It’s time to predict who the Seattle Kraken will be selecting on Wednesday night’s expansion draft. Compiling this team has been challenging, but two themes stood out above all others when creating this roster: cap space and flexibility. That has been something Ron Francis has preached repeatedly, and it was taken into account when selecting these players.
Let’s go in alphabetical order, Starting with Anaheim.
Anaheim Ducks: Alexander Volkov (23), LW/RW, $925,000 – 2022 RFA
Volkov was dealt to the Ducks from the Lightning in March, putting up 13 points in 37 games altogether last season. The former 2nd round pick will have just turned 24 near the start of the 2021-22 season and could challenge for a fourth or even third-line role on the Kraken. He’s fast enough to play with talented players and could benefit from more ice-time at the NHL level.
Arizona Coyotes: Christian Fischer (24), RW/LW, $1,000,000 – 2022 RFA
Fischer has over 250 games of NHL experience at only 24 years of age but has struggled to find his offensive game in past seasons. He had a career-high 33 points in 2017-18, and at a low cap hit, could provide value in the bottom six. He could also be a nice trade chip at the deadline for a contending team looking for a winger with a low cap hit and team control at the season’s end.
Boston Bruins: Connor Clifton (26), D, $1,000,000 – 2023 UFA
A solid option on the Kraken’s bottom pairing, Connor Clifton became a regular on the Bruins blueline and averaged over 17 minutes a night in ice-time. Signed for two more seasons at just $1 million, it’s not impossible yet for him to still develop into a top-four defenceman.
Buffalo Sabres: William Borgen (24), D, 2021 RFA
Borgen honestly makes the most sense from the Sabres, as most of the other players exposed aren’t worth taking or are pending UFA’s. Borgen only has 14 games of NHL experience, but at only 24, he could still develop into a full-time NHL player if given more time to develop. He likely won’t resign for much more than league minimum.
Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano (37), D, $6,750,000 – 2022 UFA
The Flames captain would be a terrific leader for a new team with many young players on the roster. He’s still an excellent top-four defenceman, only two years removed from winning the Norris Trophy, and only has one more year left on his current contract. A fantastic leader that most teams would love to have, if even for one season. If he decides to stay after that, it will be a short deal for a much lower cap hit.
Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Bean (23), D, 2021 RFA
Jake Bean finally became an NHL regular this season with the Hurricanes, dressing for 42 games and registering 12 points. The 2016 1st round pick has some great potential and could breakout with a more significant role in the lineup. Nino Niederreiter is also an intriguing name that the Kraken could take, but a talented 23-year-old defenceman who comes from a team that plays excellent defensive hockey is exciting. He shouldn’t break the bank with his next contract.
Chicago Blackhawks: Adam Gaudette (24), C, 2021 RFA
The skilled forward is coming off a tough season after recording 33 points in 59 games in 2019-20. He could be used as a trade chip or will fight for a bottom-six role on the Kraken. A bounce-back season for him in 2021-22 doesn’t seem crazy.
Colorado Avalanche: Joonas Donskoi (29), RW, $3,900,000 – 2023 UFA
Donskoi had 31 points in 51 games last season and is signed for another two seasons at a $3.9 million cap hit. At only 29 years old, he should continue to out-perform his contract for the next two seasons and will be a valuable addition to the Kraken’s top-six.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Max Domi (26), C/LW, $5,300,000 – 2022 UFA
Max Domi brings a level of intensity, swagger, and confidence teams strive to find. He hasn’t been himself recently, not anything like the player we saw in 2018-19 when he scored 28 goals and added 44 assists. With only one year left on his contract, there is minimal risk claiming Domi. If he doesn’t fit with the Kraken, he could be a desirable trade asset at the deadline. If he excels with the Kraken, he could be a core piece of this team for the next half-decade.
Dallas Stars: Andrej Sekera (35), D, $1,500,000 – 2022 UFA
Taking a little page out of the Golden Knights playbook with this one as Sekera is someone the Kraken could try to flip this summer to a team that missed out on a free-agent defender they coveted. At only $1.5 million against the cap for only one more season, Sekera can still provide value on a team’s bottom pair for that price.
Detroit Red Wings: Troy Stecher (27), D, $1,700,000 – 2022 UFA
This pick wasn’t hard, as Stecher looked like the clear choice here. Right-handed defencemen are insanely valuable, and the Kraken have a chance to pick up one in Troy Stecher, who is only 27 and makes just $1.7 million against the cap. The Red Wings were likely pretty upset to have to expose Stecher, and Seattle should take advantage of it.
Edmonton Oilers: Dominik Kahun (26), LW/RW/C, 2021 RFA
Even though Kahun hasn’t yet rekindled the type of offence production he saw in his rookie season with Chicago, he is still a useful bottom-six forward. He made less than $1,000,000 lasts season, and likely won’t be demanding much of a raise. With the proper line mates and maybe some occasional time on the powerplay, Kahun may become a real offensive threat again in the NHL once again.
Florida Panthers: Chris Driedger (27), G, 2021 UFA
The first goalie selected in this mock draft comes as no surprise, as many insiders are already saying they believe Florida will choose and sign Chris Driedger to a multi-year contract. Driedger is coming off a massive breakout season, where at times took over the starting job in Florida over Sergei Bobrovsky. Florida can’t afford to keep him with so much money already committed to Bobrovsky, so Driedger will attempt to be a full-time starter with the Seattle Kraken.
Los Angeles Kings: Carl Grundström (23), LW, $725,000 – 2022 RFA
Making only $725,000 this upcoming season, Carl Grundström could be an exciting pickup for the Seattle Kraken. He had 11 points in 46 games this season with the Kings and could be one of several players fighting for a bottom-six role on the Kraken. There are the signs of a solid depth player in Grundström, and he’s a low-risk player worth giving a shot.
Minnesota Wild: Kaapo Kähkönen (24), G, $725,000 – 2022 RFA
Kaapo Kähkönen became a full-time NHL goaltender last year with the Minnesota Wild as the backup to Cam Talbot. When Talbot went down with an injury early in the season, Kähkönen was spectacular, but he ran into some struggles later in the season. With Seattle, Kähkönen could become the team’s backup, be developed a little further in the AHL, or flipped to another team in need of a young goaltender with NHL experience.
Montreal Canadiens: Carey Price (33), G, $10,500,000 – 2026 UFA
This is the big question; will the Seattle Kraken take Carey Price. There are clearly questions about his health; however, Price is a warrior, and unless something really unfortunate has happened, we will likely see Carey Price in net again soon, even if it’s not at the start of next season.
He would be the face of the franchise from day one, a superstar goalie who just led the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals. The contract is a concerning factor, but Price proved in the playoffs why he is worth it. With the type of contracts the Kraken will be able to take via the expansion draft, they should have tons of cap flexibility for the next few seasons if they want it. It also looks like he will get Chris Driedger alongside him in the net, easing his workload during the regular season. The Kraken can, and should, select Carey Price to be the face of their franchise.
Of course, thank you Friedman
Nashville Predators: Calle Järnkrok (29), LW/C/RW, $2,000,000 – 2022 UFA
A versatile forward who can play all three positions, Järnkrok has been a consistent 30 point-pace player for the past few seasons. He would likely see time in both the top-six and powerplay with the Kraken, which could help raise his point totals slightly. Not the biggest player at just 5’11” but plays a hard-noise style of hockey to make up for it. If he doesn’t look to be a part of the long-term future in Nashville, he will generate a lot of interest at the trade deadline as a rental, middle-six forward.
New Jersey Devils: Nate Bastian (23), RW/C, $825,000 – 2023
Bastian has an excellent contract for the next two seasons and is a big body (6’4″) that can work well in the bottom six of a team’s forward group. He’s got some skill to his game that he could utilize better with the Kraken. Two more seasons under $900,000 is very enticing.
New York Islanders: Jordan Eberle (31), RW, $5,500,000 – 2024 UFA
A reliable top-six winger, Eberle has proven with the Islanders that he can play a solid defensive game and perform in the playoffs. His cap hit isn’t ridiculous enough to the point that he can’t be traded if needed, and he will be one of the best offensive players on the Kraken right from the start.
New York Rangers: Julian Gauthier (23), RW, $775,000 – 2022 RFA
The former 1st round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes hasn’t seen much NHL action yet in his career but has showcased his offensive abilities in both the QMJHL and AHL. So many players just need a team to give them a real chance to showcase their talents, and maybe Gauthier finds that in Seattle.
Ottawa Senators: Joshua Brown (27), D, $1,200,000 – 2022 UFA
Joshua Brown didn’t have a stellar season in 2020-21, but being a right-handed defenceman is always valuable in the NHL. This is a player the Kraken could likely select and flip for assets once the dust settles on free agency to a team still needing a depth defenceman.
Philadelphia Flyers: James van Riemsdyk (32), LW, $7,000,000 – 2023 UFA
James van Riemsdyk is a big power-forward who just finished a season where he registered 43 points in 56 games. He can play on the Kraken’s top line and be a threat in front of the net on the powerplay. He has a high cap hit, but with only two more years left on his contract, there are no long-term commitment concerns. He’s one of the best forwards available for the Kraken to take, and if healthy, should perform up to his contract.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Chad Ruhwedel (31), D, $750,000 – 2022 UFA
Not a whole lot to say on this one. A right-handed defenceman with a cheap contract and lots of NHL experience. He won’t give much offensively but knows how to play a depth role on the blueline. Can likely be flipped for a late-round pick if Seattle wants.
San Jose Sharks: Ryan Donato (25), LW/C, 2021 RFA
Most people tend to forget that Ryan Donato is only 25 years old. He has shown flashes of his offensive capabilities; however, he is more known for being a hard-working middle-six forward. Wouldn’t be surprised, though, if Seattle selects him and flips him for a pick or prospect.
St. Louis Blues: Vince Dunn (24), D, 2021 RFA
Since the Kraken have already selected Carey Price in this mock draft, it’s tough to see them taking Tarasenko as well. Unless they already have a trading partner lined up willing to send them quality assets in exchange for a bit of salary retained by Seattle (which shouldn’t be too much of an issue).
Instead, Vince Dunn is a player with loads of skill that clearly needs a fresh start somewhere, and Seattle could be that team. He’s someone who can play in their top-four and hopefully rekindle some of the offensive production to his game that he had back in 2018-19 when he scored 12 goals and added 32 assists.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Yanni Gourde (29), C/LW/RW, $5,166,000 – 2025 UFA
Yanni Gourde showcased just how valuable a player he can be with the Lightning during their 2021 Stanley Cup run. He plays a hard-working style of hockey, signed for four more seasons and looks to be ready for more offensive responsibilities. The Lightning exposed several quality players, but Yanni Gourde looks to be the cream of the crop for the Lightning.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Alexander Kerfoot (26), C/LW, $3,500,000 – 2023 UFA
It looks to be between Kerfoot and newly acquired Jared McCann regarding who the Kraken will be selecting. Both are young, versatile, middle-six forwards that don’t cost a ton against the cap. There have been rumours that the Kraken have really liked Kerfoot for a while, and if selected, will get a much more prominent role in the lineup than he had in Toronto. Could be a player ready to break out next season if put in more offensive-favourable situations.
Vancouver Canucks: Guillaume Brisebois (24), D, 2021
Brisebois turns 24 years old on July 21, the day of the expansion draft. As his birthday gift, the Seattle Kraken will be giving him a fresh start with a new organization. The young defenceman was an impressive offensive player in junior hockey but hasn’t found that game style yet at the AHL or NHL level.
Washington Capitals: Vitek Vanecek (25), G, $716,667 – 2022 RFA
You can never have enough quality goaltenders. Vanecek saw a lot of action in his rookie season in 2020-21, playing in 37 games and registering a .908 save percentage. There is a lot of potential there, but if the crease becomes a little too crowded in Seattle, he should fetch them an excellent return.
Winnipeg Jets: Dylan DeMelo (28), D, $3,000,000 – 2023 UFA
Many were shocked that the Jets left DeMelo exposed, and the Kraken don’t need to overthink this one. He might not get many points, but he does so many little things coaches just love from defensemen. Signed for three more seasons at a nice cap hit, DeMelo will be a great addition to Seattle’s blueline.
With all the players selected in this mock draft, plus let’s say $3.5 million a year for three seasons on Driedger’s new contract (that’s the rumour), The Seattle Kraken will have a cap hit of $76.6 million.
Now, when we factor in the likelihood of some players likely being flipped for future assets, it’s expected the Kraken will have ten or more million dollars of cap space to work with heading into the season. Also, it’s important to remember is just how many contracts come off the books after just one season, including Giordano’s and Domi’s.
Here is a projected lineup for opening night using just the roster that they select in the expansion draft. Some free-agent signings may happen this summer, and those players would then be added to this lineup.
Van Riemsdyk – Kerfoot – Eberle
Domi – Gourde – Donskoi
Volkov – Järnkrok – Fischer
Grundström – Kahun – Gauthier
Giordano – DeMelo
Dunn – Stecher
Bean – Clifton
Extras/AHL: Gaudette, Bastian, Ruhwedel, Brisebois, Borgen,
Traded for assets: Donato, Sekera, Brown, Vanecek
This is certainly a competitive team, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they make the playoffs in their inaugural season is a weak Pacific Division.
Some picks here will be correct, some will be wrong. We already have been hearing some rumours in the past couple hours on players the Kraken will likely be taking but I decided not to change this team based on that.
Surely, Wednesday night will be one exciting expansion draft. Hopefully, the kraken don’t take your favourite player.