The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft welcomes the Seattle Kraken to the league as its 32nd member club Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 in the United States and Sportsnet in Canada.
Because of a lot going on right now, this mock expansion draft got delayed until the day of the actual draft and ultimately is arbitrary. If there’s even one prediction right here, then Kraken General Manager, Ron Francis, apparently reads DTFR.
We’ll make that assumption, thank you very much.
Seattle has run numerous mock drafts at this point and gone through many scenarios, but who would’ve imagined that players like Alex Ovechkin, Ondrej Palat and more would be available?
Of course, keep in mind that the Kraken have to spend between 60-100% of the previous season’s salary cap ($81.500 million).
For the sake of keeping things simple here, we’ve provided some built-in scenarios that would allow Seattle to be cap compliant as a result of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
The Kraken will be selecting one player from 30 NHL clubs as the Vegas Golden Knights are exempt from this round of expansion. The 30 other teams had the option to protect seven forwards, three defenders and one goaltender or any combination of eight skaters and one goaltender.
The majority of this was written before the leaked selections were revealed, so let’s just pretend we’re all in an alternate universe for a bit longer.
LD/RD Haydn Fleury
25-years-old, 1 year left, $1.300 million cap hit
Fleury was dealt to Anaheim at the trade deadline as the Carolina Hurricanes feared they would probably lose him anyway to former Canes GM Ron Francis at the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
Turns out their fears were based in reality as the Ducks experience déjà vu that harkens back to when they lost Shea Theodore to the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.
Fleury had 3-1–4 totals in 47 games for Anaheim and Carolina in 2020-21.
RW/LW Christian Fischer
24, 1 year left, $1.000 million cap hit
Fischer (3-8–11 totals in 52 games) is a safe bet for Seattle as he’s entering his prime and carries a low-risk, high-reward type of contract with the expectation that he could blossom into an attractive bottom-six forward.
It’s either that, or he’ll be a sweetener in another transaction as the deadline approaches if there’s a team looking to bolster their depth.
LD/RD Connor Clifton
26, 2 years left, $1.000 million cap hit
Boston is more than likely going to lose a defender– whether it’s Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon or Jakub Zboril– rather than a forward, like Nick Ritchie, for example. Between Clifton and Lauzon, the Kraken can’t go wrong.
If they’d prefer the younger of the two, then Lauzon is your choice. Of course, if Seattle is looking for an NHL ready bottom-pairing and/or seventh defender, then look no further than the hard-hitting Clifton (1-6–7 totals in 44 games) despite his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame.
LD Jake McCabe
27, pending-unrestricted free agent, $2.850 million cap hit in 2020-21
Like more than a few players in Buffalo this offseason, McCabe could benefit from a change of scenery and can be best utilized as a bottom-pairing or depth defender.
Perhaps the Kraken can’t come to an agreement on a new contract or they find a way to flip him at the Expansion Draft– ether way, Seattle’s looking to get more out of his 1-2–3 totals in 13 games in 2020-21.
LD Mark Giordano
37, 1 year remaining, $6.750 million cap hit
Though Seattle wouldn’t go wrong with either Milan Lucic or Giordano in terms of drafting leadership out of the Flames’ dressing room, it turns out the Kraken liked the Golden Knights’ model enough and pried a veteran defender out of Calgary to lead the first generation Kraken roster.
With 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 56 games in 2020-21, a Mark Messier Leadership Award and a James Norris Memorial Trophy under his belt in 2019-20 and 2018-19, respectively, Giordano’s had a late career resurgence and could prove to be an effective piece on Seattle’s blue line.
RD Dougie Hamilton
28, pending-UFA, $5.750 million cap hit in 2020-21
Hamilton arrived to Carolina after Francis left the organization, but that doesn’t rule out the six degrees of Kevin Bacon factor here, which allows the Kraken to select the right-shot defender that had 10-32–42 totals in 55 games this season.
Though he’s a pending-UFA, Seattle has the space to get creative with either a new contract or the ability to trade his negotiating rights for more assets before free agency begins on July 28th.
LD/RD Calvin de Haan
30, 1 year left, $4.550 million cap hit
de Haan’s (1-9–10 totals in 44 games) been a journeyman for three out of the last four seasons having gone from the New York Islanders in 2017-18, to the Hurricanes in 2018-19, then Chicago from 2019-present.
He’d either play a bigger role with Seattle or would continue wracking up the airline rewards points by being used as trade bait for another club in the offseason similar to how the Golden Knights used Marc Methot and David Schlemko in their Expansion Draft year.
LW/C Gabriel Landeskog
28, pending-UFA, $5.571 million cap hit in 2020-21
Vegas was wheeling and dealing at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft and Seattle will likely be doing the same in this year’s 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, so why not take a chance on Landeskog and see what happens?
At best, he sticks around. At worst, you trade his negotiating rights before July 28th or play it safe and claim Joonas Donskoi instead to provide yourself with some quality top-nine forward depth.
Landeskog, however, brings his 20-32–52 totals in 54 games this season, as well as his leadership qualities as the current captain in Colorado to Seattle if he were to sign a long-term extension to guide the Kraken through their formative years. He’d be the surefire captain for the new club, no doubt.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
C/LW Max Domi
26, 1 year left, $5.300 million cap hit
Columbus took a gamble and it didn’t pay off as Domi’s 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) in 71 games with the Montréal Canadiens in 2019-20, faltered to 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 54 games with the Blue Jackets in 2020-21.
As such, Domi was exposed to the elements and that’s where the Kraken come in to take a flyer on a top-six forward looking for the right system and something to be built around. If all else fails, it’s only one season to get Seattle off the ground and provide a spark.
LD/RD Andrej Sekera
35, 1 year left, $1.500 million cap hit
Sekera’s five points (three goals, two assists) in 46 games won’t be attracting any buyers for his offensive capabilities from the point, but if it’s a shutdown defender that can play throughout the lineup you need, then he’ll come in handy as a Swiss Army knife of sorts.
If the Kraken trade from the rest of their plethora of defenders and Sekera remains, it’s not the end of the world. If Seattle sends him packing after claiming him from Dallas, then the Stars won’t have lost that much for nothing with bigger fish to fry.
Either that or the Kraken could just snag Jamie Oleksiak and call it a day.
DETROIT RED WINGS
RW/LW/C Vladislav Namestnikov
28, 1 year left, $2.000 million cap hit
Remember when Namestnikov was a household name in a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform? Or when he was a New York Ranger? These days, it seems like he’s been everywhere– especially since he’s suited up for the Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avlanche and Red Wings in the last two seasons.
His best season came in 2017-18, when he amassed 48 points between the Lightning and Rangers in 81 games played, but Namestnikov only managed 8-9–17 totals in 53 games with Detroit this season.
At $2.000 million for one season, he’s a suitable asset in your bottom-six forward group with a low-cost, high-reward 30-40 point potential at best or easy to move at the deadline at worst.
RD Adam Larsson
28, pending-UFA, $4.167 million cap hit in 2020-21
Larsson (4-6–10 totals in 56 games) is sure to hit the open market on July 28th, but if the Kraken find themselves in position to stake their claim to his negotiating rights and sign him before anyone else can even submit an offer it wouldn’t be unwise.
At best, Seattle lands a top-four defender. At worst, they avoid having to take something else from the Oilers. James Neal likely isn’t getting another call from an expansion team this time around and Kyle Turris might be the only decent cheap contract if he can find his game again.
G Chris Driedger
27, pending-UFA, $850,000 cap hit in 2020-21
Seattle was enchanted by his emergence in the last couple of seasons and with Spencer Knight coming out of the shadows behind Sergei Bobrovksy’s contract in Florida, Driedger finds himself hitting the open waters of Puget Sound and/or free agency.
Whether or not Driedger’s 14-6-3 record, 2.07 goals-against average and .9217 save percentage in 23 games (23 starts, three shutouts) is a promising sign of things to come or simply a solid mark of defensive work in front of him remains to be seen.
That said, Driedger is one of the better goaltenders on the open market– if he even makes it there first.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
RW/LW Austin Wagner
24, 2 years left, $1.133 million cap hit
Despite having one of the best prospect pools in the league right now, the Kings don’t have too much to offer via expansion, so the Kraken will have to settle for a fourth-liner that has yet to reveal whether or not this is really all that there is to his game.
Wagner had 4-4–8 totals in 44 games with Los Angeles in 2020-21.
G Kaapo Kähkönen
24, 1 year left, $725,000
The Wild chose to protect Cam Talbot over their future potential starting goaltender in Kähkönen which is good news for Kraken fans and bad news for Minnesota fans.
Unless Seattle has a deal in place to acquire assets from the Wild to not select Kähkönen, this is a dangerous game for Minnesota GM, Bill Guerin, to play– but then again, he’s put an emphasis on change at the forefront of his tenure in Minnesota’s front office.
Meanwhile, Kähkönen went 16-8-0 in 24 games (23 starts, two shutouts) and had a 2.88 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage in that span in 2020-21.
G Carey Price
33, 5 years left, $10.500 million cap hit
Whether or not Price is even being considered by the Kraken hinges upon two things 1) his health and 2) if Seattle and Montréal have already worked out some sort of trade.
The league has already informed the clubs that they would be circumventing the salary cap if the Kraken select Price, retain 50% of his salary and deal him back to Montréal.
But, Seattle could take the 2021 Stanley Cup Final runner-up goaltender that amassed a 12-7-5 record in 25 games (25 starts, one shutout) in the regular season and had a 2.64 goals-against average, as well as a .901 save percentage in that span and play him, place him on long-term injured reserve or eat some salary and trade him elsewhere.
In any case, Price to Seattle would be as big a deal as Marc-Andre Fleury to Vegas in 2017.
LD Mark Borowiecki
32, 1 year left, $2.000 million cap hit
Borowiecki’s 2020-21 campaign was cut short and limited to 22 games due to injury, but don’t let his one assist fool you– he’s a physical defender that will do anything to make a hit, block a shot and lead in the dressing room when he’s not on the ice.
If he’s healthy, he’d be effective in Seattle as the Kraken look to establish their workplace culture and team identity.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
LW/RW Andreas Johnsson
26, 2 years left, $3.400 million cap hit
Johnsson had 43 points in 73 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in his first full season at the NHL level in 2018-19. He then had just 21 points in 43 games with the Leafs in 2019-20 and 5-6–11 totals in 50 games with the Devils this season.
In the right situation, he could bounce back. In New Jersey, it doesn’t look like that’d be happening anytime soon– regardless of Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes’ emergence with Ty Smith and Yegor Sharangovich playing a part in the club’s turnaround.
Some, however, have Mackenzie Blackwood pegged as being selected by the Kraken as they certainly have plenty of goaltenders to choose from and trade thereafter.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
RW/LW Josh Bailey
31, 3 years left, $5.000 million cap hit
Bailey had 8-27–35 totals in 54 games with the Islanders this season and would provide some meat in the middle of our hypothetical Kraken roster.
Between Bailey and Jordan Eberle, however, Seattle can’t go wrong. The former tends to score clutch goals in the playoffs and has a cap hit that’s $500,000 less than the latter, though that’s not much to worry about.
NEW YORK RANGERS
RW Julien Gauthier
23, 1 year left, $775,000 cap hit
It’s not always about size, but having the option to use a 6-foot-4, 227-pound winger in your lineup certainly will help the Kraken in the physical elements of the game– especially against their rivals in the Pacific Division.
Gauthier had 2-6–8 totals in 30 games with the Rangers in 2020-21.
G Joey Daccord
24, 2 years left, $750,000 cap hit
Daccord appeared in eight games (six games) this season as the Senators struggled to stay healthy in the crease and went on to amass a 1-3-1 record in the process with a 3.27 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage in that span– revealing two things 1) he’s a young goaltender and 2) the Sens really need a better roster in front of any and all of their goaltenders.
But choosing Daccord is O.K. for Seattle since he’ll develop in due time and it takes care of having to pick something else from Ottawa’s scraps.
RW/LW Jakub Voracek
31, 3 years left, $8.250 million cap hit
Want to get messy? Let’s have the Kraken select Voracek from the Flyers and see what happens!
No, this isn’t about postgame press conference outbursts or anything (though Voracek was in the right in that regard), but rather, there’s a lot of teams that would take Voracek at a reduced rate and Seattle could make bank off trading him.
Or they could keep the guy that had 9-34–43 totals in 53 games in 2020-21 and see what happens in 2021-22, but Francis isn’t likely going to take on that big of a contract unless it’s a free agent signing.
RW/LW Brandon Tanev
29, 4 years left, $3.500 million cap hit
Tanev can skate, hit and compete, so… …in other words, he’s a hockey player. He’s also got the long hair to go with it.
In 2020-21, he had 7-9–16 totals in 32 games in his second season with the Penguins. Though he was on the cusp of the 30-point plateau with the Winnipeg Jets in 2018-19, Tanev’s career-high 29 points is about the most Seattle could get out of him, but that’s fine for the meat of their lineup.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
C Dylan Gambrell
24, 1 year left, $1.100 million cap hit
Be honest, did you really want to have to take anything from the Sharks?
Gambrell matched his career-high in goals (five) and set career-highs in assists (seven) and points (12) in 49 games with San Jose this season, but aside from being young, he’s still very much a fourth liner in the NHL, so the Kraken have that going for them, at least.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
RW Vladimir Tarasenko
29, 2 years left, $7.500 million cap hit
Name brand power. Seattle would assure themselves of having some top jersey sales if they’d just take Tarasenko and keep him on the roster.
Then again, he’s missed significant portions of the last two seasons and already wants out of St. Louis, so what’s not to say he won’t be disgruntled about going to a completely new franchise and any growing pains?
With 4-10–14 totals in 24 games in 2020-21, and 442 points in 531 career NHL games, it’s probably worth at least being in control of his next destination– whether that’s the Kraken or elsewhere.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
C/LW/RW Yanni Gourde
29, 4 years left, $5.167 million cap hit
Gourde is an affordable player to build a brand new roster around, but just how far up the lineup can he play? Will Seattle try to make him like William Karlsson in Vegas’ first year and demand first line minutes or are they comfortable with taking a more conservative approach and, say, making him a second liner at best?
In any case, 17-19–36 totals in 56 games en route to back-to-back Stanley Cup rings with the Lightning brings the right amount of depth scoring and valuable playoff experience to the Kraken’s roster.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
LW/C Jared McCann
25, 1 year left, $2.940 million cap hit
There was a reason why the Maple Leafs went out and got McCann in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins ahead of the expansion draft, but it clearly wasn’t as an insurance plan in the event that Seattle took Alexander Kerfoot and Toronto needed a new third line center or something.
Instead, the Leafs left both available and the Kraken took the guy with the better offensive production in 2020-21, as McCann had 14-18–32 totals in 43 games with Pittsburgh, while Kerfoot had 8-15–23 totals in 56 games with Toronto.
C/RW Zack MacEwen
25, 1 year left, $825,000
All of Vancouver’s bad contracts are coming to bite them just as everyone expected. Sure, some attractive salary cap hits were available if the Kraken needed a boost, but for the point scoring output, none of them would’ve made sense in a million years– even as a favor to the Canucks, you know, the closest geographical rival to Seattle.
Thus, MacEwen’s taking his talents and 1-1–2 totals in 34 games with the Canucks this season to the Kraken, where he’ll become intertwined with some semblance of depth.
G Vitek Vanecek
25, 1 year left, $716,667
Yeah, there’s no way around it, really, but this is the worst thing that could happen for the Capitals short of the Kraken getting bold and taking Alex Ovechkin.
Vanecek (21-10-4 in 37 games, 36 starts, 2.69 goals-against average, .908 save percentage, two shutouts) provides a great 1A/1B punch with Ilya Samsonov as both goaltenders develop, but since Washington couldn’t get a deal done with the team that plays in Washington (state, that is), then it’s a solid grab for Seattle.
Whether or not they keep Vanecek in the mix with all the other goaltenders (or any of the other goaltenders, for that matter) remains to be seen.
RD Dylan DeMelo
28, 3 years left, $3.000 million
It’s simple, draft DeMelo from Winnipeg and either end up with a decent top-4 defender or use him as trade bait a la the Vegas way in 2017.
Nine assists in 52 games won’t get you much offense from the point when DeMelo is on the ice, but his shutdown style and decent cap hit is attractive around the league.
Total Cap Hit (excluding players already on SEA roster): $80,681,666
Average age: 27.7 years old
Seattle won’t actually be spending to the cap from the expansion draft alone kind of like how the Golden Knights did in 2017, but in this mock draft, let’s get crazy.
Spend every penny and sell high, why not!?!
Yes, Price carries a hefty price tag, but that doesn’t have to be your problem if you find a team desperate enough for goaltending. Imagine trading Price to the Maple Leafs and watching all of Québec sit through the uneasiness of another Toronto-Montréal matchup in the postseason by the time his contract expires.
Or just imagine all of the possible side deals from taking a team that’s loaded with talent and stripping it down to the essentials, plus a foundation for the future.
Ron Francis is kind of good at that.