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  • Jett

Seattle Kraken Mock Expansion Draft 2.0

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

Now that the trade deadline is a few weeks in the rear-view mirror, and the playoffs are quickly approaching, teams’ rosters seem to be pretty close to set. With that in mind, it seems like a good time to take another crack at a Seattle Kraken expansion mock draft.

Some teams traded away players that may have been protected in my first mock, others added players with term and are likely to be protected. A few players signed extensions with their teams, moving them from pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) to protection candidates. Many teams’ lists are slightly altered, and some are the same.

One of the requirements regarding the Seattle selections is that 20 of the 30 selections must be under contract for the upcoming 2021-2022 season, so they will not be able to select more than 10 players who are pending UFAs or restricted free agents (RFAs). That requirement is met in this mock with exactly 20 selections under contract for next season.

The protected lists in this mock reflect a shift in philosophy from my previous draft. In the prior article, I included a large number of pending UFAs in the protected lists, given my expectation that those players would be returning to their teams on new contracts. After researching further, it became apparent that teams are willing to leave pending UFAs unprotected and sign those players after the expansion draft, but prior to the opening of free agency. This is, in part, because the expansion franchise doesn’t gain much from drafting those players. If the player wants to sign with Seattle, in this case, the Kraken would be better suited to wait until free agency to sign the player and select someone else in the expansion draft. Teams know this reality and will likely use it as a way to informally protect extra players.

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) Haydn Fleury

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 (5) Kevin Shattenkirk (6) Alexander Volkov

The Pick- Adam Henrique (31-year-old Center, 3 years/$5.825 million AAV Remaining)

A notable shift comes right off the bat as I have the Kraken taking the veteran, Henrique, over the young prospect, Lundestrom. This is, in part, due to a shift in the protected lists of other teams, which will be shown later. Seattle will need to sprinkle veteran leaders with proven talent throughout their roster, and Henrique will be a nice fit in their top six.

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 (4) Adin Hill

The Pick- Adin Hill (24-year-old Goalie, RFA)

Another area in which significant changes will be seen in this mock compared to the first is between the pipes. The goaltenders selected in this draft are a much different group than the prior. Hill has shown flashes in Arizona and makes a lot of sense of the Kraken. At only 24, he still has plenty of time to develop into a quality NHL netminder. He doesn’t need to be a contributor right away, however, as Seattle must take at least 3 goaltenders.

Boston Bruins

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

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

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

Goalie- Daniel Vladar

Notable Exempt- (1) Jeremy Swayman (2) Jack Studnicka

Notable UFA- (1) David Krejci (2) Sean Kuraly (3) Tuukka Rask (4) Jaroslav Halak (5) Taylor Hall (6) Mike Reilly

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Ondrej Kase (2) Curtis Lazar (3) Nick Ritchie (4) Chris Wagner (5) Karson Kuhlman (6) Connor Clifton (7) Jakub Zboril (8) Jeremy Lauzon

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

By moving Krejci and Rask from protected to pending UFA, the Bruins are able to protect the promising young goalie, Vladar, as well as Craig Smith, whose play has improved dramatically since the Bruins acquired Hall at the trade deadline. The final forward protected came down to Smith and Ritchie, and Smith was the pick because of the cost certainty provided by the two years remaining on his current contract. Ritchie, a pending RFA, will need a new deal, and Boston has many other contract decisions to work out with players like Krejci, Rask and Hall. Seattle will have no issues affording Ritchie and he has a chance to grow into a strong power forward with more playing time.

Buffalo Sabres

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

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

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

Goalie- Dustin Tokarski

Notable Exempt- (1) Dylan Cozens

Notable UFA- (1) Jake McCabe (2) Linus Ullmark

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)

The only significant changes in Buffalo this year were departures amongst their pending UFAs, as many were traded to contending teams around the deadline. In terms of the pick for Seattle, Borgen continues to look like the best option. Young defensemen are a commodity, and I would think Seattle has this player on their radar.

Calgary Flames

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Matthew Tkachuk (2) Johnny Gaudreau (3) Sean Monahan (4) Mikael Backlund (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

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Chris Tanev (2) Matthew Phillips (3) Milan Lucic (Officially waived No Move Clause)

The Pick- Matthew Phillips (23-year-old Center, RFA)

Milan Lucic officially waving his no move clause impacted this mock significantly. Prior to this, I was locked in on Mikael Backlund being left unprotected and ultimately selected by the Kraken. Lucic, had he not waived, would have been required to be protected. He is unlikely to be selected by Seattle, given his salary and his production in recent seasons. Making this move allows the team to protect a player like Backlund, while Lucic, in all likelihood will get to remain in Calgary, which he is said to prefer. Phillips becomes an intriguing option in this slot, given the changes, as he is only 23 and has put up impressive point totals in both junior hockey and the American Hockey League (AHL). This type of upside is hard to come by and should intrigue the Seattle front office.

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

The Pick- Jesper Fast (29-year-old Right Wing, 2 years/$2 million AAV remaining)

Carolina made a prudent move at the trade deadline by sending Fleury to Anaheim, as the Hurricanes would not have been able to protect him, and were likely to lose him for nothing. The move also eliminated the player who may have been the most interesting for the Kraken. Now, in this mock, they pivot to Fast, a solid two-way winger on a manageable contract for only two more seasons. He can come in and contribute in, likely, a middle-six role and won’t put the team in a salary cap bind during the two seasons remaining on his contract.

Chicago Blackhawks

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Patrick Kane (2) Jonathan Toews (3) Alex DeBrincat (4) Dylan Strome (5) Adam Gaudette (6) Henrik Borgstrom (7) Alex Nylander

Defensemen- (1) Duncan Keith (2) Riley Stillman (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 (2) Andrew Shaw

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Brett Connolly (2) Ryan Carpenter (3) David Kampf (4) Malcolm Subban (5) Connor Murphy

The Pick- Connor Murphy (28-year-old Right-shot Defenseman, 1 year/$3.85 million AAV remaining)

The defenseman left unprotected by Chicago will likely be the selection. One player from the group of Stillman, Zadorov and Murphy would be expected to be available, as it is doubtful the Blackhawks would ask Keith to waive his no move clause. On the surface, protecting a 23-year-old who has played less than Murphy this season could seem questionable. However, Chicago gave Stillman a 3-year extension, after acquiring him near the deadline, for a reason. They clearly like the player and shouldn’t be expected to leave a young defenseman with cost certainty unprotected. If he were available, Stillman would be the selection, but in this case, Murphy makes the most sense.

Colorado Avalanche

Protecting 8 Skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Mikko Rantanen (2) Nathan MacKinnon (3) Andre Burakovsky (4) Nazem Kadri

Defensemen- (1) Cale Makar (2) Samuel Girard (3) Devon Toews (4) Ryan Graves

Goalie- Pavel Francouz

Notable Exempt- (1) Bowan Byram (2) Conor Timmins (3) Alex Newhook

Notable UFA- (1) Gabriel Landeskog (2) Philipp Grubauer (3) Brandon Saad (4) Matt Calvert (5) Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (6) Carl Soderberg

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Valeri Nichushkin (2) Tyson Jost (3) Jonas Johansson (4) Erik Johnson* (5) Joonas Donskoi (6) J.T. Compher

*Waived No Movement Clause (in this mock)

The Pick- Valeri Nichushkin (26-year-old Wing, 1 year/$2.5 million AAV remaining)

Two key developments that must occur for this mock protected list to play out are Landeskog not reaching an extension agreement prior to the draft, and Johnson officially agreeing to waive his no move clause. If both of those occur, Colorado would be able to protect its 4 young defensemen and its top 4 forwards eligible for selection (and, essentially, 5, given the expectation that Landeskog eventually gets extended). This protected list would allow them to maintain the core of their roster that has many predicting them to be a Stanley Cup contender for years to come. Nichushkin becomes the pick for the Kraken because of his size and scoring touch around the net. In a bigger role, which is potentially available in Seattle, he could blossom into a solid second-line winger.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

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

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

Goalie- Joonas Korpisalo

Notable Exempt- (1) Alexandre Texier (2) Liam Foudy (3) Elvis Merzlikins (4) Emil Bemstrom

Notable UFA- (1) Brandon Dubinsky

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)

No major changes for the Blue Jackets in regards to the expansion draft. They traded away a couple of pending UFAs, including captain Nick Foligno who could return in free agency. The three protected defensemen remain unchanged, leaving Kukan available for Seattle. At 27, and with a low cap hit, he profiles as a prime candidate to be taken this summer.

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 (3) Jason Robertson

Notable UFA- (1) Andrew Cogliano (2) Blake Comeau (3) Jamie Oleksiak (4) Sami Vatanen

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

The Pick- Jason Dickinson (25-year-old Center, RFA)

Although there were no changes in the protected list for Dallas between this and the prior mock, the selection has changed from Khudobin to Dickinson. Based on other netminders available in the draft, Khudobin doesn’t need to be taken here, allowing the Kraken to pick up a 25-year-old center instead. Dickinson has shown well in a fairly limited role in Dallas and would be a candidate for more playing time in Seattle.

Detroit Red Wings

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Dylan Larkin (2) Jakub Vrana (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- Kaden Fulcher

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) Thomas Greiss

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

Given the lackluster numbers from Greiss this season, as well as his salary cap hit, Detroit may be willing to leave him unprotected in order to ensure they can retain the younger Fulcher. Greiss could be selected, but Namestnikov makes more sense in that he is a versatile forward who can play on the wing or at center, and has had productive seasons in the past, albeit more-so while playing with elite talent in Tampa Bay. With only one year remaining on the deal, this would be a fairly low risk choice where there aren’t many options to choose from.

Edmonton Oilers

Protecting 8 Skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Connor McDavid (2) Leon Draisaitl (3) Kailer Yamamoto (4) Dominik Kahun

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

Goalie- Alex Stalock

Notable Exempt- (1) Evan Bouchard

Notable UFA- (1) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2) Tyson Barrie (3) Mike Smith (4) Adam Larsson (5) Alex Chiasson (6) 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)

The biggest decision for the Oilers, aside from attempting to extend players like Nugent-Hopkins and/or Barrie, will likely be the final forward protected (presuming they want to protect 4 defensemen). Kahun has played well this season with Draisaitl, and Puljujarvi has seemed to want out of the organization in the past. With that in mind, Puljujarvi is left unprotected and selected by the Kraken.

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) Sam Bennett

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

Goalie- Sergei Bobrovsky

Notable Exempt- (1) Eetu Luostarinen (2) Owen Tippett

Notable UFA- (1) Alexander Wennberg (2) Chris Driedger (3) Brandon Montour (4) Nikita Gusev (also exempt)

Top Options for Seattle: (1) Markus Nutivaara (2) Lucas Wallmark (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)

Bennett has been excellent since he was acquired from Calgary and joins the Panthers’ protected list, replacing Borgstrom, who was traded to Chicago. The remainder of the Panthers’ list remains unchanged, again leaving Nutivaara available. A young forward like Marchment warrants consideration from the Kraken but, in the end, the value of a proven NHL defenseman with a reasonable cap hit is too much to pass up.

Los Angeles Kings

Protecting 8 skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Anze Kopitar (2) Alex Iafallo (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

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Dustin Brown (2) Lias Andersson (3) Blake Lizotte (4) Olli Maatta (5) Jonathan Quick (6) Andreas Anthanasiou (7) Brendan Lemieux (8) Carl Grundstrom (9) Kurtis MacDermid

The Pick- Carl Grundstrom (23-year-old Left Wing, 1 year/$725,000 AAV remaining)

During the last mock, Iafallo was a pending UFA and Jeff Carter was protected. In my preview of the West division, I speculated that Carter could become a trade candidate this season, and he ended up being traded to Pittsburgh (more on this to come below). On deadline day, Iafallo inked an extension with the Kings, resulting in him taking Carter’s spot on the protected list. The selection likely comes down to two players in this slot: Andersson and Grundstrom. Grundstrom was taken in this mock as he is under contract for next year, which helps to meet the requirement.

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- Cam Talbot

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 (5) Nico Sturm (6) Kaapo Kahkonen

The Pick- Carson Soucy (26-year-old Left-shot Defenseman, 2 years/$2.75 million AAV remaining)

One of the teams leaving Seattle with a handful of great options is Minnesota. They, arguably, have 5 protection-worthy defensemen, as well as at least 5 or 6 forwards, not to mention multiple netminders. Spurgeon, Suter, and Brodin all have no move clauses, meaning the only way for the Wild to protect Dumba is to go the 8-skater route. This means they can only protect 4 forwards, and Soucy is still unprotected as well. Greenway, Sturm and Kahkonen could all interest Seattle, but the defenseman with cost certainty, Soucy, is the choice.

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 (4) Cole Caufield

Notable UFA- (1) Tomas Tatar (2) Philip Danault (3) Joel Armia (4) Eric Staal (5) Erik Gustafsson

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

The Pick- Joel Edmundson (27-year-old Left-shot Defenseman, 3 years/$3.5 million AAV remaining)

Montréal is another team with no changes amongst their protected list. The pick, however, did change from the previous mock. Allen hasn’t had the best season, despite having some strong games, and the emergence of other, younger options allows the Kraken to shift their interest. Proven, top-four, defensemen in their prime won’t be common in this draft, so it would make sense for Seattle to pounce here, taking Edmundson.

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 (6) Nick Cousins

The Pick- Nick Cousins (27-year-old Center, 1 year/$1.5 million AAV remaining)

Nashville is another team that has 8 players highly likely to be protected; their 4 defensemen force them to go the route of 8 skaters instead of 7 forwards and 3 defensemen. Johansen’s salary cap hit is likely to keep him from being selected, although Seattle will likely at least consider him. Cousins has had a strong year for the Predators and plays a high-energy game that would be a welcome addition to many rosters in the league, including the Kraken. His contract is one that could bring good value to Seattle next season.

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) Yegor Sharangovich

Defensemen- (1) Damon Severson (2) Will Butcher (3) Jonas Siegenthaler

Goalie- Mackenzie Blackwood

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

Notable UFA- (1) Ryan Murray (2) Aaron Dell

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

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

Adding Siegenthaler at the deadline filled the fairly open position as the third protected defenseman for the Devils, as Subban has seemed likely to be left unprotected for a while. Last mock, Murray was protected simply to ensure Subban wasn’t. Now Siegenthaler fills the slot and Murray slides to his correct place as a pending UFA. The other notable change is protecting Sharangovich instead of Kuokkanen. Sharangovich has quietly had one of the stronger rookie seasons in the NHL and doesn’t look to be someone worth leaving unprotected. Any of the 3 options left open above could interest Seattle, but with cap space to work with and Subban only being on a one-year deal, the Kraken bring in a well-known player to ignite and connect with the fanbase.

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) Kyle Palmieri (2) Travis Zajac (3) Casey Cizikas (4) 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)

There has been some, although not prevalent, speculation that Varlamov could be left unprotected, in what I would presume to be an attempt for the Islanders to free up cap space and increase playing time for Sorokin. However, given that Sorokin is exempt, keeping the Russian goaltending tandem together makes more sense to me. It takes multiple quality netminders to win in this league and the Islanders are fortunate to have their duo. Bellows remains the pick as a young player with high upside that likely won’t break the bank with his second NHL contract.

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) Julien Gauthier (2) Tony Deangelo (3) Anthony Bitetto

The Pick- Julien Gauthier (23-year-old Right Wing, RFA)

The current construction of the Rangers puts them in one of the more enviable positions heading into the expansion draft. The core of their team includes a handful of players so early in their careers that they are exempt, including Norris Trophy candidate Adam Fox. With New York able to maintain its core players, there aren’t a ton of noteworthy options for Seattle. Gauthier, a young winger, may have the most upside here, making him the pick.

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) Victor Mete

Goalie- Marcus Hogberg

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

Notable UFA- (1) Derek Stepan (2) Artem Anisimov (3) Ryan Dzingel

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Austin Watson (2) Nikita Zaitsev (3) Matt Murray (4) Chris Tierney (5) Nick Paul (6) Michael Amadio

The Pick- Michael Amadio (24-year-old Center, RFA)

Ottawa is in a similar situation as the Rangers, even though the Senators are further behind in the rebuild process. There are a couple of more intriguing options compared to New York, but youth and upside will once again decide the pick in this mock. Matt Murray could be worth consideration, if Seattle management believes his struggles this year have more to do with the team in front of him than his individual play. Amadio is the pick here, however, especially as a young centerman, and Murray has a high cap hit that doesn’t reflect recent performance.

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) Scott Laughton (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

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) James van Riemsdyk (2) Shayne Gostisbehere (3) Justin Braun (4) Robert Hagg (5) Oskar Lindblom

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

This has been an underwhelming season in Philadelphia, leading many to think Laughton, previously a pending UFA, could be traded. Instead, he was rewarded with an extension, which results in him needing to be protected. Lindblom comes off the list and becomes an option for Seattle, although Gostisbehere remains this pick, for now. The promise he showed earlier in his career isn’t forgotten around the league, and a change of scenery may be what he needs to rediscover his best play.

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) Jeff Carter

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 (8) Kasperi Kapanen (9) Casey DeSmith

The Pick- Kasperi Kapanen (24-year-old Right Wing, 1 year/$3.2 million AAV remaining)

The Carter trade makes a significant impact on the Pittsburgh protected list. The Penguins likely wouldn’t bring in a player of his pedigree just to leave him exposed this summer. Because of this, he takes Kapanen’s spot on the protected list. With Kapanen now available, he immediately becomes a viable option for the Kraken. He is only 24 and one of the most talented forwards available in this mock and will become an offensive centerpiece in Seattle come the fall.

San Jose Sharks

Protecting 8 Skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Logan Couture (2) Timo Meier (3) Tomas Hertl (4) Ryan Donato

Defensemen- (1) Erik Karlsson (2) Marc-Edouard Vlasic (3) Radim Simek (4) Christian Jaros

Goalie- Martin Jones

Notable Exempt- (1) Mario Ferraro

Notable UFA- (1) Marcus Sorensen (3) Patrick Marleau

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Evander Kane (2) Brent Burns (3) Alex True

The Pick- Alex True (23-year-old Center, RFA)

After selecting Burns in the first mock, the Kraken go in a different direction this time around. Cap space is one of the biggest assets in the league today, and selecting a player with such a high cap hit and 4 years left on his contract doesn’t seem like a prudent move. Based on some other changes from other teams, defense will still be a position of strength for the Kraken without Burns, allowing Seattle to take a promising young forward in True.

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- David Perron (32-year-old Left Wing, 1 year/$4 million AAV remaining)

Had Seattle made all of the picks in the first mock draft, their biggest issue would have been scoring. Pivoting to Perron with their pick from the Blues should help that potential problem. He is an older player, but with only one year remaining on his contract, the goal-scorer should be a nice fit in the Seattle top-six. He was an impactful player in Vegas during their first season, so he has shown his ability to play well for an expansion franchise already in his career.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Nikita Kucherov (2) Steven Stamkos (3) Brayden Point (4) Yanni Gourde (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) Ondrej Palat (2) Tyler Johnson (3) Alex Killorn (4) Pat Maroon (5) Ryan McDonagh (6) Erik Cernak

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

Tampa Bay will be losing a quality player in this draft, in all likelihood. There are just too many talented players in that organization that are eligible for selection. The Lightning likely will not want to lose Foote, and have to expose both McDonagh and Cernak as a result. This is a team that could be likely to try to work a deal with the Kraken to alleviate some of the Lightning’s impending salary cap issues. They may also try to work some trades prior to the expansion draft. As the list currently stands, and without projecting one of the wide variety of trades that could be negotiated with Tampa Bay, Cernak will be the selection.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Protecting 8 Skaters/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Auston Matthews (2) John Tavares (3) Mitchell Marner (4) William Nylander

Defensemen- (1) Jake Muzzin (2) T.J. Brodie (3) Morgan Rielly (4) Justin Holl

Goalie- Jack Campbell

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

Notable UFA- (1) Zach Hyman (2) Nick Foligno (3) Wayne Simmonds (4) Alex Galchenyuk (5) Joe Thornton (6) Zach Bogosian (7) Frederik Andersen (8) Riley Nash

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Travis Dermott (2) Alex Kerfoot

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

In the previous mock, Toronto protected 7 forwards and 3 defensemen rather than the 8 skaters they do in this scenario. With a top-heavy forward group, the four protected here are vital to their roster. Their defense has been the lesser portion of their roster in recent memory, and the current group has been much improved, making it important to keep as much of it in tact as possible moving forward. Holl has been a great fit on their back end, and becomes the 4th defenseman protected. This leaves Kerfoot as a potential option for the Kraken, but the young defenseman, in Dermott, remains the pick.

Vancouver Canucks

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Brock Boeser (2) Bo Horvat (3) J.T. Miller (4) Tanner Pearson (5) Tyler Motte (6) Matthew Highmore (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) Brandon Sutter

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Loui Eriksson (2) Antoine Roussel (3) Jay Beagle (4) Tyler Myers (5) Kole Lind (6) Braden Holtby (7) Jake Virtanen

The Pick- Braden Holtby (31-year-old Goalie, 1 year/$4.3 million AAV remaining)

Pearson signed an extension with the Canucks prior to the trade deadline, adding him to the group of protected forwards. Virtanen moves off of the protected list, given his off-ice issues that currently have him on leave; those issues make him less likely to be taken by the Kraken. Holtby becomes the selection here after performing better after Vancouver’s extended COVID pause. His contract only has one year remaining and his presence should benefit the younger netminders that will join him in Seattle.

Washington Capitals

Protecting 7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goalie

Forwards- (1) Nicklas Backstrom (2) T.J. Oshie (3) Tom Wilson (4) Lars Eller (5) Anthony Mantha (6) Daniel Sprong (7) Conor Sheary

Defensemen- (1) John Carlson (2) Justin Schultz (3) Dmitry Orlov

Goalie- Ilya Samsonov

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

Notable UFA- (1) Alex Ovechkin (2) Henrik Lundqvist (3) Zdeno Chara (4) Michael Raffl

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Evgeny Kuznetsov (2) Brenden Dillon (3) Vitek Vanecek (4) Nick Jensen (5) Trevor van Riemsdyk (6) Nic Dowd (7) Garnet Hathaway

The Pick- Vitek Vanecek (25-year-old Goalie, 1 year/$716,667 AAV remaining)

Before any Capitals fans panic, I simply expect Ovechkin to wait to sign until after the expansion draft, allowing both Sheary and Sprong to be protected. Washington’s desire to keep both of their young goaltenders will be interesting to monitor as the expansion draft approaches. Doing so likely won’t be cheap as Seattle could ask for significant compensation in return for not selecting whichever goalie the Capitals expose. Samsonov has the higher ceiling, it seems, so Vanecek is exposed (for now). The price may just be too high for Washington to keep him, so Vanecek, in this scenario, becomes the opening night starter for the Kraken. (Depending on playoff performance, the Capitals could protect Vanecek, leaving Samsonov to become Seattle’s choice.)

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) Logan Stanley

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 (7) Jordie Benn

Top Choices for Seattle- (1) Mason Appleton (2) Nathan Beaulieu (3) Sami Niku (4) Dylan DeMelo

The Pick- Mason Appleton (25-year-old Center, 1 year/$900,000 AAV remaining)

Lowry signing an extension cements him into the protected list, rounding out the 7 forwards. Morrissey and Pionk are highly likely to be protected, but there are a couple of options for the third spot. Stanley has shown growth throughout the season and provides great size, so he will be safe in this mock. DeMelo or Niku could interest the Kraken, should they be searching for more players on the back end, but Appleton looks like a solid depth forward and could contribute in a third line role in Seattle. At 25-years-old with a low salary cap hit, he is the choice in this slot.

Seattle’s 30 Selections by Position

Forwards (17)

Adam Henrique

Nick Ritchie

Matthew Phillips

Jesper Fast

Valeri Nichushkin

Jason Dickinson

Vladislav Namestnikov

Jesse Puljujarvi

Carl Grundstrom

Nick Cousins

Kieffer Bellows

Julien Gauthier

Michael Amadio

Kasperi Kapanen

Alex True

David Perron

Mason Appleton

Defensemen (10)

Will Borgen

Connor Murphy

Dean Kukan

Markus Nutivaara

Carson Soucy

Joel Edmundson

P.K. Subban

Shayne Gostisbehere

Erik Cernak

Travis Dermott

Goalies (3)

Adin Hill

Braden Holtby

Vitek Vanecek

All salary cap date courtesy of CapFriendly

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