Call it a Seattle surprise.
Instead of selecting one of the Flyers' bigger names in the expansion draft, the Kraken threw everyone a curveball Wednesday by taking 23-year-old prospect Carsen Twarynski.
Twarynski, a 2016 third-round draft pick, went scoreless in seven games last season and has played a total of 22 games for the Flyers in his career. He made the club's season-opening lineup in 2019-20 as a rookie and scored his lone NHL goal in his third career game.
"[Kraken general manager Ron Francis] and his group in Seattle have put a lot of time and effort into their preparation and with Carsen they have added a good, young piece to their team," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a statement released by the team. "Carsen is a hard-working player who has grown considerably in his four seasons since he was drafted in our organization. We wish nothing but the best for him in Seattle."
Twarynski is a restricted free agent this offseason, so he'll negotiate a new deal with the Kraken. He's coming off of his three-year entry-level contract, which had an average annual value of $925,000 ($775,833 cap hit), per CapFriendly.com.
Starting last Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, an NHL trade and waiver freeze went into effect. It will be lifted Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. Within that time period, teams can only make deals with Seattle.
The Kraken had the opportunity to snag one of the Flyers' high-profile players. Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk and Shayne Gostisbehere were among the most notable exposed by the Flyers. Voracek and van Riemsdyk were tied with Claude Giroux for the team lead in scoring last season (43 points), while Gostisbehere led Flyers defensemen in goals (nine), was second on the club in power play markers (five) and has a 65-point season on his résumé.
All three have larger cap hits: Voracek at $8.25 million, van Riemsdyk $7 million and Gostisbehere $4.5 million. When constructing their protected list, the Flyers clearly had a focus on potential cap relief in this critical offseason amid a flat-cap world.
Dave Hakstol is the first-ever bench boss of Seattle. Twarynski had a strong showing in the Flyers' 2018 training camp, when Hakstol was head coach of the club. The hard-working, north-south winger caught Hakstol's eye and had an extended run in camp, but did not make the final roster.
"I don't think it surprises. He's a player that didn't get a lot of fanfare coming into camp, but he's one of those guys that … I think the organization knows him very well," Hakstol said then in September 2018. "He's just earned everything day by day. Is he a guy that was circled two weeks ago that was a sure thing to be here or an odds-on favorite to be here? Maybe not, but he's earned it day by day.
"I like that he continues to do the simple things that have given him success so far. I've really liked his versatility going from right side to left side and not changing his game, not looking out of place playing his off wing, when you get into defensive situations or tight spots on the walls. There's a bunch of little things there that he's done that have earned him getting this far in camp."
Twarynski had an impressive camp in Alain Vigneault's first season and played in the 2019-20 season opener in Prague, Czech Republic.
"I've been through a lot of adversity though my hockey career," Twarynski said in September 2019. "Growing up, wasn't on any national teams or Alberta teams or provincial teams. I've always had to work my way up through the first year and develop and make a step to the big league the next year. It's nothing new to me."
The Flyers have the entry draft Friday and Saturday, while free agency opens next Wednesday. The club picks at 13th overall Friday. Per CapFriendly.com, the Flyers currently have a little under $9.5 million in cap space. The deadline to submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents is Monday of next week. Carter Hart, Travis Sanheim and Connor Bunnaman are the club's notable RFAs.
This story was updated at 8:46 p.m. ET when the pick became official.
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