Today, NHL teams released their protection lists for the Seattle Expansion Draft. As expected, there were some shocking revelations regarding how teams value players. It also revealed the strategy of many teams to expose good players with high cap hits with the hope of some relief in a flat cap world.
We know from the Vegas Expansion Draft a few seasons ago that NHL teams made a ton of side deals to prevent Vegas from taking specific players. Obviously, we aren’t privy to that information, though we can make some predictions (such as it’s highly likely Montreal has a deal in place to prevent Carey Price’s selection). With that in mind, here is who I think Seattle GM Ron Francis will select from each team.
Anaheim-D Haydn Fleury
There may be some other better options available (like Center Adam Henrique), but Francis selected Fleury in the 1st round a few years back. Fleury hasn’t really panned out and has struggled to fully find his way in the NHL. However, like most NHL GM’s, familiarity helps with belief in players and many GM’s believe that Fleury is still young enough to continue developing.
Arizona-W Christian Fischer
Arizona doesn’t have much to offer. Goaltender Antti Raanta is an option, but with the rumored selection and signing of Chris Dreidger, it seems unlikely the Kraken will select him. Injuries have also been a major struggle as of late. Fischer is a bottom-six forward at a relatively low cap number. He could easily be flipped or compete for a bottom-six role.
Boston-W Ondrej Kase
Kase was injured for most of last season, and it might be a surprise to some to see his name here for potential selection. However, when healthy, Kase can drive a line on his own and is a well-rounded offensive talent. The Kraken are rumored to be leaning heavily on analytics. If this is the case, then Kase makes sense for them here, especially because he can play in their top six.
Buffalo-D Colin Miller
Buffalo has a thin roster and didn’t give the Kraken a lot of options. The most likely is Colin Miller, who will have the unique opportunity of being selected twice by expansion teams, the first time in NHL history to my knowledge. Miller used to be an analytics darling, but has struggled a bit as of late. He could potentially be flipped if the Kraken decide not to keep him. The Kraken could also select Jake McCabe, a better second-pairing defensive defenseman, but he is a pending UFA, making him an unlikely selection.
Calgary-D Mark Giordano
Giordano is only a few seasons removed from a Norris Trophy win as the NHL’s top defenseman. However, the combination of his age and salary seem to be what has made him available to the Kraken. At 37, Giordano still has gas left in the tank. If the Kraken decide to keep him, he is a candidate to be the first captain in franchise history immediately.
Carolina-D Jake Bean
Another Francis draft pick, Bean excelled last season in his first tour of sem-full-time NHL duty. An offensive-minded defender, Bean has stellar underlying numbers and can quarterback a powerplay. He is an RFA in need of a new contract, but if selecting him the Kraken would retain his rights. Carolina has the assets to pull a side-deal and control who the Kraken select. That being said, Bean is likely a player Francis highly covets. He is a candidate for the Kraken’s top-four next season and has some potential as well.
Chicago-G Malcolm Subban
The Blackhawks are one of a handful of rebuilding teams that don’t have many players to expose. Veteran defender Calvin De Haan and forward Bretty Connolly are both available. However, they both have term on their contracts and are unlikely candidates to be flipped or stick on the main Kraken roster. The Kraken will need a number three goalie on their depth chart and Subban would be an option. He is barely an NHL back-up at this point in his career, but he is cheep ($850,000 cap hit), and solid teammate.
Colorado-W Jonas Donskoi
Another player with excellent analytics, Donskoi doesn’t put up high offensive numbers but he is a strong support player who can play a middle six role. He’s the type of player that will thrive in added minutes if given the opportunity and a perfect fit for the Kraken.
Columbus-C/W Max Domi
Columbus surprised many by exposing Domi, and with one year left on his contract at just over $5 million, he’s worth the risk for the Kraken. Domi has bounced around quite a bit the last few seasons and his offensive statistics have been extremely volatile. He may be energized by playing on a new team in a new rabid market. He can play a top-six role as well for the Kraken.
Dallas-W Adam Mascherin
Dallas convinced goalie Ben Bishop to waive his no-movement clause to be exposed in the Expansion Draft. However, Bishop has had insane injury issues the past few seasons and is unlikely to be selected. The Stars could take defenseman Andrej Sekera, though a $1.5 million cap hit for a borderline third-pairing defender with injury issues may not be worth the risk. At some point the Kraken will need a handful of prospects with some potential. Mascherin is an older prospect who has a history of high offensive numbers in any league he plays in. He may not make the NHL jump, but he’s at least worth a look given the small options available here.
Detroit-D Troy Stretcher
One of the most undervalued players in the NHL, Stretcher has had a solid NHL career, but always seems to be on the out from NHL GM’s due to his size and style of play. Surprisingly, Steve Yzerman left him unprotected and is a likely candidate for the Kraken. Stretcher also hails from just over the boarder in Vancouver. He’s a bargain cap wise and could be a second or third-pairing defender for the Kraken.
Edmonton-W Tyler Benson
The Oilers exposed a few players worth taking a look at, but the majority are overpaid (see Mikko Koskinen) or are unlikely to play because of injury (see Oscar Klefbom). This makes Benson, an older prospect with limited NHL experience, an option. Benson was once a highly touted prospect before injuries derailed his development fairly early. He still has bottom-six potential at the NHL level and could be a fringe NHL player as soon as next season.
Florida-G Chris Driedger
Dreidger has been the rumored target of the Kraken for a few weeks now. The 27 year-old has limited NHL experience but he dominated the NHL last season when healthy. He’s their potential starter next season.
Los Angeles-D Kale Clague
Clague, a once highly touted prospect, has struggled to find consistency at the pro level. He still has some offensive potential and could be a candidate for the third-pair, or as a seventh defender. Not many other choices available from LA, minus a handful of bottom-six forwards.
Minnesota-G Kaapo Kahkonen
The Wild chose to protect Cam Talbot, a somewhat surprising choice given the youth and talent of Kahkonen. He has number one goalie potential and could fight for the starting role immediately in Seattle.
Montreal-W Jonathan Drouin
The Canadiens had one of the more surprising exposure lists. Goaltender Carey Price was made available after a deep Stanley Cup run. However, he is unlikely to be selected based upon his age and contract ($10.5 million). Jonathan Drouin is an intriguing option, depending on his health situation. Drouin did not participate in the Canadiens’ playoff run, taking a leave of absence. The reason why has not been made to the public, so much of this selection will be based on what the Kraken are able to discover. When healthy ovearll, Drouin is a top-six forward.
Nashville-C Calle Jarnkork
Nashville had one of the strangest protection lists out there, choosing to protect five defensemen. They exposed both Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen, two names that were once household, but both have falle non hard times. Both Duchene and Johansen have term with a high cap hit and are unlikely targets for Seattle. Choosing to protect five defensemen has left a lot of other forwards available, including Calle Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok is a two-way forward who can play all three forward positions and move up and down the line-up with ease. At only $2 million, he has an excellent contract as well.
New Jersey-D Will Butcher
The Devils exposed P.K. Subban, but with a $9 million cap hit, he might be a bit expensive for his value at this stage in his career. They also left Will Butcher exposed, who I believe the Kraken could target. Butcher, an offensive-minded second pairing defender can run a powerplay and has played in all situations in New Jersey.
New York Islanders-W Jordan Eberle
Both Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle were made surprisingly available by the Islanders. Eberle is a bit better offensively and his name brings some credibility. He is still a top-six forward
New York Rangers-F Colin Blackwell
The Rangers didn’t leave many players exposed, though Blackwell is a decent bottom six forward who excelled on the Rangers’ last season. At only $725,000, Blackwell could easily be flipped for another asset.
Ottawa Senators-W Evgeni Dadonov
Ottawa made a few surprising protection choices. Exposing Dadonov, a top-six winger was more than a bit surprising. At $5 a year for two more seasons, Dadonov will immediately slot into the Kraken’s top six.
Philadelphia-C German Rubtsov
Yes, both Jakub Voracek and James Van Riemsdyk are available. Both players are over 30 with an over $7 million cap hit with term. Ron Francis has made it clear he values cap space this go around, and both these players would take up a ton of it. Shayne Gostisbhere is also available, but at $4.5, he might be a bit pricy for a potential third-pairing guy. The Kraken need some forwards with some potential. Rubtsov may have a little left, though he is an older prospect. Francis was rumored to be high on him in the past and may look to him for depth this season.
Pittsburgh-W Jason Zucker
My bias is I’ve always been a Jason Zucker fan, but I also think he fits well on a team like Seattle. Zucker is a tenacious forechecker who can score goals and has historically played with a ton of pace. He is also highly community-oriented and is known for his philanthropy. He is an overall excellent choice for a top-six forward for the Kraken.
San Jose-C Dylan Gambrell
A local boy, Gambrell was born in raised in Washington state. Gambrell, a former second-round pick, is a bottom-six forward who can kill penalties and is a cheap cap hit.
St.Louis-W Vlad Tarasenko
The biggest name on this mock draft, Tarasenko was once an elite goal-scorer who has had injury struggle the past few years. There are a lot of rumors Seattle selects him and moves him. Even if they don’t, Tarasenko is an option as a bounce-back elite talent. He has two years left at $7.5 a season.
Tampa Bay-C/W Yanni Gourde
The Lightning exposed quite a few solid forwards. The Lightning could take another Washington state native in Tyler Johnson (though he is likely available through other mediums after the draft based upon his cap hit). I think it’s most likely they select Yanni Gourde, who was excellent for Tampa in the playoffs. Gourde is a solid two-way forward who can play all three forward positions. He’s an excellent choice.
Toronto-C Alex Kerfoot
The Leafs decided to protect four defensemen, even after making a trade and exposing Jared McCann. Likely one of either Kerfoot or McCann are selected, though the rumor is Kerfoot is desired by the Kraken. Kerfoot is a middle-six forward with versatility. He can play in all situations and all three forward positions.
Vancouver-W Kole Lind
Another aging prospect who has struggled to find his way at the NHL level, Lind has shown flashes of offensive talent and ability. The Canucks didn’t leave the Kraken many options for selection, so a player like Lind makes a lot of sense.
Washington-D Brendan Dillon
The Capitals left two decent defenders available in both Justin Schultz and Brendan Dillon. Dillon has ties to Seattle, having played for their WHL franchise in the past. He is a defensive defender who can play on a second or third-pairing.
Winnipeg-C Mason Appleton
Appleton was supposedly almost traded before the roster freeze, meaning the Jets identified him as a likely option to be taken. Appleton was once highly touted as a potential top-six forward, but at this point in this NHL career looks like a bottom-six, two-way guy. He’s still young and is worth a look.
Potential Starting Roster
|Jason Zucker||Yanni Gourde||Vlad Tarasenko|
|Max Domi||Alex Kerfoot||Jordan Eberle|
|Evgeni Dadonov||Calle Jarnkrok||Jonathan Drouin|
|Joonas Donskoi||Dylan Gambrell||Ondrej Kase|
|Colin Blackwell||Christian Fischer|
|Mark Giordano||Troy Stretcher|
|Jake Bean||Colin Miller|
|Will Butcher||Brendan Dillon|
|Hadyn Fluery||Kale Clague|