Carsen Twarynski
In a surprising move, the Seattle Kraken selected Carsen Twarynski from the Flyers in their expansion draft Wednesday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Carsen Twarynski Selected By Kraken From Flyers In Expansion Draft

In order for the Flyers to bring about the massive change they promised this offseason, priority number one was clearing cap space. The acquisition of Ryan Ellis from Nashville added to that urgency, as the Flyers added $3.7 million in cap between acquiring him and shipping out Phil Myers. The Seattle Kraken expansion draft appeared to be the easiest way to do that. Though players like James van Riemsdyk, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Jakub Voracek may be overpaid, they are also among the most talented players available to the Kraken. Surely Seattle would take the bait on one in a seemingly win-win transaction. Surely they would not take a random depth forward like Connor Bunnaman or German Rubtsov or Carsen Twarynski…

Oops.

The bigger story here is not who Seattle took from the Flyers, but who they did not take. First, however, we should discuss the man the Kraken selected. Carsen Twarynski was drafted in the third round of 2016 NHL Draft by the Flyers. He delivered a strong draft plus two season in 2017-18, scoring 72 points in 68 games for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Twarynski was a major standout at training camp in 2018, nearly making the Flyers straight out of junior. He delivered a decent first pro season, scoring 25 points in 69 AHL contests and after a second straight excellent training camp showing in 2019, Twarynski made the Flyers.

His NHL got off to a solid start. Twarynski handled the physicality of the NHL well early on, scoring his first goal on a snipe in his third game. But as time wore on, Twarynski’s game started to slip. He was sent to the AHL in November but briefly returned for one game in December. His AHL numbers did not take much of a leap, with 12 points in 31 games.

In 2020-21, Twarynski was scoreless in 7 NHL games and 2 AHL games. His underlying numbers in the AHL (5v5) were good; 54.05% Corsi (+7.43% Rel), 52.63% Scoring Chances For (+3.48% Rel). His NHL underlying numbers were not; 27.27% Corsi (904th out of 913 NHL players), 14.11% xGF (901st). They were much better as a rookie, but still below average (43.98% Corsi, 44.1% xGF). Twarynski is a physical winger who can be an effective forechecker and has the upside to be a very solid fourth-liner. He is not afraid to drop the gloves and by all accounts is well-liked by his teammates. I expect Seattle to start him in the AHL (though he would need to clear waives to get there), but he could stick in the NHL with another stand-out camp.

Losing Twarynski does not make the Flyers worse, which is the good news, but it does not give them space to improve either, as the team clears nearly zero cap space by losing Twarynski. Philadelphia has about $9.4 million in cap space, per CapFriendly; that accounts for thirteen forwards, five defensemen, and no goaltenders. For their needs, that number is simply not high enough.

Restricted free agents Travis Sanheim and Carter Hart will probably eat up about $7-7.5 million combined. With Philadelphia looking for a premium netminder to share the crease with Hart, $1.9 million probably will not be enough for the Flyers to secure the ideal backup goaltender. And even if it is enough, Philadelphia would probably prefer to make even more changes this offseason. Losing Myers opens up a hole on the right side the Flyers would like to fill. It would be great to see the Flyers add a dynamic, shoot-first winger or established third-line center, too. None of those moves are possible with what little cap space the Flyers currently have.

The expansion draft felt like Philadelphia’s best chance to jettison one of those big contracts to clear up cap space. However, it might be near impossible for the Flyers to trade van Riemsdyk, Voracek, or/and Gostisbehere without either bringing in salary or including prospects or/and draft picks to sweeten the pot. Of course, that is not the end of the world; for example, it still leaves open the Voracek-centered Vladimir Tarasenko trade every Flyers fan ever has Tweeted about over the last two weeks.

Check out our full expansion draft preview before the insiders leak all of the actual picks!

While not losing any of their expensive players hurts the Flyers’ cap flexibility (at least for the time being), you could argue it does open up flexibility in terms of how the Flyers move on from these players. Although after what seemed like a golden opportunity to make a big move slipped away, maybe the Flyers do not look to move on after all. But they will have to get more creative than ever if Chuck Fletcher and company want the Ellis trade to be the first of many big moves instead of them pushing all of their chips to the center of the table. Losing Carsen Twarynski instead of one of their highly paid big names ensures that.

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NHL Advanced Stats are 5v5, Score and Venue Adjusted, unless otherwise stated, and via Natural Stat Trick; AHL Advanced Stats are 5v5 and via PhancyStats; Salary Cap information via CapFriendly