Written By: Connor Williams (Written on July 16th)
The wait is (almost) over. On July 21st, The NHL will officially field a 32nd roster of professional hockey players. I could not be more excited for the Seattle Kraken to finally assemble a roster and begin competing in the National Hockey League. A decade ago, I spent my summer days playing NHL 11 on my XBOX 360 creating various Seattle hockey teams with a navy blue and lime green color scheme. Fast forward to last year, my dreams of a Seattle hockey club came to fruition. Although the team is not using navy and lime, (its ok they have the best uniforms in pro sports) I am still ready to release the Kraken. I will spare you the repetition of the rules and exemptions of the expansion draft, but you are free to read them on your own. Here is my best shot at predicting the Kraken’s roster ahead of the expansion draft.
Anaheim Ducks: Kevin Shattenkirk $3.9M – Exp 2023
Stanley Cup Champion, Kevin Shattenkirk seems like a pretty obvious choice here. Anaheim has a pretty weak roster and Shattenkirk is a veteran defender that can run a top powerplay unit for a young Seattle team. He has a low cap hit and is signed until 2023. He could easily be flipped for a 2nd round pick if Seattle isn’t immediately competitive. Anaheim likely wants to get rid of the awful Adam Henrique contract, but since they’re not an immediate contender, I don’t see them willing to pay the price for Seattle to absorb the financial burden.
Arizona Coyotes: Dryden Hunt: $750K-RFA
Hunt showed some promise in the bottom six last year. Arizona is a pretty weak team, but Hunt could be a physical bottom six player that could bring some spice to the Kraken.
Boston Bruins: Trent Frederic: $925K-2023
Boston has a complicated situation. As it stands now, I have the Bruins protecting Jake DeBrusk over Trent Frederic and Craig Smith, but this one is a toss-up. DeBrusk has recently fallen out of favor amongst the New England fan base, but I can’t see management just giving up on the 24-year-old. This will leave Frederic and veteran Craig Smith exposed. I think Seattle chooses the cheaper, younger, option and picks Frederic. He projects as a solid, bottom six, physical player with some scoring upside. He’s a versatile forward that can play all three positions and could get a large role on the Kraken.
Buffalo Sabres: Colin Miller $3.875M-2022
Buffalo is a really interesting team. They have a franchise player that will 100% be traded after the expansion draft and an organization that is struggling to find an identity. I have Seattle taking Defenseman, Colin Miller, a right-handed powerplay specialist. He was selected by Vegas in the last expansion draft, and has built a solid career with a booming shot and above average puck moving ability. However, I think Buffalo may be a trade candidate. Somehow, there are rumors of a Jack Eichel to Seattle blockbuster trade, but I think this is unlikely. Sabres GM, Kevyn Adams desperately wants to rid the Kyle Okposo contract. With 2 years and $6 million left, I think the Sabres’ best play would be to just eat Okposo’s contract and not do anything rash. They aren’t contenders and they will be unloading Eichel, Ristolainen, and Sam Reinhart’s contracts, absolving any necessity to rid Okposo’s salary. Buuuuuutttt, you never really know with Buffalo….
Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano: $6.75M-2022
Calgary is a serious candidate for an expansion trade. I have a hard time believing they would expose their captain and lose him for nothing, but I have an even harder time believing that they would protect 37 year old Giordano over Chris Tanev. Calgary is several players away from being a serious contender, but they have too many good players in their prime to enact a total rebuild. They are one of the most interesting teams heading into this offseason. What they do this summer will define their team for the next decade.
Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Bean $863K-RFA
Seattle gets their Shea Theodore. Bean will likely be exposed as Carolina has a plethora of good players to protect. He’s an unproven youngster, but he has all of the offensive talent to become a force on Seattle’s blueline for years. He can skate, move the puck, and run a powerplay. Carolina will sorely miss Jake Bean.
Chicago Blackhawks: Ryan Carpenter $1M-2022
Chicago doesn’t have a ton of talent to choose from, so the Kraken will select a solid penalty killer in Ryan Carpenter.
Colorado Avalanche: Joonas Donskoi $3.9M-2023
I think Colorado will have to package a 2nd or 3rd round pick to sweeten the pot, but Seattle gets a versatile forward that can play any position on any line.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Kevin Stenlund $874K-2022
Seattle will choose Stenlund over Eric Robinson on the sole fact that he has more years of team control as an RFA. Stenlund can be a solid 3rd liner that shows some offensive upside.
Dallas Stars: Jason Dickinson $1.5M-RFA
Seattle picks another young forward that can play multiple positions throughout the lineup. I think they stay away from the often-injured Ben Bishop and his massive contract.
Detroit Red Wings: Evgeny Svechnikov $874K-RFA
Seattle picks up underachieving winger Evgeny Svechnikov who can provide some scoring upside if he puts his game together. He is in desperate need of a change in scenery.
Edmonton Oilers: Jujhar Khaira $1.2M-RFA
Seattle picks another solid two way forward who can provide some penalty killing experience.
Florida Panthers: Lucas Wallmark $950K-RFA
Wallmark is another young forward that can provide some punch to Seattle’s bottom six. Florida may try to swing a deal for the Kraken to take Anton Strahlman, but it would be extremely costly.
Los Angeles Kings: Austin Wagner $1.1M-2023
Another bottom six grinder gets selected here.
Minnesota Wild: Carson Soucy $2.75M-2023
Seattle picks up a massive shut down defenseman that can solidify the left side of their blueline and make them harder to play against.
Montreal Canadiens: Jake Allen $4.4M-2023
I fully expect Allen to be traded ahead of the expansion draft as teams like Edmonton, Buffalo, and New Jersey need their goalie situation improved. However, if left exposed, Seattle won’t pass up on the veteran netminder. Keep an eye out for Jonathan Drouin. I don’t expect him to return to Montreal next year and a trade is likely, but he could be a sleeper pick for the expansion draft.
Nashville Predators: Ryan Johansen 8M-2025
Nashville will be exposing both Johansen and Duchene in this expansion draft in order to protect 4F and 4D. I can (almost) guarantee some sort of trade here. I think Nashville will have to package a high pick/prospect to get the Kraken to pick one of the two under achieving centers but both are prime candidates for a rebound season. I think Johansen gets picked as Duchene’s contract is slightly worse. At best, Johansen can get first line minutes and revitalize his career in Seattle. Worst case, he becomes a solid 3rd liner and a veteran leader.
New Jersey Devils: Nick Merkley $875K RFA
The Kraken don’t pickup the exposed P.K. Subban and opt to pick the young forward, Nick Merkley. Merkley is another versatile young forward that hasn’t quite put his whole game together.
New York Islanders: Nick Leddy $5.5M
The Islanders are desperately trying to move Leddy ahead of the draft, but I think their attempts will be unsuccessful. Seattle gladly scoops him up and adds him to their mobile blueline.
New York Rangers: Julien Gauthier $863K-RFA
I love Gauthier and I think he can be an impact player in the NHL. He plays a similar game to Tom Wilson, but within the rules of the game. He really hasn’t been given an everyday opportunity in the NHL and I think Seattle provides him with that chance.
Ottawa Senators: Joey Daccord $750K-2023
Not much to pick from Ottawa, Seattle elects to take a chance on a young netminder.
Philadelphia Flyers: Jakub Voracek $8.25M-2024
Seattle takes a risk and picks the veteran RW to compliment their first line. This could be a big mistake with a flat cap and Voracek’s contract, but he still produces at a respectable rate.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jason Zucker $5.5-2023
The Pens will have to package a pick for Seattle to pick Zucker over Blueger and Aston-Reese, but it is a worthwhile investment. Zucker is a terrific two-way winger, but he never really excelled under Mike Sullivan. I think he revitalizes his career in Seattle and returns to scoring 20 goals a year.
San Jose Sharks: Rudolfs Balcers $735K-RFA
San Jose is a team that is almost impossible to predict. They’re in NHL limbo between rebuild and contender. They’re stocked with aging veterans on horrible contracts and I can’t see Seattle biting on any of them without incentive. I think San Jose has to make a deal here, but they don’t have the capital to entice Seattle with one of their aging vets. I think San Jose leaves Evander Kane exposed and tries to trade his contract in order to clear cap space and give him a fresh start. However, I don’t think Seattle will pick him. I don’t think he fits the culture of the team. I think Seattle elects to play it safe and pick a low-risk depth player.
St. Louis Blues: Sammy Blais $1.5M-2022
St. Louis has a few players that could be good pickups for Seattle. I think St. Louis ships out Tarasenko prior to the draft, enabling them to protect Blais. If this happens Ivan Barbashev or Vince Dunn becomes prey for the Kraken.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Tyler Johnson $5M-2024
The hometown boy gets picked here, and I think Seattle gets at least a first-round pick for taking him. Tampa has to make a trade to clear space so one of Stamkos/Killorn/Palat/Gourde/McDonough will be added or taken here. Stamkos being traded this offseason isn’t as crazy as it sounds..
Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Kerfoot $3.5M-2023
Toronto elects to protect 4&4 leaving Kerfoot and Engvall exposed. Toronto needs the cap space and will have to package a 2nd for Seattle to take Kerfoot, who is a serviceable forward.
Vancouver Canucks: Braden Holtby $4.3-2022
Holtby becomes Seattle’s starting goaltender and regains his footing a la Marc-Andre Fleury.
Washington Capitals: Brendan Dillon $3.9M-2024
I think the Capitals are in a position to make a trade with Seattle. Kuznetsov is rumored to be available, but I can’t see them leaving him unprotected. Seattle picks Dillon and adds a phsycial force on the blueline.
Winnipeg Jets: Mason Appleton $900K-2022
Appleton gets grabbed by Seattle. A middle six forward with scoring potential, he could be a breakout candidate with the right setting.
All in all, I think Seattle comes out of this draft with more talent than Vegas did, but I don’t expect them to have the same success. I think the goal is to stockpile some picks and prospects for GM Ron Francis to develop. We’ll find out on July 21st…