Today is a monumental today for the NHL. After much anticipation, the NHL welcomed the Seattle Kraken as their 32nd Franchise. This means the Kraken can now officially do business. They can sign players (such as college and European free agents), negotiate future trades, and are likely to hire a coach very soon.
There has been much speculation regarding who the Kraken may take in the Expansion Draft. In particular, the Kraken have the most valuable commodity of any team in the NHL: cap space. With the NHL cap unlikely to go up for the next few seasons, teams will be lining up to unload bad contracts or just to clear space to resign their own free agents or dip their feet in the market. The Kraken are likely to receive a high number of draft picks (just like Vegas did) as a form of compensation for taking on contracts.
Now that the team is NHL official, I’ve begun to speculate who may, in fact, be on the Kraken for opening night. I did not factor in potential trades or draft pick compensation at this point, but just who may be available for the taking when the Expansion Draft takes place in less than 100 days. Thanks to the capfriendly.com expansion draft tool, I was able to run a number of simulations. Here is what I think will be the closest to the Kraken opening night roster based upon who teams may expose in the Expansion Draft.
- Anton Khudobin (Dallas Stars)
- Brayden Holtby (Vancouver Canucks)
- Matiss Kivlenieks (Columbus Blue Jackets)
The Kraken will have a number of options at goalie. Anton Khudobin would be an excellent choice. Khudobin led the Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup Final last season. He also has an infectious personality, an attribute that would go well in a new NHL market. Holtby makes a lot for a back-up, but he has only one year left on his contract and could provide some depth. Kivlenikes, a Columbus prospect, has NHL potential and would round out the goaltending depth nicely here.
- P.K. Subban (New Jersey Devils)
- Matt Dumba (Minnesota Wild)
- Christopher Tanev (Calgary Flames)
- Devon Toews (Colorado Avalanche)
- Colin Miller (Buffalo Sabres)
- Justin Holl (Toronto Maple Leafs)
- Vince Dunn (St.Louis Blues)
- Jake Bean (Carolina Hurricanes)
- Victor Mete (Ottawa Senators)
- Matt Roy (Los Angeles Kings)
Defense is the position that the Kraken will have the best opportunity to choose skill from. While it’s unlikely the Wild would expose Matt Dumba, something has to give with Minnesota’s deep blue-line. P.K. Subban has struggled the past few seasons, but his combination of personality and personal brand would give a huge boost to the Kraken franchise and the city of Seattle.
Devon Toews and Justin Holl are high-underrated defenders who would round out a solid top six. Jake Bean and Vince Dunn are also intriguing options. Both players have offensive upside. It’s likely the Kraken will do some wheeling and dealing here, but there are some real potential gems and the ability for the team to have some strong depth immediately.
- Adam Henrique (Anaheim Ducks)
- Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay)
- Craig Smith (Boston Bruins)
- Jared McCann (Pittsburgh Penguins)
- Adam Lowry (Winnipeg Jets)
- Sam Bennett (Florida Panthers)
- Artturi Lehkonen (Montreal Canadiens)
- Calle Jarnkrok (Nashville Predators)
- Johan Larsson (Arizona Coyotes)
- Ryan Carpenter (Chicago Blackhawks)
- Adam Erne (Detroit Redwings)
- German Rubtsov (Philadelphia Flyers)
- Brett Howden (New York Rangers)
- Tyler Benson (Edmonton Oilers)
- Daniel Sprong (Washington Capitals)
- Josh Ho-Sang (New York Islanders)
- Dylan Gambrell (San Jose Sharks)
At forward, the Kraken will have a difficult time acquiring premier talent via the Expansion Draft alone. The Kraken will have the ability to take Washington natives Dylan Gambrell and Tyler Johnson. Otherwise, there is some depth but that’s about it. Craig Smith, an underrated goal-scorer currently on Boston is a strong option, as is Anaheim Ducks’ center Adam Henrique.
Pittsburgh’s Jared McCann has had a decent season and could find himself in a top-six role if chosen. Unproven older prospects such as Tyler Benson, German Rubtsov and Josh Ho-Sang could be potential boom-or-bust selections. This position by far has the lowest depth of any in the draft and will likely need to be addressed via trade.
The Seattle Kraken will have the opportunity to exploit salary cap issues of other teams and also have the opportunity to create a potential playoff bubble team through depth on defense primarily. While their potential forward crop leaves a lot to be desired, the Kraken will still put forth a competitive roster next season.