The announcement was unexpected. On Thursday, the Seattle Kraken officially named Dave Hakstol as their organization’s first head coach.
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) June 24, 2021
Hakstol, 52, has spent the last two seasons working as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before that, of course, he served as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers for three and a half seasons.
With the Kraken getting set to stock their roster at next month’s expansion draft, Hakstol is very familiar with two Flyers players who could be left unprotected.
Expansion Draft Details
The rules for Seattle’s expansion draft are the same as they were for Vegas four years ago. Teams are allowed to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters in total from any position. Players with no-movement clauses cannot be exposed unless they give specific permission.
CapFriendly has a handy expansion draft simulator, which allows users to see which players require protection and who might be left exposed on each team.
For the Flyers, Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes each have no-movement clauses, so they’ll take up two of the protected slots. In goal, Carter Hart will almost certainly be protected while Felix Sandstrom is exposed.
Beyond that, here’s the list of players who could be exposed to Seattle, in descending order of their cap hits:
- Jakub Voracek
- James van Riemsdyk
- Travis Konecny
- Sean Couturier
- Scott Laughton
- Oskar Lindblom
- Nicolas Aube-Kubel
- Nolan Patrick
- Ivan Provorov
- Shayne Gostisbehere
- Philippe Myers
- Justin Braun
- Robert Hagg
- Travis Sanheim
If the Flyers go the 7-and-3 route, they’d leave three forwards and three defensemen from these lists exposed. And there has been plenty of speculation that Chuck Fletcher may choose to make some of his more expensive players available, to help free up salary-cap space for other acquisitions.
The Case For JVR
With two years remaining at $7 million per season, James van Riemsdyk’s name has been bandied about for potential exposure. But JVR had a pretty good season last year. He played all 56 games, averaged nearly two minutes more per game than what he played in 2019-20. And while tying with Giroux and Jakub Voracek for the team scoring lead with 43 points, his 0.77 points per game were the highest of his entire career.
Like many Flyers players this season, van Riemsdyk started well but saw his production drop off after the team’s Covid pause. With all the talk that the Flyers are looking for a scoring winger to boost their offense, they’d be wise to hang onto the one they have.
Hakstol’s past history with van Riemsdyk is brief, but significant. He was still at the helm when general manager Ron Hextall signed the big winger to his five-year, $35-million free-agent deal on July 1, 2018.
During the second game of the 2018-19 season, van Riemsdyk suffered a lower-body injury that caused him to miss 16 games. All told, he suited up for just 16 games before Hakstol was dismissed in mid-December, recording four goals and five assists.
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The Case For Jake
Next, there’s Jakub Voracek, who has three years left on a contact that carries a cap hit of $8.25 million a year. That extension was signed during the summer of 2015, just as Hakstol was taking over, and as Voracek was coming off an 81-point season that tied him with Alex Ovechkin for fourth overall in a low-scoring year around the NHL, which saw Jamie Benn win the Art Ross Trophy with 87 points.
Three years later, under Hakstol, Voracek recorded a personal best with 85 points in 82 games. But league wide, the bar had been raised. He finishd a tie for 13th in league scoring, with Mat Barzal of the New York Islanders and Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins.
Under Hakstol, Voracek was second in total points (226), points per game (0.84) and total ice time (5,113:17). The two men know each other well, and Voracek had success under Hakstol.
The Case For Ghost
Turning to defense, Shayne Gostisbehere finished third in total ice time (5,107:25) during Hakstol’s tenure. One month in, the coach gave Gostibehere his chance to become a full-time NHLer after he was called up from the AHL.
On the offensive side of the puck, Gostisbehere made an impact immediately. By season’s end, he had 17 goals and 46 points in 64 games. He finished as runner-up to Artemi Panarin in 2016 Calder Trophy voting for rookie of the year.
After going through a bit of a sophomore slump, with just 39 points in 76 games in 2016-17, Gostisbehere signed a six-year contract with a cap hit of $4.5 million per season.
His career year came in Hakstol’s last full season in Philadelphia. In 2017-18, Gostisbehere put up 13 goals and 65 points. He was fourth in scoring among NHL defensemen.
The Fletcher/Vigneault era has not been as kind to Gostisbehere. He dealt with knee issues in 2019-20 and has been in and out of the lineup at times. He even cleared waivers last March. That would certainly suggest he’s a likely candidate for exposure.
Gostisbehere finished last season with an impressive nine goals in 41 games. But with just 11 assists, he had 0.49 points per game. That was an improvement from 2019-20, but still below his career average of 0.57.
Hakstol believed in him when many were skeptical that his college success might not translate to the NHL. At 28, Gostisbehere has a reasonable two years remaining on his contract, and could still have some productive years ahead.
That package could look very appealing when it’s time for the Kraken to announce who they’ll be claiming from Philadelphia on July 21.