By Wes Herrmann (@Wes_Herrm)
According to The Athletic’s Craig Custance and CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio, the Vegas Golden Knights have selected Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in tonight’s expansion draft from the Philadelphia Flyers. The pick and rest of the team will be announced officially during the NHL Awards Show tonight at 8 p.m.
Update: The Golden Knights officially chose Bellemare in the expansion draft.
Although a favorite of the organization, Bellemare was frequently lambasted by Flyers fans for his lack of production. In 237 games, the France native scored just 34 points. He had his worst year, statistically, this past season where he produced just eight points in 82 games.
Despite that, coach Dave Hakstol played Bellemare often, averaging close to 13 minutes a game. Flyers fans biggest complaint, though, was that Bellemare was held to lighter standards than the younger players and was never a healthy scratch, unlike Travis Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere. It didn’t seem to bother general manager Ron Hextall, who extended Bellemare to a two-year contract this past March.
That makes it unlikely that Hextall paid a draft pick or a prospect to have Vegas select Bellemare. He was clearly liked in the Philadelphia organization.
For the Golden Knights, the selection is an odd one. They could have had a middle-six winger in Michael Raffl or a fringe starter in Michal Neuvirth. It’s possible that they saw Bellemare’s leadership and figured it would be a nice add to a young team that will likely struggle next season.
For Bellemare, he loved playing in Philly and was brought to tears when he was given the alternate captain ‘A’ on his jersey this past year. He was overplayed, but to no fault of his own.
The move opens up $1.45 million in cap space for the Flyers over the next two seasons and there are players within the organization that can replace Bellemare. All-in-all, it’s one of the better outcomes that could have developed for the team with Vegas’s expansion choice.
However, the Flyers and Golden Knights may not be done talking yet. According to Matthew Sekeres of TSN 1040 AM, the teams have discussed a trade that would involve swapping draft picks.
It seems like a stretch since NHL insiders have reported that the Flyers are content with keeping the pick, but it may be something to keep an eye on as the NHL draft on Friday gets closer.
Image credit: Rich Lee/Flickr