With NHL expansion draft looming, who will Flyers protect?

With NHL expansion draft looming, who will Flyers protect?

The official lead-in to the NHL expansion draft begins Saturday at 5 p.m. — the deadline for clubs to submit their protected list for next Wednesday's draft.

At 10 a.m. Sunday, the NHL will release each club's protected list. The day prior to the draft, the Vegas Golden Knights will submit a list of which unprotected players they want to pluck from other teams.

The Flyers can go two ways with their protected list. They can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or choose to protect eight skaters and a goalie. General manager Ron Hextall said Friday he's going 7-3-1 (see story).

With that in mind, here's our list of who we think the club will protect:

3 defensemen

Shayne Gostisbehere
By re-signing him earlier, the Flyers eliminated the possibility of Vegas exercising its right to tender an RFA offer sheet to "Ghost," which would have forced the Flyers to match.

Radko Gudas
He was the most improved Flyer last season, finally identifying that fine line between legal and illegal hits and knowing when and where to deliver them. Gudas' 280 hits ranked third in the NHL.

Brandon Manning
Most heart of any Flyers defenseman and worked his way up from the eighth position to a starter. He would be a bargain at $975,000 if exposed, which is why he should be protected.

7 forwards

Brayden Schenn
Because of his salary — $5.1M — the Flyers might expose him and protect highly versatile Michael Raffl, but it's unlikely. Schenn has found a niche on the wing and shown consistent improvement each season with the Flyers. He tied for the NHL lead with 17 power-play goals.

Sean Couturier
Many around the league like his defense and $4.3 million with years left would make him attractive if exposed because his numbers are set. Valtteri Filppula's arrival gave him more space on the ice and Couturier finished a plus-12 — highest among all Flyers

Valtteri Filppula
He has a no-movement clause and has to be protected.

Claude Giroux
No-movement clause. His biggest challenge this season with the Flyers is to do what Sidney Crosby has done in Pittsburgh: elevate his linemates to become better, more productive players.

Wayne Simmonds
No-trade clause. Led the team in goal-scoring for the fourth straight season and finished one power-play goal behind Schenn. He has become a fixture at the net, making people forget about Scott Hartnell.

Jakub Voracek
He amassed 61 points but was capable of far better production, especially on the power play. Interesting that among the many lines in which coach Dave Hakstol used him, Voracek had his best production — 24 points — with Giroux and Raffl.

Jordan Weal
As a UFA, he would be attractive fodder for Vegas in free agency. Weal's agent, J.P. Barry, said he has agreed on the length of contract with the Flyers, but not salary. Weal needs to be protected … unless Hextall has an agreement in place that Weal will sign after the expansion draft. If that is the case, then the Flyers would likely choose to protect Raffl and expose Weal.

1 goalie

Michal Neuvirth
Still a bargain at $2.5 million and could be so much more if he ever had a full healthy NHL season. A year ago, it would have seemed logical for the Flyers to protect young Anthony Stolarz. Yet, it's pretty obvious, by now, that the Flyers don't see him as the future No. 1. Also, Anthony Stolarz had significant offseason knee surgery, which would scare Vegas away.

That's our list. We'll know Sunday how it compares to what Hextall submitted to the league.

NHL Notes: Blues lose Patrik Berglund until December after shoulder surgery

NHL Notes: Blues lose Patrik Berglund until December after shoulder surgery

ST. LOUIS -- Blues center Patrik Berglund is expected to be out until December after having surgery to repair a dislocated left shoulder.

The Blues say Berglund was injured during an offseason conditioning program in Sweden and flew to St. Louis for Tuesday's procedure. The team called it a successful surgery.

The 29-year-old Berglund scored a career-high 23 goals and finished with 34 points in 2016-17, adding four assists in 11 playoff games.

Berglund has spent his entire nine-year NHL career with the Blues, scoring 296 points in 637 regular-season games.

St. Louis fell to Nashville in the second round of the playoffs last season.

Worker dies after fall from Red Wings' new arena
DETROIT -- A worker has died after falling 75 feet (23 meters) at the Little Caesars Arena worksite north of downtown Detroit.

Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner David Fornell says the 46-year-old man was in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived about 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Other workers had started cardiopulmonary resuscitation which first responders continued. The man was taken to a Detroit hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Fornell says officials were told the man was an electrical worker and may have fallen from a catwalk. He says the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration likely will investigate.

The arena will be home to the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and the NBA's Pistons. It is scheduled to open this fall.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Brian Elliott

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Brian Elliott

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Brian Elliott
Age: 32
Height: 6-2
Weight: 209
Last team: Calgary Flames
2016-17 cap hit: $2.5 million

Scouting report
Drafted in the ninth round (291st overall) of the loaded 2003 draft by the Ottawa Senators, Elliott didn’t find much success in the NHL until he wound up in St. Louis in 2011-12.

Elliott joined Ottawa full time in January of the 2008-09 season and played his way into splitting goaltending duties with Alex Auld. In 2009-10, he was 29-18-4 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. He was traded to Colorado at the 2010-11 trade deadline for Craig Anderson. He played just 12 games for the Avalanche.

After Colorado declined to qualify him, Elliott signed a one-year deal with the Blues in 2011. He shared the net with Jaroslav Halak and ended up having his best season in the league. In 2011-12, Elliott was 23-10-4 with a 1.56 GAA and .922 save percentage.

He was an All-Star in 2011-12, too. He ended up playing four more seasons in St. Louis, but the Blues eventually moved on from him with the emergence of Jake Allen. The Blues traded him to the Flames at the 2016 draft but lasted just one season in Calgary.

Last season, Elliott struggled with the Flames before being relegated to the team’s backup. He eventually did regain the No. 1 job but didn’t do enough to please the Flames’ front office. He was 26-18-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.

Dougherty's projection
Elliott is one of the options on the market that I think would fit well with what the Flyers are looking for, and that is a proven veteran who has shown he can be a part of a tandem.

I know he didn’t pan out in Calgary and missed his opportunity at a big payout, which could very well could be his final chance to get a decent contract. I was a fan of him in St. Louis, especially when paired with Allen and Halak. I think he’s a good tandem goalie.

Financially, I think he’ll be a fit. I don’t see him getting much of a raise from his $2.5 million cap hit he carried on his previous contract. And I don’t think this goalie market is going to drive that price up, either. There aren’t many teams in the market for goalies.

So for what he’ll cost — probably in the $2.5 million range, maybe a little more — Elliott would be a solid option for the Flyers, but he may find more opportunity in Winnipeg, which reportedly is looking for a veteran goalie to pair with Connor Hellebuyck, 24.

I would imagine an Elliott-Michal Neuvirth pair would certainly give enough stability in net for the Flyers to compete next season and creep back into the playoffs.

For the Flyers, Elliott is an attractive option and one they’ll likely reach out to. Whether he comes to Philadelphia is something we’ll find out soon enough.

I still feel Jonathan Bernier is the early favorite but Elliott would make for a good signing.

At the right price, of course.

Hall's projection
Elliott fits the Flyers' plans here.
 
He's a 32-year-old veteran that has backed up and split time in net for much of his nine seasons in the NHL. At this stage of his career, he might not be looking for much more — he would likely be open to a cost-efficient deal in the ballpark of two years, as he's never had a higher average annual value than $2,500,000.
 
Ever since joining the Blues in 2011-12, Elliott has been pretty darn good. His 2.55 goals-against average with the Flames last season was his worst since 2010-11, which shows you his reliability. He also has a relatively clean health history, he's proven to be durable and also owns plenty of experience, including 41 postseason appearances.
 
This just makes a lot of sense for the Flyers and their current state. Elliott helps now and shouldn't block the future.

Paone's projection
The thought of Elliott in net for the Flyers next season makes sense for a few reasons.

First, he fits the mold of what RonnHextall and his staff are looking for. They want a netminder with some experience who can be trusted to step in and carry stretches of work if needed. Elliott has the experience and he's played long stretches during his time in both St. Louis and Calgary. And with Neuvrith's injury history, the Flyers could very well need someone to step in for long stretches. So check that box off.

Second, he'll come at the right price for Hextall and the Flyers' brass after a tough season in Calgary. His season fizzled after the Flames gave him the chance to be the No. 1 guy on a talented team. But the reality is that lowered the price and will likely land Elliott a shorter-term deal, both of which can only pique the Flyers' interest some more. Check both those boxes off.

Third, Neuvirth would be a clear No. 1 option ahead of Elliott. That's not meant to slight Elliott, but, if you ask me, Neuvirth is the better of the two. I'm not the biggest supporter of full-on platoons because I feel confidence is of the utmost importance for a goalie and it's so much easier to be confident and get in a groove when a goalie doesn't have to constantly look over his shoulder. And that would be the case here as Neuvirth would be the guy in that situation.

Yes, Elliott's best seasons came behind a sturdy St. Louis defense that featured the likes of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, among others. And while he may not be the sexiest option on the market, he is a sensible option for the Flyers.