The Seattle Kraken are in the process of building out their roster as the 32nd franchise in the National Hockey League. General manager Ron Francis and Co. will announce the team’s 2021 NHL Expansion Draft selections on Wednesday.
Man, do they have some exciting decisions to make.
Many claim the Vegas Golden Knights’ success was handed to them on a silver platter; not only is that inaccurate considering the state of the lineup on opening night, but there is no comparison between the players available to Vegas four years ago and the players available to Seattle today.
In fact, the amount of talent left exposed and unprotected by teams throughout the league is staggering.
The Knights are exempt from the draft, but the other 30 teams submitted protection lists featuring either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters and one goalie; the lists were officially revealed Sunday morning.
Seattle will choose one player from each team, and Francis has an exclusive window to speak to any unrestricted free agents who were left unprotected.
It has been widely reported that the Kraken are in the midst of finalizing a deal with Florida Panthers netminder and pending UFA Chris Driedger; if that comes to fruition, Driedger will count as Seattle’s selection from the Panthers. The Knights made a similar move when they signed Deryk Engelland from Calgary back in 2017.
Largely influenced by the flat salary cap situation, many teams chose not to protect players on expensive and long-term contracts, regardless of talent or value.
This leaves Seattle with the potential to ice an All-Star lineup if it so chooses.
It will be difficult for the Kraken to come away from this without a lot of talent, something Vegas couldn’t necessarily say for the 2017-18 season.
In the spirit of the occasion, we at Knights On Ice conducted our own Seattle Kraken mock expansion drafts. Here are our results.
Expansion draft selections
Protected: Jakob Silfverberg (F), Rickard Rakell (F), Isaac Lundestrom (F), Sam Steel (F), Max Jones (F), Troy Terry (F), Nicolas Deslauriers (F), Cam Fowler (D), Hampus Lindholm (D), Josh Manson (D), John Gibson (G)
Danny — Haydn Fleury, D
Sonny Milano is a decent player and could be a top-nine option Day 1, but Fleury has upside and a similarly-enticing contract situation; he hits restricted free agency next summer while carrying a cap hit of just $1.3 million.
Justin — Haydn Fleury, D
He’s a cheap defenseman with RFA control after this season.
Jillian — Haydn Fleury, D
Though Sonny Milano would be an interesting choice and has a ton of skill, it came down to Alexander Volkov and Fleury. In the end, the inexpensive young defenseman won out. The former Hurricanes defenseman — drafted by Francis himself — may not be the next Shea Theodore, but there’s plenty of promise and upside in his game.
Protected: Phil Kessel (F), Clayton Keller (F), Nick Schmaltz (F), Christian Dvorak (F), Lawson Crouse (F), Conor Garland (F), Johan Larsson (F), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D), Jakob Chychrun (D), Kyle Capobianco (D), Darcy Kuemper (G)
Danny — Christian Fischer, F
A bit of a reclamation project, Fischer (like most of Arizona’s young players) hasn’t produced to the Coyotes’ liking. But, like Fleury, he’s a cheap option with RFA control in 2022. Whether he contributes at the NHL level, or is more suited for the AHL, is another discussion.
Justin — Christian Fischer, F
The underlying numbers look good even if he hasn’t provided the scoring results.
Jillian — Michael Bunting, F
This is an unrealistic pick, but Bunting was very impressive for the Coyotes last season with 10 goals in 21 games and could be an interesting bottom-six choice. Christian Fischer is the likely selection out of Arizona, but Bunting (and Dryden Hunt to a lesser extent) had very strong numbers in roughly 20 games last year.
Protected: Patrice Bergeron (F), Brad Marchand (F), Charlie Coyle (F), David Pastrnak (F), Craig Smith (F), Jake DeBrusk (F), Trent Frederic (F), Charlie McAvoy (D), Matt Grzelcyk (D), Brandon Carlo (D), Daniel Vladar (G)
Danny — Jeremy Lauzon, D
It came down to Lauzon or Connor Clifton, both young defensemen with solid upside. Lauzon is younger and will enter restricted free agency one year earlier than Clifton, but I like Lauzon’s offensive upside a tad more.
Justin — Jeremy Lauzon, D
I would have loved DeBrusk here, but alas, Lauzon is a young defenseman who held his own on the second pair.
Jillian — Connor Clifton, D
Clifton has two years remaining on a deal that carries an AAV of just $1 million. He’s a 26-year-old right-shot defenseman who would be a solid bottom-four option or a great trade piece considering his upside and contract.
Protected: Jack Eichel (F), Sam Reinhart (F), Victor Olofsson (F), Casey Mittelstadt (F), Tage Thompson (F), Anders Bjork (F), Rasmus Asplund (F), Rasmus Dahlin (D), Rasmus Ristolainen (D), Henri Jokiharju (D), Linus Ullmark (G)
Danny — Colin Miller, D
Could we just skip Buffalo’s spot?
Justin — Cody Eakin, F
There is not much here, so why not go with someone who has expansion experience?
Jillian — Colin Miller, D
This worked out last time, right? It came down to Miller and William Borgen; while Miller has a $3.875 million cap hit for one year, his offensive game, ability to run a power play and experience with Vegas were appealing factors.
Protected: Matthew Tkachuk (F), Elias Lindholm (F), Johnny Gaudreau (F), Sean Monahan (F), Mikael Backlund (F), Andrew Mangiapane (F), Dillon Dube (F), Noah Hanifin (D), Rasmus Andersson (D), Chris Tanev (D), Jacob Markstrom (G)
Danny — Mark Giordano, D
All reports point to Seattle picking the former Norris Trophy winner. It doesn’t hurt he enters the final year of his deal, but the selections to this point have made it possible for Seattle to take big contracts; this one is no exception.
Justin — Josh Leivo, F
Leivo has always been able to generate some offense, and the pending UFA could bounce back offensively.
Jillian — Mark Giordano, D
Giordano will be 38 when the 2021-22 season begins, but he’s a veteran presence on and off the ice and is two years removed from winning the Norris Trophy. His $6.75 million AAV is a bit steep, but the contract expires at the end of 2021-22; if he has a strong year, Seattle can flip him at the deadline and retain salary for a strong return. Giordano is a widely-recognized and widely-respected player, and he automatically gives the blue line credibility.
Protected: Jordan Staal (F), Sebastian Aho (F), Andrei Svechnikov (F), Teuvo Teravainen (F), Vincent Trocheck (F), Warren Foegele (F), Jesper Fast (F), Jaccob Slavin (D), Brady Skjei (D), Brett Pesce (D), Alex Nedeljkovic (G)
Danny — Nino Niederreiter, F
Something that Sara Civian of The Athletic noted the other day rings true here: The Hurricanes have done such a great job developing young players that absurd talent is going to be available here. Morgan Geekie and Jake Bean come to mind. But given the crop that’s available to Seattle here, Niederreiter is in the final year of his deal. Again, not a bad idea to take on expiring contracts if they’re available.
Justin — Dougie Hamilton, D
Yep, we are doing it; pay him whatever he wants. There’s not much else to say.
Jillian — Jake Bean, D
Though it was surprising to see Niederreiter held off the protection list, Bean has too much upside to overlook. The former first-round pick was drafted by Francis back in 2016, and while Bean struggled down the stretch and in the postseason, he remains a valuable young defensive prospect with just one NHL season under his belt. He has the potential to run a power play in the future and is just 23 years old.
Protected: Patrick Kane (F), Jonathan Toews (F), Alex DeBrincat (F), Dylan Strome (F), David Kampf (F), Brandon Hagel (F), Henrik Borgstrom (F), Connor Murphy (D), Caleb Jones (D), Riley Stillman (D), Kevin Lankinen (G)
Danny — Nikita Zadorov, D
Zadorov could be re-signed, or his rights could be flipped to another team for assets. Chicago just doesn’t have the intriguing pick of the litter, maybe outside of Brett Connolly. If Seattle chooses to take him, Zadorov will eat minutes and hit anything that moves.
Justin — Calvin de Haan, D
Here’s an established defenseman who would not be lost when paired with Hamilton.
Jillian — Brett Connolly, F
It would be very surprising to see Seattle take Connolly given the plethora of offensive options on the board, especially since he carries a $3.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons. However, there aren’t many question marks when it comes to his game. He’s a reliable 15-goal scorer who can play up and down the lineup and on both special teams units, and he’s a responsible two-way winger. Those skills can be found elsewhere in this draft for a lot less money, which is why he probably won’t get selected. But Connolly is one of those players who could rediscover his game with a fresh start. He’s younger than some of the other veterans, has a Stanley Cup ring and could give Seattle two very solid seasons of hockey in addition to being a future deadline-deal asset.
Protected: Nathan MacKinnon (F), Mikko Rantanen (F), Andre Burakovsky (F), Nazem Kadri (F), Tyson Jost (F), Valeri Nichushkin (F), Logan O’Connor (F), Sam Girard (D), Devon Toews (D), Cale Makar (D), Philipp Grubauer (G)
Danny — Gabriel Landeskog, F
If there is plenty of separation between the Avalanche and their captain as has been reported, this is Seattle’s prime opportunity. By taking Landeskog, the Kraken not only commit to fielding a competitive team in Year 1, but can give Landeskog that eighth year that Colorado seems hesitant to give him. And who better to have as a captain for Year 1?
Justin — Joonas Donskoi, F
Donskoi is a good scoring option who would probably see second-line minutes for the Kraken.
Jillian — Jacob MacDonald, D
Seattle should make a big push for Landeskog, who is underrated despite playing on one of the best lines in hockey. Signing him is easier said than done, especially since he wants to stay with the Avs, but he’d be worth it. If that doesn’t work, since Donskoi has two years left at $3.9 million, MacDonald feels like a safe (albeit unlikely) choice. Joe Sakic has done an admirable job collecting defensemen, and MacDonald showed some promise in limited action last year on a crowded blue line. Plus, he saves cap space, which is invaluable.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Protected: Cam Atkinson (F), Oliver Bjorkstrand (F), Patrik Laine (F), Gustav Nyquist (F), Boone Jenner (F), Jack Roslovic (F), Eric Robinson (F), Seth Jones (D), Zach Werenski (D), Vladislav Gavrikov (D), Joonas Korpisalo (G)
Danny — Max Domi, F
Domi and Landeskog on the top line. Make it so.
Justin — Max Domi, F
Yes, he has struggled, but the talent is there. He would immediately be Seattle’s best center.
Jillian — Max Domi, F
Domi has a $5.3 million cap hit for one more year, but he won’t be ready for the start of the season following shoulder surgery, which is anything but ideal. Even so, the risk seems worth it given the tremendous upside, and it’s hard to imagine teams won’t want him at the deadline if things don’t go according to plan, especially since Seattle can retain salary on the expiring contract. If things do go well, Seattle will have a top center who plays with an edge and is two years removed from a 72-point campaign. Yes, please.
Protected: Jamie Benn (F), Tyler Seguin (F), Alexander Radulov (F), Joe Pavelski (F), Radek Faksa (F), Denis Gurianov (F), Roope Hintz (F), Miro Heiskanen (D), John Klingberg (D), Esa Lindell (D), Anton Khudobin (G)
Danny — Julius Honka, D
Another reclamation project, Honka could benefit from a change of scenery. He hasn’t been a mainstay on the Dallas blue line, but he has skills that can make him formidable. He enters restricted free agency this summer, and it shouldn’t require a lot to re-sign him.
Justin — Sami Vatanen, D
He’s a pending UFA who could be a solid bottom-pair defenseman.
Jillian — Adam Mascherin, F
Mascherin is coming off a stellar season with the Texas Stars in which he recorded 18 goals and 34 points in 37 games, good for a top-10 finish in AHL scoring. He put up impressive numbers in the OHL (296 points in 259 games) and was a high second-round pick in 2016 (No. 38 overall). The pending RFA won’t cost much to qualify and has a lot of upside, making him a strong choice for Seattle. It came down to Mascherin and Honka.
Detroit Red Wings
Protected: Dylan Larkin (F), Jakub Vrana (F), Tyler Bertuzzi (F), Robby Fabbri (F), Adam Erne (F), Michael Rasmussen (F), Givani Smith (F), Filip Hronek (D), Nick Leddy (D), Gustav Lindstrom (D), Thomas Greiss (G)
Danny — Vladislav Namestnikov, F
Not a bad bargain at $2 million on an expiring deal. Another top-nine forward that can contribute right away.
Justin — Troy Stecher, D
I have always liked Stecher, who blocks a lot of shots and would be a solid bottom-pair defenseman.
Jillian — Troy Stecher, D
Namestnikov would be a great choice given his contract and ability, but Stecher is a right-shot defenseman on an affordable expiring contract, and he’s a fan-favorite kind of player.
Protected: Connor McDavid (F), Leon Draisaitl (F), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (F), Jesse Puljujarvi (F), Kailer Yamamoto (F), Zack Kassian (F), Josh Archibald (F), Duncan Keith (D), Darnell Nurse (D), Ethan Bear (D), Stuart Skinner (G)
Danny — Tyler Benson, F
Benson was a point-per-game player with Bakersfield last season and still has time to develop at 23 years old.
Justin — Kyle Turris, F
I kicked the tires on Oscar Klefbom, but the injury concerns are too much to overcome. Turris adds center depth and a veteran presence in an extremely young locker room.
Jillian — Cooper Marody, F
Full disclosure: Marody is one of my favorite prospects in hockey going back to 2015. However, he has the skill and upside to warrant consideration, even if most — including Francis — will have Tyler Benson higher on their list. But as the Golden Knights have learned, you can never have too many centers in the organization. Marody scored 36 points in 39 games this past season, good for third overall in the AHL, and his 21 goals led the entire league. Health remains a concern, which is one reason why it’s highly unlikely he’ll be chosen by Seattle.
Protected: Jonathan Huberdeau (F), Aleksander Barkov (F), Patric Hornqvist (F), Sam Bennett (F), Anthony Duclair (F), Carter Verhaeghe (F), Mason Marchment (F), Aaron Ekblad (D), MacKenzie Weegar (D), Gustav Forsling (D), Sergei Bobrovsky (G)
Danny — Chris Driedger, G
It’s all but a lock that Driedger will be the first goalie off the board for Seattle. Will he be the starter, though?
Justin — Chris Driedger, G
When there is smoke, there is usually fire. This seems like a done deal, but Frank Vatrano also would be an excellent pick.
Jillian — Chris Driedger, G
Reports indicate Driedger will be the Seattle selection out of Florida; he is expected to sign a three-year deal with an AAV in the range of $3.5 million. Middle-six forward Frank Vatrano would have been my choice otherwise.
Los Angeles Kings
Protected: Anze Kopitar (F), Dustin Brown (F), Alex Iafallo (F), Viktor Arvidsson (F), Adrian Kempe (F), Trevor Moore (F), Lias Andersson (F), Drew Doughty (D), Sean Walker (D), Matt Roy (D), Cal Petersen (G)
Danny — Blake Lizotte, C
Lizotte is fun to watch. At 5-foot-7, he has 33 points in two seasons with Los Angeles, but he does his best work as a penalty killer. Wouldn’t Jonathan Quick be great for the memes, though?
Justin — Blake Lizotte, F
A very solid option as a middle-six forward.
Jillian — Andreas Athanasiou, F
Austin Wagner is a potential target for Francis and the Kraken. But while Athanasiou has just 21 goals over the last two years after scoring 30 in 2018-19, his skill level, speed and game-changing ability make him an intriguing pick.
Protected: Mats Zuccarello (F), Kevin Fiala (F), Joel Eriksson Ek (F), Jordan Greenway (F), Marcus Foligno (F), Ryan Hartman (F), Nico Sturm (F), Jared Spurgeon (D), Jonas Brodin (D), Matt Dumba (D), Cam Talbot (G)
Danny — Kaapo Kahkonen, G
If this wasn’t Seattle’s first selection after looking at the list, I’m not sure what Ron Francis is doing. Kahkonen and Cam Talbot were one hell of a tandem last season before Talbot ran away with the job. He’s going to get plenty of chances to shine in Seattle.
Justin — Carson Soucy, D
A decent defensive defenseman with control.
Jillian — Kaapo Kahkonen, G
It was very surprising to see Minnesota protect Cam Talbot over Kahkonen. The Wild are in win-now mode, but Kahkonen has more long-term value and upside. He struggled mightily down the stretch but saved Minnesota’s season when Talbot was injured, going 9-0-0 with a 1.44 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in that stretch. At just 24 years old, this is a slam-dunk pick, all due respect to Carson Soucy.
Protected: Brendan Gallagher (F), Tyler Toffoli (F), Josh Anderson (F), Joel Armia (F), Artturi Lehkonen (F), Jesperi Kotkaniemi (F), Jake Evans (F), Jeff Petry (D), Ben Chiarot (D), Joel Edmundson (D), Jake Allen (G)
Danny — Carey Price, G
I, a fan of chaos and unruly conduct, want this to happen so bad for everything imaginable. More than anything, though, Price is a marketing pick. Think of Marc-Andre Fleury with Vegas. Even if Price’s medical records aren’t clean right now, stash him on LTIR and roll with Driedger and Kahkonen. Either way, it would be blasphemy to not cause craziness here.
Justin — Jonathan Drouin, F
No, I am not taking Carey Price. Drouin most likely would slot in on Seattle’s top line.
Jillian — Brett Kulak, D
Drouin could be a high-upside choice, but the mysterious circumstances surrounding his departure from the Canadiens make him risky, especially at $5.5 million for two years. With more insight into the situation, he might be worth it, but that’s not doable in a mock draft. While having two Fleury brothers (Haydn and Cale) would be fun, Kulak is a safer choice. I also considered prospect Lukas Vejdemo, but Kulak showed promise in Calgary and is on an expiring deal with an AAV under $2 million. At no point did I consider drafting Carey Price, though Seattle may.
Protected: Filip Forsberg (F), Luke Kunin (F), Tanner Jeannot (F), Roman Josi (D), Mattias Ekholm (D), Dante Fabbro (D), Alexandre Carrier (D), Philippe Myers (D), Juuse Saros (G)
Danny — Calle Jarnkrok, F
Nashville has had, uh, an interesting few days. And no one on Earth is taking Matt Duchene. Jarnkrok is a good middle-six guy with sneaky scoring ability.
Justin — Rocco Grimaldi, F
A very good option as I do not want to take on major money without compensation. Cap space is the Kraken’s best friend, and I am trying to preserve that.
Jillian — Calle Jarnkrok, F
David Poile’s decision to protect five defensemen was surprising, and while he has made some puzzling choices this summer, leaving his two expensive centers unprotected was not one of them. The idea of adding a free first-line center is tempting, especially since Ryan Johansen was explosive offensively in his days in Columbus, but an AAV of $8 million for four more years is daunting, to say the least. Either way, Jarnkrok is a fantastic player every team would love to have. He has one year left at a very team-friendly $2 million cap hit, well below his value. There’s a risk he could leave during free agency, but he could be a long-term option for Seattle. He plays in all situations and has provided consistent production for years. While he’s not an overly flashy player, he’s capable of being part of a “Golden Misfits” kind of line.
New Jersey Devils
Protected: Nico Hischier (F), Pavel Zacha (F), Miles Wood (F), Jesper Bratt (F), Janne Kuokkanen (F), Yegor Sharangovich (F), Michael McLeod (F), Damon Severson (D), Ryan Graves (D), Jonas Siegenthaler (D), MacKenzie Blackwood (G)
Danny — Nathan Bastian, F
The key is the contract: Two years left at less than $1 million. Thank you for your time.
Justin — Will Butcher, D
A very solid option as a defenseman.
Jillian — Nathan Bastian, F
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound winger isn’t a great skater and doesn’t present a ton of offensive upside, but he does bring physicality and cap security, with two years left on a very affordable contract.
New York Islanders
Protected: Mathew Barzal (F), Anders Lee (F), Brock Nelson (F), Anthony Beauvillier (F), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (F), Cal Clutterbuck (F), Matt Martin (F), Ryan Pulock (D), Adam Pelech (D), Scott Mayfield (D), Semyon Varlamov (G)
Danny — Jordan Eberle, F
Still sitting here wondering why Clutterbuck and Martin were protected over Eberle and even Josh Bailey. Capable 20-goal guy with cap space still at a decent level by this point. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Kieffer Bellows go here, but again, chaos is fun.
Justin — Leo Komarov, F
I do not want to help the Islanders by taking Eberle or Bailey, so I will settle for a guy whose numbers were likely inflated as a result of his linemates.
Jillian — Kieffer Bellows, F
Eberle and Bailey could both be top-line or top-six forwards on most teams in the NHL. Both are 31 and have three years remaining on contracts with cap hits over $5 million, which is partly why the Islanders chose to protect their fourth-line forwards instead. But Bellows, a former first-round pick, has plenty of untapped potential at just 23 years of age, and he doesn’t carry any risk or cap ramifications.
New York Rangers
Protected: Mika Zibanejad (F), Artemi Panarin (F), Chris Kreider (F), Pavel Buchnevich (F), Ryan Strome (F), Filip Chytil (F), Kevin Rooney (F), Jacob Trouba (D), Ryan Lindgren (D), Libor Hajek (D), Alexandar Georgiev (G)
Danny — Colin Blackwell, F
Nothing really jumps off the page with the Rangers. Blackwell is a cheap option and can be stashed in the AHL.
Justin — Keith Kinkaid, G
There is nothing here that I am interested in, so I will use Kinkaid as my third goalie to satisfy the requirement.
Jillian — Colin Blackwell, F
Blackwell had a surprisingly effective season, chipping in 12 goals and 22 points in 47 games. He’d be easy for Seattle to flip at any point this season given his expiring contract, though he could easily be a serviceable player on the roster. That being said, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Francis go with Julien Gauthier, whom he drafted in Carolina back in 2016 (No. 21 overall).
Protected: Brady Tkachuk (F), Connor Brown (F), Drake Batherson (F), Logan Brown (F), Colin White (F), Nicholas Paul (F), Austin Watson (F), Thomas Chabot (D), Nikita Zaitsev (D), Victor Mete (D), Filip Gustavsson (G)
Danny — Chris Tierney, C
I like Tierney as a bottom-six center, and this is where it should happen. Whether or not the Senators felt Tierney would be a top-six guy from the Erik Karlsson trade, he would be a great third-line center on most teams. He would be a great pickup for Seattle here.
Justin — Ryan Dzingel, F
I have always liked Dzingel, and I think there is still potential for him to be productive once again.
Jillian — Evgenii Dadonov, F
Dadonov is coming off a disappointing season with Ottawa but was a top producer in his time in Florida. He would be a candidate to skate on Seattle’s top line and could rediscover that scoring touch with an increased role and better linemates. He scored at least 25 goals and 13 power-play points in three straight seasons with the Panthers. He has two years left at $5 million and is 32 but could thrive with a change of scenery.
Protected: Claude Giroux (F), Kevin Hayes (F), Sean Couturier (F), Travis Konecny (F), Oskar Lindblom (F), Scott Laughton (F), Nicolas Aube-Kubel (F), Ivan Provorov (D), Ryan Ellis (D), Travis Sanheim (D), Carter Hart (G)
Danny — Jakub Voracek, F
It’s a toss-up between James van Riemsdyk and Voracek, who has been a 60-point guy on many occasions. Voracek could be selected only to be flipped later, but there’s no doubt he’s someone who would make Seattle’s top six enticing.
Justin — Justin Braun, D
A veteran defenseman who could make an impact and provide depth.
Jillian — James van Riemsdyk, F
The Flyers have several strong options available, with three players signed to contracts Philadelphia is looking to shed. JVR has an AAV of $7 million for two more seasons but would be well worth it. He’s coming off one of the best seasons of his career and is the best in the NHL when it comes to deflection goals and standing in front of the net. He would be a major weapon for Seattle’s top six and especially its power play.
Protected: Sidney Crosby (F), Evgeni Malkin (F), Jake Guentzel (F), Bryan Rust (F), Kasperi Kapanen (F), Jeff Carter (F), Teddy Blueger (F), Kris Letang (D), Brian Dumoulin (D), Michael Matheson (D), Tristan Jarry (G)
Danny — Zach Aston-Reese, F
A bottom-six option that may not score a lot, but an analytical darling. And, with no confirmation here, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pittsburgh swing a side deal to not take Casey DeSmith.
Justin — Zach Aston-Reese, F
I considered Marcus Pettersson but ultimately decided to go with the cheaper option.
Jillian — Casey DeSmith, G
DeSmith is a decent backup with one year on a very favorable deal (AAV: $1.25 million). Teams always need goaltenders, and he’s one of the more affordable options, giving Seattle great leverage in a potential trade. Aston-Reese is the more likely choice given his strong analytics, but the offense hasn’t translated and he’s injury-prone.
San Jose Sharks
Protected: Logan Couturier (F), Evander Kane (F), Tomas Hertl (F), Timo Meier (F), Kevin Labanc (F), Rudolfs Balcers (F), Jonathan Dahlen (F), Erik Karlsson (D), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (D), Brent Burns (D), Adin Hill (G)
Danny — Dylan Gambrell, F
One year left before hitting restricted free agency, and one of San Jose’s bright spots last season.
Justin — Matt Nieto, F
A good bottom-six guy on a team-friendly deal is a better option than helping the Sharks by taking Martin Jones.
Jillian — Ryan Donato, F
Donato showed great promise in his final season in Minnesota and could be a strong choice if given a bigger role.
St. Louis Blues
Protected: Ryan O’Reilly (F), David Perron (F), Brayden Schenn (F), Robert Thomas (F), Jordan Kyrou (F), Oskar Sundqvist (F), Ivan Barbashev (F), Justin Faulk (D), Colton Parayko (D), Torey Krug (D), Jordan Binnington (G)
Danny — Vince Dunn, D
I want Vladimir Tarasenko here for the memes. But with Dunn as an RFA, and him falling out of favor in Craig Berube’s lineup, a change of scenery might be needed.
Justin — Marco Scandella, D
Looking for a bounce-back season from a defenseman that has been quite good in years past.
Jillian — Vince Dunn, D
Though it’s rumored that Seattle may take Vladimir Tarasenko and flip him, Dunn is a better choice here. Tarasenko has had three shoulder surgeries and has played 34 total games over the last two seasons, scoring seven goals in that time. He doesn’t appear to be the player he once was. Seattle won’t care if he’s merely getting flipped, but without knowing the return, I have to go with the better option. Dunn, 24, has way too much upside to ignore.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Protected: Nikita Kucherov (F), Steven Stamkos (F), Brayden Point (F), Anthony Cirelli (F), Victor Hedman (D), Ryan McDonagh (D), Mikhail Sergachev (D), Erik Cernak (D), Andrei Vasilevskiy (G)
Danny — Yanni Gourde, F
Top-line center from Day 1.
Justin — Ross Colton, F
Give me an excellent young scoring option up the middle; this is absolutely my favorite pick of the draft.
Jillian — Yanni Gourde, F
Gourde does everything and could be a first- or second-line center for the Kraken for many years to come.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Protected: John Tavares (F), Auston Matthews (F), Mitch Marner (F), William Nylander (F), Morgan Rielly (D), Jake Muzzin (D), T.J. Brodie (D), Justin Holl (D), Jack Campbell (G)
Danny — Jared McCann, F
Justin — Pierre Engvall, F
A solid young forward with a good contract and RFA control after next season.
Jillian — Jared McCann, F
Alexander Kerfoot being exposed was a surprise, though he’s taken a step back since his days in Colorado. However, McCann is slightly younger and has just one year left on his contract. Wayne Simmonds would be a great choice and a fan favorite, but McCann can play center and wing and will be eight years younger next season.
Protected: Bo Horvat (F), J.T. Miller (F), Brock Boeser (F), Elias Pettersson (F), Tanner Pearson (F), Jason Dickinson (F), Tyler Motte (F), Tyler Myers (D), Nate Schmidt (D), Olli Juolevi (D), Thatcher Demko (G)
Danny — Zack MacEwen, F
Jake Virtanen seemed like a fun pick for some reason, and Braden Holtby might have been another option, but seeing how we already have three goalies, MacEwen is a good player to keep for development purposes.
Justin — Travis Hamonic, D
Letting Hamonic walk in free agency would free up a roster spot and avoid taking on unnecessary cap.
Jillian — Braden Holtby, G
This is an easy choice. Holtby is coming off a rough year in Vancouver but has been an elite goaltender throughout his career. He’s a proven winner, would be a great mentor and played a critical role in Washington’s Cup run.
Protected: Nicklas Backstrom (F), T.J. Oshie (F), Tom Wilson (F), Evgeny Kuznetsov (F), Lars Eller (F), Anthony Mantha (F), Daniel Sprong (F), John Carlson (D), Dmitry Orlov (D), Trevor van Riemsdyk (D), Ilya Samsonov (G)
Danny — Brenden Dillon, D
Seattle is going to have a strong defense from the get-go, and Dillon will be a formidable top-pairing guy with Giordano. And he’s under control until 2024.
Justin — Vitek Vanecek, G
Likely to be the backup; the young goalie was excellent in 2020-21.
Jillian — Nic Dowd, F
Justin Schultz would be a worthwhile option and easy to flip either now or at the deadline, and Conor Sheary is coming off a 14-goal season. But Dowd was one of the Capitals’ best players in the regular season and playoffs last year, and he scored 11 goals playing on the fourth line. Michal Kempny would be an interesting option but missed all of last season. Seattle could take Sheary, though Francis very well may go with Dillon despite his contract and rough showing in the playoffs.
Protected: Blake Wheeler (F), Mark Scheifele (F), Kyle Connor (F), Nikolaj Ehlers (F), Pierre-Luc DuBois (F), Adam Lowry (F), Andrew Copp (F), Josh Morrissey (D), Neal Pionk (D), Logan Stanley (D), Connor Hellebuyck (G)
Danny — Dylan DeMelo, D
See thoughts above.
Justin — Mason Appleton, F
A solid forward who could build on his strong 2020-21 season.
Jillian — Dylan DeMelo, D
This was a tough choice between Appleton and DeMelo. In the end, the affordable right-shot defenseman with three years left at just $3 million seemed like the more valuable pickup. Sami Niku was also in the running.
Expansion draft rosters
Danny’s Seattle Kraken roster
Position requirements: 18/14 F, 9/9 D, 3/3 G
A strong forward group with a chance to score a lot of goals.
Gabriel Landeskog (COL); Jakub Voracek (PHI); Jordan Eberle (NYI); Max Domi (CBJ); Nino Niederreiter (CAR); Yanni Gourde (TBL); Chris Tierney (OTT); Jared McCann (TOR); Calle Jarnkrok (NSH); Vladislav Namestnikov (DET); Dylan Gambrell (SJS); Christian Fischer (ARI); Zack MacEwan (VAN); Nathan Bastian (NJD); Blake Lizotte (LAK); Colin Blackwell (NYR); Zach Aston-Reese (PIT); Tyler Benson (EDM)
Mark Giordano (CGY); Brenden Dillon (WSH); Vince Dunn (STL); Colin Miller (BUF); Dyan DeMelo (WPG); Haydn Fleury (ANA); Jeremy Lauzon (BOS); Julius Honka (DAL); Nikita Zadorov (CHI)
Chaos, chaos, and more chaos.
Carey Price (MTL); Kaapo Kahkonen (MIN); Chris Driedger (FLA)
Justin’s Seattle Kraken roster
Position requirements: 16/14 F, 11/9 D, 3/3 G
I left $31.6 million in cap space to sign Hamilton, Colton, Aston-Reese, Dzingel and Vatanen. The lineup could look like something like this:
Drouin — Domi — Donskoi
Komarov — Lizotte — Grimaldi
Aston-Reese — Colton — Appleton
Eakin — Turris — Fischer
Soucy — Hamilton
de Haan — Lauzon
Fleury — Stecher
Jonathan Drouin (MTL); Max Domi (CBJ); Joonas Donskoi (COL); Leo Komarov (NYI); Cody Eakin (BUF); Rocco Grimaldi (NSH); Kyle Turris (EDM); Pierre Engvall (TOR); Christian Fischer (ARI); Mason Appleton (WPG); Matt Nieto (SJS); Blake Lizotte (LAK); Ryan Dzingel (OTT); Ross Colton (TBL); Zach Aston-Reese (PIT); Josh Leivo (CGY)
Dougie Hamilton (CAR); Calvin de Haan (CHI); Will Butcher (NJD); Marco Scandella (STL); Carson Soucy (MIN); Justin Braun (PHI); Troy Stecher (DET); Haydn Fleury (ANA); Jeremy Lauzon (BOS); Travis Hamonic (VAN); Sami Vatanen (DAL)
Chris Driedger (FLA); Vitek Vanecek (WSH); Keith Kinkaid (NYR)
Jillian’s Seattle Kraken roster
Position requirements: 16/14 F, 10/9 D, 4/3 G
This isn’t the flashiest roster by any means, but it wasn’t intended to be. At the end of the day, there’s some high-end talent, some impressive up-and-coming players, some promising prospects and a lot of trading chips. The Knights got a lot of unexpected performances out of different players in 2017; I do not believe that will happen on a similar scale given the difference in coaching between Vegas and Seattle. However, we all know how powerful the revenge narrative can be in this kind of situation. There are a lot of other options in free agency, though it’s worth preserving cap space in the long run.
Note: This is not a prediction of what Seattle will do, as explained above with various selections.
James van Riemsdyk (PHI); Max Domi (CBJ); Yanni Gourde (TBL); Evgenii Dadonov (OTT); Calle Jarnkrok (NSH); Brett Connolly (CHI); Jared McCann (TOR); Ryan Donato (SJS); Andreas Athanasiou (LAK); Nathan Bastian (NJD); Nic Dowd (WSH); Colin Blackwell (NYR); Cooper Marody (EDM); Kieffer Bellows (NYI); Adam Mascherin (DAL); Michael Bunting (ARI)
Mark Giordano (CGY); Vince Dunn (STL); Colin Miller (BUF); Jake Bean (CAR); Haydn Fleury (ANA); Dylan DeMelo (WPG); Troy Stecher (DET); Connor Clifton (BOS); Brett Kulak (MTL); Jacob MacDonald (COL)
Braden Holtby (VAN); Kaapo Kahkonen (MIN); Chris Driedger (FLA); Casey DeSmith (PIT)
Every KOI general manager had the same pick for only three out of 30 teams. One (Florida) was already decided by Seattle; the other two were Anaheim (Fleury) and Columbus (Domi).
That being said, there were 15 instances when two GM’s had the same choice, though the third sometimes had that same player in mind as well. The players chosen by two GM’s include Fischer (ARI), Lauzon (BOS), Miller (BUF), Giordano (CGY), Stecher (DET), Lizotte (LAK), Kahkonen (MIN), Jarnkrok (NSH), Bastian (NJD), Blackwell (NYR), Aston-Reese (PIT), Dunn (STL), Gourde (TBL), McCann (TOR) and DeMelo (WPG).
Interestingly, there were 12 occasions when three different players were selected from one team.
Most notably, this includes Carolina (Niederreiter, Hamilton, Bean), Montreal (Price, Drouin, Kulak), Ottawa (Tierney, Dzingel, Dadonov), Philadelphia (Voracek, Braun, van Riemsdyk), Vancouver (MacEwan, Hamonic, Holtby) and Washington (Dillon, Vanecek, Dowd). The other teams were Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, the Islanders and San Jose.
At the end of the day, these rosters are not true reflections of what Seattle is going to do. Francis has the option of making side deals with all 30 teams, which could affect almost every player in the draft. But even with so many overlapping players across our lists, these rosters would set the Kraken up on three different paths.
It will be fascinating to see how things play out for Seattle —and the rest of the NHL — tomorrow evening.