Expansion Draft Mindset: Revisiting JvR and Voracek, Flyers Keepers Edition

With the Seattle Kraken expansion draft five months away, there is more and more talk about who the Flyers may protect or expose. Before the season started, my guy Derrik wrote two articles on James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek regarding what the Flyers should do with them when the expansion draft comes. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you definitely should!

Before the season started, it was a mutual consensus among Flyers fans that JvR was the frontrunner to being the big name player that Chuck Fletcher would expose to Seattle in the expansion draft. With Voracek, fans seemed to be split between protecting or exposing him this summer – we all know how Voracek feels about it. Voracek and JvR are two completely different players, but they bring a lot of similar aspects to the game that Flyers are still in need of. 

Both at 31 years of age, Voracek and van Riemsdyk are still producing for their club. With 15 games played this season, JvR has produced 21 points, leading the team in goals while Voracek has produced just one point shy of being a point per game player with 12 points. JvR is currently tied for seventh in points among the NHL with Quinn Hughes and Anze Kopitar. Is it possible that he is making a case for the Flyers front office to consider protecting him for the expansion draft this offseason ? Let’s take a look.

The Most Consistent Player

Night in and night out, the van Riemsdyk name is heard the most out of the entire Flyers roster. This is all while he is playing limited third line minutes on a line with Scott Laughton and Joel Farabee. The play of van Riemsdyk has elevated his linemates’ production along with his own. Even if he isn’t putting the puck in the net, he’s finding ways to create opportunities for those around him.

Once again, the Flyers have another sub-par powerplay conversion, but JvR is still finding ways to put the puck in the net as he leads the team with six powerplay goals. He is also leading the team in powerplay points, overall points, goals (tied with Joel Farabee), assists and surprisingly face-off percentage. 

Before the New York Rangers game on February 18th, van Riemsdyk was riding a seven game point streak and showing no signs of slowing down. After being blanked by the Rangers, JvR picked up right where he left off against the Bruins collecting three more points. This is the James that Flyers fans were expecting to see when Ron Hextall inked him as a free agent in 2018. 

Due to COVID-19 protocol and his play, van Riemsdyk is finding himself playing first line minutes alongside Sean Couturier. Getting a promotion from the third line could be exactly what JvR could use to keep on producing at a more consistent pace. Even when players return from COVID-19 protocol, James should remain playing those first line minutes. 

Jakub Who-acek?

#93 for the Orange and Black has played decently this season. Registering 12 points in 13 games is something that doesn’t go unnoticed. Out of those 13 games, Voracek was kept off the scoresheet in four of them. Voracek has missed the past couple weeks due to being placed in Covid-19 protocol, but he still remains among the top five in point producers for this team. 

The most infuriating part of Voracek’s game is his pass first mentality when there would be better opportunities for him to shoot the puck. There have been too many times that he is flying down the wing creating a two-on-one opportunity and decides to pass, even when the defenseman gives him the shot option. Let’s not go into the advanced stats of things, because that’s no fun and no one would understand what was being said anyway.

The purpose of bringing Voracek to Philadelphia in 2011 was to bring in a winger to score goals. Jake has done that since coming to Philly, but never plateauing the 25 goal mark. In his ten years being a Flyer, he has posted seven 20 goal seasons. That is not to be ignored, but if you’re being depended on to be the first line scoring winger, you should be posting more than 25 goals a season. 

Voracek has been demoted to the bottom six and has seen less ice time a couple times during his career. Demotions for Voracek tend to work more often than not to get him back on his game. When he comes back from COVID-19 protocol, he should see middle six minutes to allow for the players that are still producing the earned ice time. 

Protection Decision?

Both players carry terrible contracts with Voracek at $8.25m/year and JvR at $7m/year. The cap hits for both wingers should be appetizing for Seattle Kraken General Manager Ron Francis as he looks to fill up his cap space. If you scanned over the first two keeper pieces done on these two players, you would know that Voracek is signed through the 2024 season and JvR is signed through the 2023 season. 

The difference in contract amount isn’t going to sway Chuck Fletcher’s mind considering how close they are monetary wise. The contract longevity could be the deciding factor for Chuck since the next couple of seasons might be ruled as “flat cap”. Having JvR’s contract on file through 2023 would make a lot more sense for the Flyer from a management perspective.

From a coaching perspective, you’re going to want the player that is going to be producing points that coincides with the money they are being paid to do so. With the way that van Riemsdyk has been playing, the Flyers fans that pretend to be general managers might want to reconsider their initial thoughts of exposing him to the Seattle Kraken. Can Voracek convince Chuck and company otherwise and pick up his game to remain protected? You make the call. 

Photo Credit – Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire

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