Answering some Twitter questions along the Flyers beat:
Question submitted by @EastVanPhilly1: The Flyers have shown improvement but are a bit of a ways from being true contenders for the Stanley Cup. What is the Flyers' “window” in your opinion and which core veteran or youth player might be moved in a trade to speed the process along?
The “window,” I believe, will stay open for a long time because Carter Hart just turned 22 and has the potential to turn into the league’s best goalie. And goalies, as you know, are the biggest factors in winning a Cup. The Flyers have a good supporting cast, and even though Claude Giroux and Matt Niskanen are past their primes, there is enough overall depth to withstand their expected drop-offs.
As for which players they may deal, Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk will be shopped, and this may be a good year for the Flyers to deal their first-round pick if they can package it in a trade for a sniper.
Question submitted by @Mrxboyd: The Flyers have two tough contracts, Jake and JVR. Is there a chance they move one or both?
Jake Voracek had a solid season (56 points, career-best plus-14) and I don’t think they’d move him unless they got a younger, high-scoring forward. Van Riemsdyk is much more likely to be dealt, though his contract will make it tough.
Question submitted by @jdgroh: “… Is it too early for you to guess which Flyers may be exposed in the expansion draft?”
Before answering, let’s look at the 2021 expansion setup. The Flyers figure to use the option where they protect 11 players (must be seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie).
Giroux and Kevin Hayes have no-movement clauses and must be protected. That leaves five forwards who need to be protected. Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny are locks. Voracek will probably be protected, though the Flyers may gamble that Seattle doesn’t want to absorb his big salary -- he currently has four years left on a deal that has an annual $8.25 million cap hit -- and leave him available so they can protect another player.
That would leave van Riemsdyk, blossoming Scott Laughton and Voracek. Only one can be protected.
That figures to be determined by how they perform in 2020-21.
If he is not traded, Van Riemsdyk, who has three years left on a contract that has an annual $7 million cap hit, will almost definitely be available to Seattle. The Voracek-or-Laughton question will probably be answered by their 2020-21 performance.
General manager Chuck Fletcher might also try to trade Voracek or Laughton for a draft pick so he doesn’t lose one of them and get nothing in return in the expansion draft.
It should be noted that Morgan Frost and Joel Farabee don’t have to be protected because first- and second-year NHL players are exempt from the draft.
Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim,and Phil Myers should be the defensemen protected, along with (duh) Hart.
To answer your question: If trades aren’t made, Robert Hagg, van Riemsdyk, Gostisbehere, and either Laughton or Voracek will be available to Seattle, I believe.
Question submitted by @afern_alex: "Give me breakdown of your perfect offseason?
Acquire or sign a big scorer like Patrik Laine, Mike Hoffman, or Evgenii Dadonov. Re-sign Brian Elliott as the backup. Deal a veteran like van Riemsdyk (and his hefty contract) for a fairly high draft pick. Van Riemsdyk struggled in the postseason, but he had 19 goals and 40 points in 66 regular-season games, and had 27 goals in 66 games the previous year. He can still be a valuable player.
Question submitted by @HalloweenGuy36: "What are the chances that Flyers management pulls the trigger on at least one big move in the offseason?
Less than 50-50, based on what Fletcher has said. Or maybe he’s just playing poker and doesn’t want to seem desperate to other GMs. From here, they need to make a big push for a scorer, whether it’s via a trade or free agency (see above). The flat salary cap, however, won’t make any trade or signing easy.
Question submitted by @flyboy27nl: If you had to move a defenseman not named Ghost for a forward, who would you move?
Probably Sanheim because a righthanded defenseman like Phil Myers would be tougher to replace. I wouldn’t want to trade Sanheim -- his game is growing -- but if he can be included as part of a deal for, say, Laine, you may have to pull the trigger.
Question by @Hagmann1: If the season started tomorrow and we signed and traded for no one, what would be our top four lines and top 3 D pairings?
Well, assuming Lindblom and Patrick are healthy, my guess is listed below. If, say, Patrick doesn’t return, Frost would fit into the lineup:
Line 1: Couturier centering Lindblom and Konecny.
Line 2: Hayes centering Giroux and Voracek.
Line 3: Patrick centering van Riemsdyk and Farabee.
Line 4: Laughton centering Michael Raffl and Nic Aube-Kubel.
Defense: Provorov and Niskanen; Sanheim and Myers; Gostisbehere and Hagg.
Question submitted by @GaryStachowicz: Is this year considered a good year for draft prospects (deep in talent) and, if so, would the Flyers be looking to move up in position?
The top 10 is strong, scouts say, but then there is a drop-off. As mentioned above, the Flyers might be willing to trade their pick (No. 23 overall) if it lands them the right forward.
Question submitted by @major78: Will Sam Morin have to go through waivers to play for the Phantoms? If so, do you think another team will claim him?
He would have to go through waivers. I don’t think another team would claim him because he still has a long road back from surgery for his second torn ACL in his right knee. He has a great attitude, and he is working hard in his rehab.
Question submitted by @AllegerDavid: "Thoughts on the assistant coaches staying on? Both have been huge additions and the team has shown significant improvement. But the PP going south at such a crucial time for the playoffs, you’d think there’d be some pressure on [Michel] Therrien just as much as AV put on the star players.
Therrien is close with Alain Vigneault and I’d be shocked if he was let go. He should be judged on his whole body of work, and the power play made nice strides (14th in NHL at 20.8%, compared with 22nd at 17.1% the previous season) in the regular season. Mike Yeo, who did a nice job directing the penalty kill, will be back if he isn’t hired as a head coach somewhere else.