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  • Jett

Seattle Kraken Mock Expansion Draft 1.0

Updated: May 14, 2021

This July, the Seattle Kraken will select the first 30 players in their franchise’s history during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. One player will be selected from each existing team in the league, with the exception of the Vegas Golden Knights- who were an expansion franchise themselves just four years ago.

Each of the other 30 franchises will be able to protect players from their current rosters, totaling either 9 or 11, depending on the positional alignment of the protections. Teams can either protect a group of 8 skaters and 1 goalie, or 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie. The notable difference is that if a team would like to ensure they retain 4 or more defensemen, they will have to protect fewer forwards. All players with “no movement clauses” are required to be protected by their current team, unless that player chooses to waive the clause in their contract. No first- or second-year players are eligible to be selected by the Kraken and they do not count toward a team’s protected list.

Among the players each team chooses to leave unprotected, a minimum of 2 forwards and 1 defenseman must be under contract for 2021-22 while also playing 27 games in the 2020-21 season. Every team must also expose one goaltender for potential selection by Seattle; the only requirement is the netminder is under contract for 2021-22 or a pending restricted free agent (RFA). This does not mean Seattle is required to choose a player in these categories; they are free to choose any eligible, unprotected player from the other organizations.

*At this point in the season, many teams will not meet the exposure requirements, and roster adjustments will be made prior to the expansion draft.

The Kraken will be required to select a minimum of 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders. The remaining 4 selections can be players from any position group. Seattle also has to select players whose contracts total a minimum of 60% and a maximum of 100% of the 2020-21 salary cap, which is $81.5 million. This ensures the franchise starts on a level playing field with all of the existing organizations. Teams are also able to negotiate trades with the Kraken involving additional players and/or draft picks if they wish to entice the expansion franchise to select, or refrain from selecting, a certain player(s).

Vegas showed how good of a team can be built from this exact set of expansion draft rules, making the Stanley Cup Final in their first year as an organization in the NHL. They made a handful of trades during the draft process, many of which worked in their favor. Based on that, it wouldn’t be surprising to see be teams less keen on moving additional assets in order to protect extra players. However, based on the flat, or near flat, salary cap expected for the near future, teams may resort to offering assets to Seattle in exchange for selecting a player with a larger salary cap hit from their roster. A team may need to shed salary this offseason and Seattle could be the perfect place to dump said salary, if the cap-strapped team is willing to part with the necessary draft picks and/or additional players.

The most complicated part of expansion drafts is pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs). If a pending UFA were selected, Seattle would have exclusive negotiating rights with the player for a short time between the expansion draft and free agency. Selecting a pending UFA comes with a significant amount of risk for the Kraken. The player could have already decided they are re-signing with their prior team, simply choosing not to, officially, sign as a way to allow their team to protect an additional player. This pending UFA also would not count toward the 60% minimum salary threshold for the roster, unless they sign with Seattle before the start of free agency.

This is a very nuanced portion of the expansion draft process. I suspect Seattle will be unlikely to select a pending unrestricted free agent during the draft. Pending UFAs will be listed as their own group with each team, separate from their protected list. A select few pending UFAs, which I view as highly likely to sign extensions with their current organizations, and likely prior to the expansion draft, are included on protected lists.

With the ins and outs of the expansion draft explained, let’s jump right into my first projections for each team’s protected lists and who Seattle will be selecting to form their team. Teams will be presented in alphabetical order, followed by a complete 30-player Seattle roster projection.

Anaheim Ducks

Protecting 8 Skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Jakob Silfverberg (2) Rickard Rakell (3) Troy Terry (4) Sam Steel

Defensemen- (1) Cam Fowler (2) Hampus Lindholm (3) Josh Manson (4) Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalie- John Gibson

Notables Exempt- (1) Trevor Zegras (2) Max Comtois (3) Jamie Drysdale

Notable UFA- (1) Ryan Getzlaf

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Adam Henrique (2) Max Jones (3) Derek Grant (4) Isac Lundestrom

The Pick- Isac Lundestrom (21-year-old Center, RFA)

Adam Henrique is intriguing in this slot, given his experience and presence as a, likely, second-line center. However, his age and contract aren’t the most ideal. The Kraken will surely reach the minimum threshold, making it worth their while to take some chances on young, cheap talent with upside. Lundestrom is a riskier choice, but Seattle can afford it in this slot.

Arizona Coyotes

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Clayton Keller (2) Phil Kessel (3) Nick Schmaltz (4) Christian Dvorak (5) Conor Garland (6) Christian Fischer (7) Lawson Crouse

Defensemen- (1) Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2) Jakob Chychrun (3) Kyle Capobianco

Goalie- Darcy Kuemper

Notable Exempt- (1) Barrett Hayton

Notable UFA- (1) Alex Goligoski (2) Niklas Hjalmarsson (3) Jordan Oesterle (4) Derick Brassard (5) Antti Raanta

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Tyler Pitlick (2) Johan Larsson (3) Frederik Gauthier

The Pick- Tyler Pitlick (29-year-old Right Wing, 1 year/$1.75 million AAV remaining)

Arizona doesn’t have a plethora of ideal options for the Kraken. With 5 pending UFAs, the Coyotes can elect to protect a larger group of young players that likely would have been of interest to Seattle. Based on the current list, Pitlick could provide a solid depth forward option.

Boston Bruins

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Patrice Bergeron (2) David Pastrnak (3) Brad Marchand (4) Charlie Coyle (5) David Krejci (6) Jake DeBrusk (7) Trent Frederic

Defensemen- (1) Charlie McAvoy (2) Matt Grzelcyk (3) Brandon Carlo

Goalie- Tuukka Rask

Notable Exempt- (1) Jack Studnicka

Notable UFA- (1) Sean Kuraly

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Craig Smith (2) Ondrej Kase (3) Anders Bjork (4) Nick Ritchie (5) Chris Wagner (6) Karson Kuhlman (7) Connor Clifton (8) Jakub Zboril

The Pick- Nick Ritchie (25-year-old Left Wing, RFA)

Boston, regardless of who they protect, is going to be a team leaving plenty of enticing options for the Kraken. Ondrej Kase is likely the most talented player available in this scenario, but his significant injury history is concerning. Ritchie looks to be growing into a strong power forward with a nice scoring touch around the crease. At only 25, there is still time to develop into an ideal power play net-front presence and top-six winger.

Buffalo Sabres

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Jack Eichel (2) Jeff Skinner (3) Kyle Okposo (4) Sam Reinhart (5) Victor Olofsson (6) Tage Thompson (7) Casey Mittelstadt

Defensemen- (1) Rasmus Ristolainen (2) Rasmus Dahlin (3) Henri Jokiharju

Goalie- Linus Ullmark

Notable Exempt- (1) Dylan Cozens

Notable UFA- (1) Taylor Hall (2) Eric Staal (3) Brandon Montour (4) Jake McCabe

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Cody Eakin (2) Zemgus Girgensons (3) Colin Miller (4) Will Borgen

The Pick- Will Borgen (24-year-old Right-shot Defenseman, RFA)

Based on the other players available throughout the expansion draft, Seattle is unlikely to have a hard time finding third-line players like Eakin and Girgensons, and defense will be a deep position for the Kraken. Miller has offensive upside, and played well during his post-expansion stint in Vegas, but the younger defenseman with more upside, in Borgen, is the pick here.

Calgary Flames

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Matthew Tkachuk (2) Johnny Gaudreau (3) Sean Monahan (4) Milan Lucic (5) Elias Lindholm (6) Andrew Mangiapane (7) Dillon Dube

Defensemen- (1) Mark Giordano (2) Noah Hanifin (3) Rasmus Andersson

Goalie- Jacob Markstrom

Notable Exempt- (1) Jusso Valimaki

Notable UFA- (1) Josh Leivo (2) Derek Ryan (3) David Rittich

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Mikael Backlund (2) Sam Bennett (3) Chris Tanev

The Pick- Mikael Backlund (32-year-old Center, 3 years/$5.35 million AAV remaining)

Top-six centermen aren’t going to be prevalent in this expansion draft; this isn’t surprising as it is a valuable position. After passing on Henrique with the selection from Anaheim, this is a pick Seattle needs to make. A responsible 200-foot player who can be on a second power play unit and kill penalties provides the versatility that seems to be of importance to teams during these drafts. Backlund will also fill a leadership role in Seattle.

Carolina Hurricanes

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Sebastian Aho (2) Jordan Staal (3) Teuvo Teravainen (4) Nino Niederreiter (5) Vincent Trochek (6) Warren Foegele (7) Andrei Svechnikov

Defensemen- (1) Jaccob Slavin (2) Brett Pesce (3) Jake Bean

Goalie- Alex Nedeljkovic

Notable Exempt- (1) Martin Necas

Notable UFA- (1) Dougie Hamilton (2) James Reimer (3) Petr Mrazek (4) Jordan Martinook (5) Brock McGinn

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Jesper Fast (2) Brady Skjei (3) Jake Gardiner (4) Haydn Fleury

The Pick- Haydn Fleury (24-year-old Left-shot Defensemen, 1 year/$1.3 million AAV remaining)

The Hurricanes are almost certain to lose a young, talented defensemen to the Kraken. The question is which one. Bean was protected in this mock as he is younger and further from cashing in on his bigger payday, which is important in a flat cap world. Skjei is on the list, but don’t expect Seattle to do any teams any favors without an incentive (draft picks or other players). Fleury will be a nice piece to add what already looks to be a strong, young defensive corps.

Chicago Blackhawks

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Patrick Kane (2) Jonathan Toews (3) Alex DeBrincat (4) Dylan Strome (5) David Kampf (6) Lucas Wallmark (7) Alex Nylander

Defensemen- (1) Duncan Keith (2) Connor Murphy (3) Nikita Zadorov

Goalie- Kevin Lankinen

Notable Exempt- (1) Dominik Kubalik (2) Pius Suter (3) Kirby Dach (4) Adam Boqvist

Notable Retired- (1) Brent Seabrook

Notable UFA- (1) Mattias Janmark (2) Carl Soderberg

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Andrew Shaw (2) Ryan Carpenter (3) Matthew Highmore (4) Malcolm Subban

The Pick- Malcolm Subban (27-year-old Goalie, 1 year/$850,000 AAV remaining)

Seabrook retiring helps the Blackhawks immensely when it comes to their protected list. He had a no movement clause in his contract, meaning he would have been included on their list of defensemen (unless he waived the clause). In turn, either Murphy or Zadorov would have likely been exposed, and selected by the Kraken. With the defensemen of interest protected, and the 3-goalie requirement for Seattle, Subban fits nicely as the depth goaltender within the organization.

Colorado Avalanche

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Mikko Rantanen (2) Nathan MacKinnon (3) Gabriel Landeskog (4) Andre Burakovsky (5) Nazem Kadri (6) Joonas Donskoi (7) J.T. Compher

Defensemen- (1) Erik Johnson (2) Samuel Girard (3) Cale Makar

Goalie- Philipp Grubauer

Notable Exempt- (1) Bowan Byram (2) Conor Timmins

Notable UFA- (1) Brandon Saad (2) Matt Calvert (3) Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Valeri Nichushkin (2) Tyson Jost (3) Devon Toews (4) Ryan Graves (5) Pavel Francouz (6) Jonas Johansson

The Pick- Devon Toews (27-year-old Left-shot Defenseman, 3 years/$4.1 million AAV remaining)

This pick is going to involve an Avalanche defenseman; there is no way for them to protect all of their desirable players at the position without losing an elite forward in the process. Even if Johnson were to waive his no movement clause, he would likely not be the selection, and one of Toews or Graves would still be available. Toews, in this scenario is the pick because of the offensive upside he is showing this season. Graves, coming off of leading the NHL in plus/minus a year ago, is also young and on an affordable contract. There isn’t necessarily a wrong answer between the two, but Toews is showing that he is a high-end defenseman in this league.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Cam Atkinson (2) Nick Foligno (3) Max Domi (4) Patrik Laine (5) Boone Jenner (6) Oliver Bjorkstrand (7) Jack Roslovic

Defensemen- (1) Seth Jones (2) Zach Werenski (3) Vladislav Gavrikov

Goalie- Joonas Korpisalo

Notable Exempt- (1) Alexandre Texier (2) Liam Foudy (3) Elvis Merzlikins

Notable UFA- (1) Riley Nash (2) Brandon Dubinsky (3) David Savard

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Gustav Nyquist (2) Dean Kukan

The Pick- Dean Kukan (27-year-old Left-shot Defenseman, 1 year/$1.65 million AAV remaining)

Regardless of whether or not Columbus comes to an agreement with their captain, Foligno, on an extension, expect the Kraken to swipe up another blueliner with this selection. In all likelihood, one of Gavrikov or Kukan will be available and selected. With Jones and Werenski taking 2 of the 3 protected defenseman slots and a number of forwards worthy of keeping, this has the feeling of a pick that is unlikely to change over the next few months.

Dallas Stars

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Tyler Seguin (2) Jamie Benn (3) Joe Pavelski (4) Alexander Radulov (5) Roope Hintz (6) Denis Gurianov (7) Radek Faksa

Defensemen- (1) Esa Lindell (2) John Klingberg (3) Miro Heiskanen

Goalie- Ben Bishop

Notable Exempt- (1) Joel Kiviranta (2) Jake Oettinger

Notable UFA- (1) Andrew Cogliano (2) Blake Comeau (3) Jamie Oleksiak

Top Choice for Seattle- (1) Jason Dickinson (2) Andrej Sekera (3) Anton Khudobin

The Pick- Anton Khudobin (34-year-old Goalie, 2 years/$3.33 million AAV remaining)

Seattle has two good options with their pick from Dallas in the scenario in Khudobin and Dickinson. I side with the goalie here because they need to take 3 in the draft and Khudobin has shown that he can play well, especially in a split-time or backup role. Seattle would not be taking him to be their number one, which makes the pick quite sensible. Dickinson is intriguing, but there will be other opportunities throughout the draft to get similar players.

Detroit Red Wings

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Dylan Larkin (2) Anthony Mantha (3) Tyler Bertuzzi (4) Robby Fabbri (5) Michael Rasmussen (6) Adam Erne (7) Evgeny Svechnikov

Defensemen- (1) Troy Stecher (2) Filip Hronek (3) Dennis Cholowski

Goalie- Thomas Greiss

Notable Exempt- (1) Filip Zadina

Notable UFA- (1) Darren Helm (2) Marc Staal (3) Luke Glendening (4) Bobby Ryan (5) Jonathan Bernier (6) Valtteri Filppula

Top Options for Seattle- (1) Frans Nielsen (2) Vladislav Namestnikov (3) Christian Djoos

The Pick- Vladislav Namestnikov (28-year-old Right Wing, 1 year/$2 million AAV remaining)

Namestnikov makes the most sense here as he is a skilled player with the ability to play in the middle-six of a lineup on what is essentially a one-year deal. If Seattle doesn’t like the fit during the season, he can be traded as a rental to a team looking for depth, or Seattle may like the player and consider extending him. The other consideration would be Djoos, who is appealing as a defenseman but has been in the league for a few years now and hasn’t shown he can be much more than a third pair player. There are younger options with more upside at the position from other teams.

Edmonton Oilers

Protecting 8 Skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Connor McDavid (2) Leon Draisaitl (3) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (4) Kailer Yamamoto

Defensemen- (1) Darnell Nurse (2) Oscar Klefbom (3) Ethan Bear (4) Caleb Jones

Goalie- Alex Stalock

Notable Exempt- (1) Evan Bouchard (2) Philip Broberg (3) Raphael Lavoie

Notable UFA- (1) Tyson Barrie (2) Mike Smith (3) Adam Larsson (4) Alex Chiasson (5) Tyler Ennis

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) James Neal (2) Zack Kassian (3) Jesse Puljujarvi (4) Kris Russell (5) Mikko Koskinen

The Pick- Jesse Puljujarvi (22-year-old Right Wing, 1 year/$1.175 million AAV remaining)

A significant factor in the Oilers’ protected list is whether they choose, and are able, to extend Nugent-Hopkins, Barrie, or both. I have elected to go with them striking a deal with Nugent-Hopkins first, because of Klefbom returning from injury next season; if Barrie were to leave, they have another high-end defenseman to fill the hole internally. If neither sign a deal, another skater spot would open up for protection. Depending on how Puljujarvi finishes the season, he could be a candidate to be protected, given age and cost. If Barrie were to sign, a player like Jones could be appealing for the same reasons as Puljujarvi: age, cost, and upside, but as a defenseman.

Florida Panthers

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Jonathan Huberdeau (2) Aleksander Barkov (3) Patric Hornqvist (4) Frank Vatrano (5) Anthony Duclair (6) Carter Verhaeghe (7) Henrik Borgstrom

Defensemen- (1) Aaron Ekblad (2) Keith Yandle (3) MacKenzie Weegar

Goalie- Sergei Bobrovsky

Notable Exempt- (1) Eetu Luostarinen (2) Owen Tippett (3) Chase Priskie

Notable UFA- (1) Alexander Wennberg (2) Vinnie Hinostroza (3) Chris Driedger

Top Options for Seattle: (1) Markus Nutivaara (2) Brett Connolly (3) Noel Acciari (4) Anton Stralman (5) Radko Gudas (6) Mason Marchment

The Pick- Markus Nutivaara (26-year-old Left-shot Defenseman, 1 year/$2.7 million AAV remaining)

In this scenario, the Kraken would likely be choosing from Acciari and Nutivaara. As per the theme of this draft, younger defensemen get the edge over most forwards (with some exceptions). Nutivaara is only 26 and has a reasonable cap hit for next season. Even if Seattle selects him with the intention of trading him during the offseason, he should be the pick in this slot.

Los Angeles Kings

Protecting 8 skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Anze Kopitar (2) Jeff Carter (3) Adrian Kempe (4) Austin Wagner

Defensemen- (1) Drew Doughty (2) Sean Walker (3) Matt Roy (4) Kale Clague

Goalie- Cal Petersen

Notable Exempt- (1) Quinton Byfield (2) Alex Turcotte (3) Arthur Kaliyev (4) Mikey Anderson

Notable UFA- (1) Alex Iafallo

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Dustin Brown (2) Lias Andersson (3) Blake Lizotte (4) Olli Maatta (5) Jonathan Quick

The Pick- Lias Andersson (22-year-old Center, RFA)

Jonathan Quick is the wild card for the Kings. The smart play for them would be to protect the younger, cheaper goaltender in Petersen, who has been the better netminder this season. Marc-Andre Fleury was selected during the Vegas expansion draft, but Quick is showing signs of a decline late in his career. With his salary, he doesn’t seem like a risk worth taking for the Kraken. They can afford to take a risk on a player like Andersson, a former 7th overall pick. At only 22, there is still time for him to develop into a productive player in the NHL, and his cap hit, even as a pending RFA, should remain low.

Minnesota Wild

Protecting 8 Skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Zach Parise (2) Mats Zuccarello (3) Kevin Fiala (4) Joel Eriksson Ek

Defensemen- (1) Jared Spurgeon (2) Ryan Suter (3) Matt Dumba (4) Jonas Brodin

Goalie- Kappo Kahkonen

Notable Exempt- (1) Kirill Kaprizov

Notable UFA- (1) Marcus Johansson (2) Nick Bonino (3) Ian Cole (4) Nick Bjugstad

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Victor Rask (2) Marcus Foligno (3) Jordan Greenway (4) Carson Soucy

The Pick- Jordan Greenway (24-year-old Left Wing, 1 year/$2.1 million AAV remaining)

Greenway might be one of the easier choices for Seattle in this draft, should he become available. This player has the look of a developing power forward in this league. Minnesota lost a comparable player to Vegas during the prior expansion draft in Alex Tuch, who has become a mainstay in the Golden Knights’ top six forward group. Greenway has developed more slowly than some may have hoped, but Seattle has a chance to hit a home run with this selection.

Montreal Canadiens

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Jonathan Drouin (2) Josh Anderson (3) Tyler Toffoli (4) Brendan Gallagher (5) Artturi Lehkonen (6) Jesperi Kotkaniemi (7) Jake Evans

Defensemen- (1) Shea Weber (2) Jeff Petry (3) Ben Chiarot

Goalie- Carey Price

Notable Exempt- (1) Nick Suzuki (2) Alexander Romanov (3) Cayden Primeau

Notable UFA- (1) Tomas Tatar (2) Philip Danault (3) Joel Armia

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Joel Edmundson (2) Victor Mete (3) Jake Allen

The Pick- Jake Allen (30-year-old Goalie, 2 years/$2.875 million AAV remaining) *cap hit during expansion draft is $4.35 million (new contract starts next season)*

After selecting Khudobin from Dallas earlier in the draft, Seattle finds the 1A to their new 1A/1B goaltending tandem. The league is shifting away from having one netminder play 65 games per year, with the exception of a select few teams with elite goaltenders. Having two strong goalies is needed to be successful over the course of the season, and the Kraken will have just that with the duo of Allen and Khudobin. Edmundson would also be a great option here as a top-four stay-at-home defenseman with an edge to his game, but this draft provides more quality options on defense than in goal.

Nashville Predators

Protecting 8 Skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Matt Duchene (2) Filip Forsberg (3) Viktor Arvidsson (4) Luke Kunin

Defensemen- (1) Roman Josi (2) Ryan Ellis (3) Mattias Ekholm (4) Dante Fabbro

Goalie- Juuse Saros

Notable Exempt- (1) Eeli Tolvanen

Notable UFA- (1) Pekke Rinne (2) Mikael Granlund (3) Erik Haula

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Ryan Johansen (2) Colton Sissons (3) Matt Benning (4) Connor Ingram (5) Calle Jarnkrok

The Pick- Calle Jarnkrok (29-year-old Center, 1 year/$2 million AAV remaining)

Jarnkrok is somewhat of a swiss army knife in the sense that he can fill various slots in the Seattle forward group. Mainly a middle-six player, he can slide up in the lineup if there are injuries, he can play on the power play, and he is useful on the penalty kill. Versatility is a trait that keeps players in the league for a long time, as well as playing a complete 200-foot game; Jarnkrok checks both boxes. Johansen could be left available as he carries a significant salary cap hit while his production has decreased over recent seasons. The fact that he is from Vancouver could create a link with the Kraken, but the money doesn’t seem to make sense without Nashville sweetening the deal.

New Jersey Devils

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Nico Hischier (2) Andreas Johnsson (3) Jesper Bratt (4) Miles Wood (5) Pavel Zacha (6) Nick Merkley (7) Janne Kuokkanen

Defensemen- (1) Damon Severson (2) Will Butcher (3) Ryan Murray

Goalie- Mackenzie Blackwood

Notable Exempt- (1) Jack Hughes (2) Jesper Boqvist (3) Nolan Foote (4) Ty Smith

Notable UFA- (1) Travis Zajac (2) Kyle Palmieri (3) Aaron Dell (4) Nikita Gusev (also exempt)

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) P.K. Subban (2) Yegor Sharangovich (3) Nathan Bastian

The Pick- P.K. Subban (31-year-old Right-shot Defenseman, 1 year/$9 million AAV remaining)

The decision New Jersey makes in terms of protecting Subban looms large in this draft. Murray is a pending UFA, meaning it isn’t necessary, at this point, to protect him. Subban could certainly fill the third slot for the defensemen New Jersey chooses to keep. Presuming Murray is either traded at the deadline or allowed to hit free agency, the final protected spot will come down to Subban or a young defender not currently on the NHL roster. Subban, despite his substantial cap hit, isn’t as risky of a pick as some may say, because he only has one year left on his contract. Regardless of performance, Seattle would have him off the books after one season. They could also move him near the deadline, should they feel inclined, as a rental. His name alone would likely spark interest in the franchise and he would benefit their power play. If Subban is protected, the Kraken could target whichever of the group of Sharangovich, Merkley, and Kuokkanen (in this mock, Sharangovich) is available.

New York Islanders

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Mathew Barzal (2) Anders Lee (3) Brock Nelson (4) Jordan Eberle (5) Josh Bailey (6) Jean-Gabriel Pageau (7) Anthony Beavillier

Defensemen- (1) Ryan Pulock (2) Adam Pelech (3) Nick Leddy

Goalie- Semyon Varlamov

Notable Exempt- (1) Oliver Wahlstrom (2) Noah Dobson (3) Ilya Sorokin

Notable UFA- (1) Casey Cizikas (2) Josh Ho-Sang (3) Andy Greene

Top Options for Seattle- (1) Cal Clutterbuck (2) Leo Komarov (3) Matt Martin (4) Kieffer Bellows (5) Scott Mayfield (6) Sebastian Aho

The Pick- Kieffer Bellows (22-year-old Left Wing, RFA)

Another high-upside pick for the Kraken comes in the form of Bellows, a former first-round pick and member of the 2017 gold medal winning U.S.A. World Junior Championships team. With only 20 games of NHL experience, Bellows has hardly had the chance to show his talents in the league and offers the most upside of any available Islanders. If he can develop into the player many expect, based on his days as a prospect, he could be a mainstay near the top of the Seattle lineup for years to come.

New York Rangers

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Artemi Panarin (2) Chris Kreider (3) Mika Zibanejad (4) Ryan Strome (5) Pavel Buchnevich (6) Filip Chytil (7) Brett Howden

Defensemen- (1) Jacob Trouba (2) Ryan Lindgren (3) Libor Hajek

Goalie- Alexandar Georgiev

Notable Exempt- (1) Adam Fox (2) Alexis Lafreniere (3) Kaapo Kakko (4) Igor Shesterkin (5) K’Andre Miller

Notable UFA- (1) Brendan Smith (2) Jack Johnson

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Brendan Lemieux (2) Julien Gauthier (3) Tony Deangelo (4) Anthony Bitetto

The Pick- Brendan Lemieux (25-year-old Left Wing, 1 year/$1.55 million AAV remaining)

With limited options of note for the Rangers, Lemieux seems like the best pick in this slot. A 25-year-old power forward who isn’t afraid to stir the pot and get under the opponents’ skin is a nice piece, especially when there is the potential for more offense than he has shown to this point. Lemieux likely would start in a third-line role, and potentially on the second power play unit, with the ability to move his way up the lineup if he can consistently contribute to the Seattle offense.

Ottawa Senators

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Evgeni Dadonov (2) Colin White (3) Connor Brown (4) Brady Tkachuk (5) Logan Brown (6) Drake Batherson (7) Vitaly Abramov

Defensemen- (1) Thomas Chabot (2) Josh Brown (3) Christian Wolanin

Goalie- Marcus Hogberg

Notable Exempt- (1) Tim Stutzle (2) Josh Norris (3) Erik Brannstrom

Notable UFA- (1) Erik Gudbranson (2) Braydon Coburn (3) Mike Reilly (4) Derek Stepan (5) Artem Anisimov (6) Ryan Dzingel

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Austin Watson (2) Nikita Zaitsev (3) Matt Murray (4) Chris Tierney

The Pick- Chris Tierney (26-year-old Center, 1 year/$3.5 million AAV remaining)

Ottawa, currently in a rebuild, has quite a few pending UFAs and many exempt prospects. This leaves Seattle with few options with their selection. Murray and Zaitsev both come with contracts with too much money and term remaining, leaving the Kraken, in this mock, deciding between Tierney and Watson. The younger Tierney also plays center, compared to Watson on the wing, making him the pick.

Philadelphia Flyers

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Claude Giroux (2) Jakub Voracek (3) Kevin Hayes (4) Travis Konecny (5) Sean Couturier (6) Oskar Lindblom (7) Nolan Patrick

Defensemen- (1) Ivan Provorov (2) Travis Sanheim (3) Philippe Myers

Goalie- Carter Hart

Notable Exempt- (1) Joel Farabee (2) Morgan Frost

Notable UFA- (1) Brian Elliott (2) Erik Gustufsson (3) Scott Laughton (4) Michael Raffl

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) James van Riemsdyk (2) Shayne Gostisbehere (3) Justin Braun (4) Robert Hagg

The Pick- Shayne Gostisbehere (27-year-old Left-shot Defenseman, 2 years/$4.5 million AAV remaining)

Philadelphia is going to be forced to leave some appealing players available for the Kraken to choose. Gostisbehere is the selection here because of his age and ceiling. He has shown, in the past, how effective he can be, especially in the offensive zone. There has been some regression in recent seasons, but at 27, a change of scenery could benefit his game. Despite the point production from van Riemsdyk this season, his age and salary are cause for concern. Seattle likely plans to ensure they have plenty of cap space remaining after the expansion draft to sign the restricted free agents they choose and potentially bring in other players via trade or free agency.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Sidney Crosby (2) Evgeni Malkin (3) Jake Guentzel (4) Jason Zucker (5) Bryan Rust (6) Brandon Tanev (7) Kasperi Kapanen

Defensemen- (1) Kris Letang (2) Brian Dumoulin (3) Marcus Pettersson

Goalie- Tristan Jarry

Notable Exempt- (1) John Marino (2) Pierre-Olivier Joseph

Notable UFA- (1) Colton Sceviour (2) Cody Ceci

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Jared McCann (2) Teddy Blueger (3) Zach Aston-Reese (4) Mark Jankowski (5) Mike Matheson (6) Chad Ruhwedel (7) Juuso Riikola

The Pick- Teddy Blueger (26-year-old Center, RFA)

Based on the start of the season, and the Penguins’ desire to find cap space, consideration could be given to leaving Kapanen exposed. His play, however, has been better of late so, in this mock, he is protected. Seattle, in a scenario with Kapanen available, may be inclined to go in that direction as young players with his talent won’t be regularly available. Blueger, however, will likely be given strong consideration, regardless of who else is available. His reliability in the defensive zone and his ability to kill penalties make him quite valuable. Also, at only 26, there may still be some room for offensive growth. Seattle, presumably, would be thrilled to add a player like Blueger to their third line and top penalty killing unit.

San Jose Sharks

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Logan Couture (2) Timo Meier (3) Tomas Hertl (4) Kevin Labanc (5) Ryan Donato (6) Alex True (7) Dylan Gambrell

Defensemen- (1) Erik Karlsson (2) Marc-Edouard Vlasic (3) Radim Simek

Goalie- Martin Jones

Notable Exempt- (1) Mario Ferraro

Notable UFA- (1) Marcus Sorensen (2) Stefan Noesen (3) Patrick Marleau (4) Devan Dubnyk

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Evander Kane (2) Brent Burns (3) Christian Jaros

The Pick- Brent Burns (36-year-old Right-shot Defenseman, 4 years/$8 million AAV remaining)

The Sharks have one of the uglier salary cap situations in the league, especially considering their placement in the standings. Leaving both Kane and Burns exposed shows their desire for salary relief, and Seattle may just bite on Burns. Having him under contract until he is 40 isn’t the most ideal, but this is the big risk play of the entire Kraken draft. Given the other blueliners Seattle has selected, they have the ability to take on Burns, and his contract, with the hopes of bringing in a player who will be great for fan engagement and still has some offensive upside. There are some similarities with Burns and Subban, but with Subban only having one year on his contract, the Kraken can make this work. If Seattle wants to stay away from the salaries of Burns and Kane, Jaros would be a solid pick as he, too, is a right-shot defenseman and is a pending RFA at only 24-years-old.

St. Louis Blues

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Ryan O’Reilly (2) Vladimir Tarasenko (3) Brayden Schenn (4) Oskar Sundqvist (5) Sammy Blais (6) Robert Thomas (7) Jordan Kyrou

Defensemen- (1) Torey Krug (2) Colton Parayko (3) Vince Dunn

Goalie- Jordan Binnington

Notable UFA- (1) Jaden Schwartz (2) Tyler Bozak (3) Mike Hoffman (4) Carl Gunnarsson

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Justin Faulk (2) Zach Sanford (3) Ivan Barbashev (4) David Perron

The Pick- Ivan Barbashev (25-year-old Center, RFA)

Given the selections of Burns and Subban, Faulk doesn’t make sense for the Kraken. The Blues choice, in this mock, to protect Dunn over Faulk comes down to their desire to trade Dunn this offseason rather than lose him to the Kraken for nothing in return. They can’t afford to give him a raise, but also realize leaving Faulk exposed either results in him not being selected, or getting much needed cap relief, should the Kraken bite. Barbashev would pair nicely, in this scenario, with Blueger on the third line and the penalty kill. Similar to a theme throughout this mock, Seattle is taking a player who has room to develop further. Barbashev is 25 and has shown his ability to contribute as a role player in the NHL. If there is more offense in him, that would be icing on the cake for the Kraken.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Nikita Kucherov (2) Steven Stamkos (3) Brayden Point (4) Ondrej Palat (5) Anthony Cirelli (6) Mathieu Joseph (7) Mitchell Stephens

Defensemen- (1) Victor Hedman (2) Mikhail Sergachev (3) Cal Foote

Goalie- Andrei Vasilevskiy

Notable UFA- (1) Blake Coleman (2) Barclay Goodrow

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Yanni Gourde (2) Tyler Johnson (3) Alex Killorn (4) Pat Marroon (5) Alexander Volkov* (6) Ryan McDonagh (7) Erik Cernak

The Pick- Erik Cernak (23-year-old Right-shot Defenseman, 2 years/$2.95 million AAV remaining)

Seattle should be thrilled to be drafting a player from the list exposed by the Lightning. Cernak, being a 23-year-old, right-shot defender is likely a fairly easy choice in this slot, presuming Tampa Bay doesn’t work out a deal to keep him. The Lightning, in this mock, wanted to prevent losing top prospect Cal Foote, and were willing to expose the more expensive Cernak to do so. Tampa is another team desperately needing cap space, so expect them to attempt to strike a deal with the Kraken to take at least one of their larger contracts in a multi-player and/or pick agreement. Something along the lines of Volkov and Gourde, or Volkov, McDonagh, and a pick could make sense, depending on how much salary the Kraken are willing to add. *

*Volkov has been traded to the Anaheim Ducks. This change will be reflected in the next mock draft, coming after the April 12th trade deadline.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Auston Matthews (2) John Tavares (3) Mitchell Marner (4) William Nylander (5) Alex Kerfoot (6) Zach Hyman (7) Pierre Engvall

Defensemen- (1) Jake Muzzin (2) T.J. Brodie (3) Morgan Rielly

Goalie- Jack Campbell

Notable Exempt- (1) Ilya Mikheyev (2) Nick Robertson (3) Rasmus Sandin

Notable UFA- (1) Wayne Simmonds (2) Alex Galchenyuk (3) Joe Thornton (4) Zach Bogosian (5) Frederik Andersen

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Travis Dermott (2) Justin Holl

The Pick- Travis Dermott (24-year-old Left-shot Defenseman, RFA)

Toronto’s ability and/or decision to re-sign Hyman prior to the expansion draft will likely determine the structure of their protected list. If he is not re-signed, and therefore not protected, the Leafs could go with the 8 skaters/1 Goalie list in order to protect one of Dermott or Holl, while leaving Engvall and Kerfoot exposed. Even in that scenario, Dermott would be the selection given age and position. A smooth-skating 24-year-old on the back end is an enticing option for Seattle. If Dermott were to be protected, in the scenario mentioned above, Holl would likely be the pick, over Engvall or Kerfoot.

Vancouver Canucks

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Brock Boeser (2) Bo Horvat (3) J.T. Miller (4) Jake Virtanen (5) Tyler Motte (6) Adam Gaudette (7) Elias Pettersson

Defensemen- (1) Nate Schmidt (2) Olli Juolevi (3) Brogan Rafferty

Goalie- Thatcher Demko

Notable Exempt- (1) Nils Hoglander (2) Quinn Hughes

Notable UFA- (1) Alex Edler (2) Tanner Pearson (3) Brandon Sutter (3) Jordie Benn

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Loui Eriksson (2) Antoine Roussel (3) Jay Beagle (4) Tyler Myers (5) Kole Lind (6) Braden Holtby

The Pick- Kole Lind (22-year-old Right Wing, RFA)

A theme is developing as teams are leaving players with high salaries unprotected in favor of younger, cheaper players. The older players making a higher salary may be less appealing to Seattle, essentially allowing teams to, informally, protect additional players, or teams will get the valuable cap relief if those costly players are selected. Don’t expect Seattle to pull the trigger often; they will take salary when it makes sense, but they will be looking for young talent like Lind as well. The 22-year-old had 44 points in 61 AHL games last season and has 8 points in 8 games there this year. He looks ready to make the jump to the NHL and Seattle may be the team that gives him a chance to do so.

Washington Capitals

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Alex Ovechkin (2) Nicklas Backstrom (3) Evgeny Kuznetsov (4) Tom Wilson (5) Lars Eller (6) Jakub Vrana (7) Daniel Sprong

Defensemen- (1) John Carlson (2) Brenden Dillon (3) Dmitry Orlov

Goalie- Ilya Samsonov

Notable Exempt- (1) Martin Fehervary (2) Alexander Alexeyev (3) Connor McMichael

Notable UFA- (1) Henrik Lundqvist (2) Conor Sheary (3) Zdeno Chara

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) T.J. Oshie (2) Justin Schultz (3) Vitek Vanecek (4) Jonas Siegenthaler (5) Nick Jensen (6) Trevor van Riemsdyk (7) Nic Dowd (8) Garnet Hathaway

The Pick- Jonas Siegenthaler (23-year-old Left-shot Defenseman, RFA)

Seattle will likely be choosing between Oshie, Siegenthaler, and Vanecek if this is the list Washington protects. They could protect Oshie instead of Sprong, but Sprong’s salary and play this season make him worth protecting. Oshie has been speculated as going to Seattle for a while, especially considering he was born in Washington and would make an excellent first captain for the new franchise. I am hesitant to think Seattle will simply take Oshie and move on, considering the Capitals have a young, talented, stay-at-home defenseman in Siegenthaler and a young netminder in Vanecek who has shown himself quite nicely this season. The Capitals likely would be least willing to lose Vanecek, in hopes of maintaining their strong goaltending duo. Could Oshie and Siegenthaler both be headed west as a result? It is certainly possible. But, for now, Siegenthaler is the pick while Oshie, and his contract, remain in D.C.

Winnipeg Jets

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Blake Wheeler (2) Kyle Connor (3) Mark Scheifele (4) Nikolaj Ehlers (5) Pierre-Luc Dubois (6) Adam Lowry (7) Andrew Copp

Defensemen- (1) Josh Morrissey (2) Neal Pionk (3) Dylan DeMelo

Goalie- Connor Hellebuyck

Notable Exempt- (1) Cole Perfetti

Notable UFA- (1) Paul Stastny (2) Mathieu Perreault (3) Trevor Lewis (4) Derek Forbort (5) Tucker Poolman (6) Laurent Brossoit

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Mason Appleton (2) Nathan Beaulieu (3) Sami Niku

The Pick- Sami Niku (24-year-old Left-shot Defenseman, 1 year/$725,000 AAV remaining)

The Jets have a slew of UFAs, meaning fewer players are going to be available for the Kraken. Of the three listed, Appleton and Niku have the most appeal, but Niku is the defenseman, giving him the edge. Whether or not Seattle sees him as a part of their future, selecting him would give the Kraken, at minimum, a tradeable asset that they could use to acquire another player or a draft pick to help them down the line.

Seattle’s 30 Selections by Position

Forwards (15)

Isac Lundestrom

Tyler Pitlick

Nick Ritchie

Mikael Backlund

Vladislav Namestnikov

Jesse Puljujarvi

Lias Andersson

Jordan Greenway

Calle Jarnkrok

Kieffer Bellows

Brendan Lemiux

Chris Tierney

Teddy Blueger

Ivan Barbashev

Kole Lind

Defensemen (12)

Will Borgen

Haydn Fleury

Devon Toews

Dean Kukan

Markus Nutivaara

P.K. Subban

Shayne Gostisbehere

Brent Burns

Erik Cernak

Travis Dermott

Jonas Siegenthaler

Sami Niku

Goalies (3)

Malcolm Subban

Anton Khudobin

Jake Allen

The opening night 23-man roster for Seattle will, in all likelihood, include players not currently on this list, or the list they actually draft in a few months. Some of these players may be traded between the expansion draft and the start of the season, potentially prior to the NHL entry draft and the start of free agency. These 30 players will simply be the base group of players the Kraken front office will begin their offseason with as they prepare to shape their roster for opening night in their inaugural season.

All salary cap date courtesy of CapFriendly

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