Home Sports PHR Mock Expansion Draft: Seattle Kraken

PHR Mock Expansion Draft: Seattle Kraken

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The protection lists are in, and the Seattle Kraken is now on the clock. Tomorrow night, the 32nd NHL team selects their expansion list from across the league and takes on a player from 30 teams. The Vegas Golden Knights are exempt from the process, but also do not receive a portion of the booklet expansion fee.

Seattle must select at least 20 players who are under contract for the 2021-22 season. They must also select at least 14 strikers, nine defenders and three goalkeepers. Selected players’ contracts should fall between 60% ($ 48.9MM) and 100% ($ 81.5MM) of the salary cap for 2020-21. The full rules of the selection process can be found here.

Last time we had an extension draft, the PHR team came together and developed a consensus outline. Although several of these choices proved to be correct, the large number of page offers kept several top names out of Vegas. This year we have done something a little different. Brian La Rose, Zach Leach, Josh Erickson and I have each submitted a list along with a bit of explanation of our process. On these lists, we do not take into account potential trades on the day of expansion, but are considering future transactions. As always, we welcome your thoughts and criticisms in the comments section below.

Brian La Rose

Attackers (17):

Adam Gaudette (CHI)
JT Compher (COL)
Max Domi (CBJ)
Adam Mascherin (FROM)
Tyler Benson (EDM)
Jarnkrok Street (NSH)
Andreas Johnsson (NJD)
Josh Bailey (NYI)
Julien gauthier (NYR)
Chris Tierney (DER)
Jakub Voracek (PHI)
Jason Zucker (PIT)
Dylan Gambrell (SJS)
Ondrej Palat (TBL)
Alexander Kerfoot (DRY)
Kole Lind (FROM)
Mason Appleton (WPG)

Defense (10):

Josh Mahura (ANA)
Jeremy Lauzon (FOREST)
William Borgen (BUF)
Mark Giordano (CGY)
Jake Bean (CAR)
Troy Stecher (THAT)
Kale plague (LAK)
Brett Kulak (MTL)
Vince Dunn (STL)
Justin Schultz (WSH)

Goalkeepers (3):

Josef Korenar (ARI)
Chris Driedger (TEAR)
Cape Kahkonen (MINE)

Value and flexibility were the two items I valued on my Seattle list. It’s a team that will be well below the upper limit when everyone is signed with multiple veterans selected for the purpose of turning them around either before this week’s draft or before the trade deadline for elections and prospects to build their active base. If they get moved by the draft, it frees up the possibility of taking on a bad contract or two like Arizona just did with Andrew Ladd, add more long-term pieces to the puzzle in the process. Others like Chris Tierney and Justin Schultz are pieces that will benefit from a great role and improved numbers that build their value for the trade deadline.

In goal, Chris Driedger (provided he signs) with Kaapo Kakhonen gives them a controllable and cost-effective tandem for a few years. I do not see the point in paying big bucks for a veteran at this point as I am looking at a long term build. Josef Korenar is exempt, and as much as there are better exception-free third goalkeepers available, someone had to be selected from Arizona.

There are two different classes on the back. The expiring contracts are bait, but it is by design that there are six players under 25 years old. Vince Dunn is an established piece and I think patience and good development can give three more regular NHL blueliners out of the more untested players with the option of a regular role. Again, they are all controllable through limited free agency, giving them either some cost-effective players or interesting trades a year or two down.

Up front, most of the selected players signed beyond 2021-22 were selected for the purpose of rehabilitation value. Whether it’s a change of scenery or a chance to play a bigger role, the hope is that some of them will become trading assets next summer. Veterans like Jakub Voracek, Jason Zuckerand Josh Baileymeanwhile, serve as skilled pieces to keep the team competitive most nights. I will take the gamble on a wounded Max Domi to see if he is someone worth keeping around in the long run. If not, he is someone who could ideally also be tipped by the deadline. Again, there are some prospects out there with minimal NHL time by design. The hope is that a few realistically turn out to be usable pieces.

I do not want to get playoffs right away if I am a GM Ron Francis. I think a slower build that gives them a promising stable of assets is the better way to go and this list was chosen with that in mind. There are some players who can be for a while, others who can be moved for choices and prospects, and the cape’s flexibility to turn quickly if something changes quickly.

Zach Leach

Attackers (15):

Adam Gaudette (CHI)
Joonas Donskoi (COL)
Vladislav Namestnikov (THAT)
Cooper Marody (EDM)
Carl Grundstrom (LAK)
Ryan Johansen (NSH)
Kieffer bellows (NYI)
Julien gauthier (NYR)
Vitaly Abramov (DER)
Jason Zucker (PIT)
Dylan Gambrell (SJS)
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)
Yanni Gourde (TBL)
Jared McCann (DRY)
Jonah Gadjovich (FROM)

Defense (11):

Haydn Fleury (ANA)
Jeremy Lauzon (FOREST)
William Borgen (BUF)
Mark Giordano (CGY)
Jake Bean (CAR)
Dean Kukan | (CBJ)
Brett Kulak (MTL)
PK Subban (NJD)
Justin Braun (PHI)
Brenden Dillon (WSH)
Dylan DeMelo (WPG)

Goalkeepers (4):

Josef Korenar (ARI)
Ben Bishop (FROM)
Chris Driedger (TEAR)
Cape Kahkonen (MINE)

Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis took a slow, methodical approach to team building when he was with the Carolina Hurricanes. He can do that again in Seattle, but he also knows how important it is for an expansion team to be exciting from the start in a new market. Francis can achieve both by taking advantage of some of the big names available to him on short-term contracts, such as Subban, Tarasenko and Zucker. These are names that make Kraken dangerous right away, but will also result in good trade returns down the road if Seattle does not compete for a playoff spot.

However, the team has a good chance of supporting players like Gourde, Donskoi, McCann, Namestnikov, Dillon, DeMelo and more. I tried to balance my choices between stars on short-term deals, affordable long-term deals, tall up-and-coming young players to build around and veteran trade baits like Bishop, Giordano and Braun, while also picking some players with ties to Francis or to the Pacific Northwest. I also tried to give the team some flexibility with 30 picks, taking Abramov (played in the KHL this year) and goalkeepers Kahkonen and Korenar (both exempt). The only choice that probably needs to be explained the most is Johansen – I simply think Nashville has a side deal with Seattle that involves one of their two $ 8MM centers. I think Johansen can return to form with a change of scenery, and wingers like Tarasenko and Zucker would not hurt.

Josh Erickson

Attackers (15):

Alexander Volkov (ANA)
Nino Niederreiter (CAR)
Joonas Donskoi (COL)
Kevin Stenlund (CBJ)
Tyler Benson (EDM)
Matt Duchene (NSH)
Nicholas Merkley (NJD)
Jordan Eberle (NYI)
Colin Blackwell (NYR)
Evgenii Dadonov (DER)
Ryan Donato (SJS)
Yanni Gourde (TBL)
Jared McCann (DRY)
Conor Sheary (WSH)
Mason Appleton (WPG)

Defense (11):

Cam Dineen (ARI)
Colin Miller (BUF)
Mark Giordano (CGY)
Anton Lindholm (CHI)
Troy Stecher (THAT)
Kale plague (LAK)
Brett Kulak (MTL)
Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI)
Marcus Pettersson (PIT)
Vince Dunn (STL)
Guillaume Brisebois (FROM)

Goalkeepers (4):

Callum Booth (FOREST)
Ben Bishop (FROM)
Chris Driedger (TEAR)
Cape Kahkonen (MINE)

It is a team with more scoring strokes than most expected weeks ago, mainly due to some unexpected exposures (Niederreiter, Dadonov, McCann, etc.). There are still some notable omissions here – namely Stenlund above Max Domi from Columbus and Volkov above Adam Henrique to Anaheim. While these would definitely be the better player to choose, you just can not take too many big money players in this environment. The higher cap hits from Duchene, Eberle, Niederreiter and Gourde were more tasty. There is also a bit of a controversial decision in Philadelphia where one chooses Gostisbehere over any of them James van Riemsdyk or Jakub Voracek. He is younger, cheaper and in the short term than both of them and must be ready for a bounce, especially under the coach where he first succeeded. Chose Kulak over Price for a similar reason – astronomical hit and injury problems made Dallas’ bishop a more appealing option.

Kahkonen is still eligible to resign, meaning Seattle could use him as the third goalkeeper reliably if Bishop is healthy. They would not risk losing him on exceptions. There is really no need for additional cap-dumps or trades after this draft, and this team can easily finish at the top of the division and conference in year 1.

Gavin Lee

Attackers (17):

Michael Bunting (ARI)
Nick Ritchie (FOREST)
Joonas Donskoi (COL)
Kevin Stenlund (CBJ)
Evgeny Svechnikov (THAT)
Jujhar Khaira (EDM)
Andreas Athanasiou (LAK)
Jarnkrok Street (NSH)
Nicholas Merkley (NJD)
Jordan Eberle (NYI)
Julien gauthier (NYR)
Chris Tierney (DER)
Jason Zucker (PIT)
Dylan Gambrell (SJS)
Yanni Gourde (TBL)
Jared McCann (DRY)
Jake Virtanen (FROM)

Defense (9):

Haydn Fleury (ANA)
William Borgen (BUF)
Mark Giordano (CGY)
Jake Bean (CAR)
Calvin de Haan (CHI)
Brett Kulak (MTL)
Robert Hagg (PHI)
Vince Dunn (STL)
Dylan DeMelo (WPG)

Goalkeepers (4):

Ben Bishop (FROM)
Chris Driedger (TEAR)
Cape Kahkonen (MINE)
Vitek Vanecek (WSH)

I have gone a little differently than some. I want to be a relatively competitive team right away to give the market something to cheer for in year one, but I was also careful not to commit to any real long-term contracts. The four years left on Gourde’s deal is the only contract on the books through 2024-25, and he was only the choice because the center depth is so weak across the league. The key here is flexibility for GM Ron Francis and head coach Dave Hakstol. At least eight of the selected strikers have mid-level experience at the NHL level, which means you can even sell some out when the annual race around a third-line hub takes place by the deadline. Bunting inclusion is more about Arizona’s available players than the future of the 25-year-old unlimited free agent. Although an agreement cannot be implemented, they have a few days to trade his rights with interested parties.

Like Brian and Josh, I abandoned the idea of ‚Äč‚ÄčTarasenko, even though it seems that Kraken might be interested in picking and turning the Russian winger. The same goes for another expensive talent like Voracek in Philadelphia. Just do not think it is worth the cost of bringing these contracts in. Seattle’s cap flexibility is the biggest weapon they have right now.

In the net, however, I could not miss the chance to get bishop. Sure he may not be the same or even playing because of his injury history, but there is not much else available in Dallas. Unless they can get a deal with a UFA-like Jamie Oleksiak or Sami Vatanen, why not take a chance on a goalkeeper who has one of the best save percentages in history. Although Bishop is not playing, Driedger and Vanecek are good enough to hold the fort for an expansion team, while Kahkonen is still exempt from exemption and can be stashed in smaller leagues.

All four teams we have selected probably have a chance to do well in 2021-22, although Kraken could obviously start selling assets right away and build for a better future on the road.

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