franchise.

Matt Read (F)
Matt Read is a pretty cool dude. He’s pretty good at hockey, too. He’s good on the penalty kill and will occasionally score goals. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of next year, and this year’s salary is about $3.6 million. For a veteran presence that can kill your penalties, that’s a good price.

I think there are better options on the table for you, but Matt Read would be a solid choice.

Dale Weise (F)
Dale Weise is pretty good at hockey. He can score, he can pass, he can skate. He’s a hockey player. He’s also signed through the 2019-2020 season, so you won’t have to worry about any contract negotiations for a while. And his $2.35 million per year salary is practically a steal for the veteran presence you receive in return. Definitely worth considering.

Eric Wellwood (F)
Eric Wellwood got hurt in a game in 2013 and hasn’t played since. This just wouldn’t be a smart pick.

TJ Brennan (D)
TJ Brennan is a pretty good AHL player. He has one year left on his contract, and at $625k he won’t kill your salary cap. But he doesn’t have much experience in the NHL, only 53 games. He’s probably not worth the pick.

Andrew MacDonald (D)
Andrew MacDonald is the best player available on this list. Besides maybe Bellemare. Andrew has been with the Flyers now for three years and he’s helped shape some of the Flyers’ best young defensive players.

In the 2015-2016 season, he played predominantly with a guy named Shayne Gostisbehere. You might have heard of him, he’s the one that got robbed of the Calder trophy. He was partnered with Andrew when he broke all those rookie defenseman records. In the 2016-2017 season, Andrew played predominantly with Ivan Provorov, who was probably the best rookie defenseman in the league. Andrew just has a way with young players, he brings the best out of them. Definitely a veteran you want on your blue line.

The best part about Andrew is that you won’t need to worry about re-signing him until after the 2019-2020 season. He’s all yours for the next three years! And at an average of $5.5 million per year, that’s practically a steal.

Will O’Neill (D)
Will O’Neill is a decent AHL player, but he’s never played in the NHL. He’s currently under contract for just the 2017-2018 season with a $612.5k salary. He’s probably not your best choice.

Michal Neuvirth (G)
Michal Neuvirth is a pretty good choice for you. Rumors are you’re probably going to be selecting Marc-Andre Fleury from the Penguins, which means you’re going to have a goalie who runs really hot and cold. You’re going to need a backup who doesn’t mind being the backup. You’re going to need a backup who’s capable of being a starter when your starter is struggling. You’re also going to need someone who’s able to step into the game in the second or third period after Fleury your starter has given up four or five goals. Neuvirth can do all three of those things and more. He’s got a team-friendly contract, too. Only $2.5 million per year for the next two years. You’re not going to be able to sign a guy like Steve Mason to a contract like that.

My Top 3 Choices for you:
If you want a Forward: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
If you want a Defenseman: Andrew MacDonald
If you want a Goaltender: Michal Neuvirth

Hope this helps. I’ll see you in Vegas soon!


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