The Flyers surprisingly lost Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, one of their alternate captains, to the Vegas Golden Knights in Wednesday's expansion draft.

Vegas, which chose one player from each of the 30 teams, liked the little Frenchman's tenacious defensive style and strong play on the penalty kill.

"Vegas obviously did their homework, and they have themselves a good player," general manager Ron Hextall said. "Pierre-Edouard is a character member of our organization and he'll be missed."

Bellemare, 32, was a fourth-line center, a penalty killer, and a locker-room leader with the Flyers. Bellemare, who spent three years with the Flyers, was named an alternate captain after Mark Streit was traded to Tampa Bay late last season.

"Belly," coach Dave Hakstol said at the time, "embodies all the characteristics and traits of a Flyer."

With Bellemare no longer on the team, Scott Laughton and rookie Mike Vecchione probably will battle for the Flyers' fourth-line center spot in training camp. Both are restricted free agents.

Vecchione, 24, who was signed as a free agent in March, starred at Union College and was a finalist last season for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the nation's top college player. He had 29 goals and 63 points in 38 games with Union last season.

Laughton, the Flyers' No. 1 pick (20th overall) in the 2012 draft, spent most of last season with the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms, where he improved his defense and had 19 goals, 20 assists, and a team-best plus-17 rating in 60 games.

Laughton, 23, "became a much more well-rounded player," Hextall said after the season, referring to Laughton's play following his demotion to the Phantoms. "Scotty understands the role that suits him and his strengths. He used his speed better and became a much more consistent player."

As for Bellemare's role as alternate captain, Jake Voracek is among the candidates to fill that spot and wear the "A." Wayne Simmonds is one of the Flyers' alternates, and Claude Giroux is the captain.

Bellemare had four goals, four assists and a minus-1 rating last season, and he was named the Flyers' Masterton Trophy nominee. The Masterton is presented each year to the player who "best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication."

Raised in Paris, Bellemare, at age 29, became the ninth France-born player reach the NHL when he earned a roster spot in 2014.

It had been expected that Vegas would pick left winger Michael Raffl or goalie Michal Neuvirth from the Flyers. With Neuvirth staying, he remains the Flyers' top goalie under contract.

Vegas had a 72-hour window to negotiate with free agents, such as Jordan Weal. But the Golden Knights weren't able to sign Weal, who had eight goals in his last 19 games with the Flyers last season. Weal's agent, J.P. Barry, said the Flyers are "absolutely still a strong option" for the 25-year-old winger.

Barry said he would continue to have conversations with Hextall and noted that "others can also interview him next week."

Weal had 47 points in 43 games with the Phantoms last season before being promoted to the Flyers.