Seattle Kraken Pre-Expansion Draft Protection List Submission Mock Draft and Analysis

Now that the Tampa Bay Lightning have officially defeated the Montreal Canadiens to capture their second consecutive Stanley Cup, the busiest NHL offseason in recent memory is set to begin. In the next 20 days, general managers will need to navigate the expansion process, make their respective selections in a complicated 2021 NHL draft, as well as finish any last minute preparations for 2021 free agency. However, the first order of business is to compile Expansion Draft protection lists by 5pm EST on July 17th, which is why we wanted to release this mock expansion draft immediately following the Finals. After the protection lists are submitted, we will conduct a review on our work in this article, in addition to publishing new projections based on the submitted lists prior to the July 21st expansion draft. Once the Kraken make their actual selections, we will compare their picks to our predictions and project the order of finish in the Pacific Division before the start of free agency, to get a glimpse of how Seattle’s team may fare. With that being said, let us go over the rules and criteria for those that may be unaware.

First, this work could not be possible without the outstanding people at CapFriendly.com, who have put together a mock expansion draft calculator for fans to make their projections. All of the features, criteria, and rules in this article will be exactly as it is on their tool. One of the best things about their Expansion Draft Tool, is that they immediately factor in whether your mock protection list meets NHL exposure requirements or not. For those that are unaware, the exposure requirements state that teams must leave at least two forwards who are under contract during the 2021-22 season who have played either 40 games in the 2020-21 NHL season, or a combined 70+ games in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, as well as one defenseman under the same criteria. In addition to that, each team must expose one goaltender who is either under contract in 2021-22 or who is a restricted free agent currently. Also, note that players who have no-trade or no-movement clauses in their contracts must be protected, unless said player agrees to waive it to be exposed. All players who have played in two or fewer NHL seasons, in addition to unsigned draft picks are exempt from the expansion draft. In our analysis, we will provide which protection list option we would opt to submit if we were running each of the thirty clubs, as well as the UFAs exposed, notable exempt players, notable exposed players, who we would select if we were Ron Francis and the Seattle Kraken. It is also worth reminding that the Vegas Golden Knights are exempt from this expansion draft, and Seattle will not be selecting a player from their organization here. We will try to also examine whether trade possibilities could be in play with certain teams based on their situations as well. The format of this article will be very similar to that of our Vegas Expansion Draft work from years ago. Let’s get started!

Anaheim Ducks

Skater 1- Rickard Rakell

Skater 2- Troy Terry

Skater 3- Danton Heinen

Skater 4- Isac Lundestrom

Skater 5- Cam Fowler

Skater 6- Hampus Lindholm

Skater 7- Josh Manson

Skater 8- Haydn Fleury

Goaltender 1- John Gibson

Notable UFAs– Ryan Getzlaf, David Backes, Carter Rowney

Notable Exempt– Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, Maxime Comtois

Notable Exposed– Kevin Shattenkirk, Jakob Silfverberg, Adam Henrqiue, Sonny Milano, Sam Steel, Max Jones, Nicholas Deslauriers, Jacob Larsson, Josh Mahura

Our Pick– Carter Rowney (UFA)

Our Pick Explanation: None of the players exposed by Anaheim under this protection list format are particularly enticing to us. Shattenkirk, Silfverberg, and Henrique all have multiple years remaining with high AAV as players on the wrong side of 30. Although they are young, recent first round talents, Steel, Jones, and Larsson have been extremely below average AB players since entering the league and haven’t produced on the points side as much as Ducks management had hoped for. Of all the players available under this protection list, Carter Rowney has a decent career AB score of -1.03 over a five-year span. He’s a solid penalty killer and had a career-year on an abysmal 2019-20 Ducks team, registering the team’s best individual AB score that season with a +2.82. the team itself, registered a -76.88 score which showed just how well Rowney played compared to several of his teammates. Rowney has never made over $1.3 million in one NHL season, so if Seattle were to sign him in their UFA window prior to him hitting the open market, he could be a cheap, reliable, bottom-six option for them. As far as production is concerned, Rowney played in 90 games in the last two seasons, scoring 8 goals and registering 17 assists for 25 points. He played 17 fewer games than Sam Steel, who had 9 more points in that span, and 15 less games than Max Jones, who he had 2 more points than in the same span. It’s also worth noting that Canadian forwards under Dave Hakstol, Seattle’s head coach, register average AB scores of +0.29, and his 69% advantage percentage is the 2nd best among the 96 coaches we examined in our study (best among active coaches). Interestingly enough, Rowney played for Dave Hakstol at the University of North Dakota, so there is a connection there. He played for Hakstol from 2009-10 to 2012-13, registering 32 goals and 41 assists for 73 points in 150 games, which included a Frozen Four appearance. Rowney registered a -0.76 score last season, and if that number improves to at least Hakstol’s average of +0.29, then a potentially $1.5 million investment for someone who isn’t going to negatively impact the team as well as kill penalties may be a smart decision here. We believe there is a fit here for Rowney if Seattle pursues it, and they could even try to get a pick or a prospect in exchange for taking Rowney if Anaheim wants to keep their young players. However, if Anaheim decides to leave Danton Heinen unprotected, which we don’t think they will despite it being possible, he should absolutely be Seattle’s pick. The ideal scenario for Seattle would be Heinen being exposed and selected in addition to signing Rowney in free agency later on, however, we will reevaluate after protection lists are released.

Arizona Coyotes

Forward 1- Phil Kessel (NMC)

Forward 2- Clayton Keller

Forward 3- Nick Schmaltz

Forward 4- Christian Dvorak

Forward 5- Conor Garland

Forward 6- Lawson Crouse

Forward 7- Christian Fischer

Defenseman 1- Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NMC)

Defenseman 2- Jakob Chychrun

Defenseman 3- Kyle Capobianco

Goaltender 1- Darcy Kuemper

Notable UFAs- Derick Brassard, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers, Antti Raanta, Michael Bunting

Notable Exempt– Barrett Hayton, Liam Kirk, Victor Soderstrom

Notable Exposed– Tyler Pitlick, Johan Larsson, Adin Hill

Our Pick– Tyler Pitlick (1.75m)

Explanation- Arizona’s pick is one of the easier ones to evaluate of the 30 teams in the process. The pick will most likely come down to a choice between Tyler Pitlick and goaltender Adin Hill. We believe that there will be a variety of goaltenders for Seattle to choose from, and a good amount that we would select over Hill. Pitlick however, has been one of the more underrated players in the league AB wise, as he has a career AB score of +1.83 in a seven-year span. He has even registered a +7.17 score in 2019-20 with the Philadelphia Flyers, and a +4.08 score with the Dallas Stars. Dave Hakstol’s second best nationality position group according to our coach’s study was American born forwards, and Pitlick is from Minneapolis Minnesota. Pitlick has a year left at $1.75 million AAV before he becomes a UFA at age twenty-nine. He is another player that could be solid in Seattle’s bottom-six forward group, and we expect him to be selected unless he is protected, or Seattle opts for Adin Hill.

Boston Bruins

Forward 1- Patrice Bergeron (NMC)

Forward 2- Brad Marchand (NMC)

Forward 3- Charlie Coyle (NMC)

Forward 4- David Pastrnak

Forward 5- Craig Smith

Forward 6- Jake DeBrusk

Forward 7- Trent Frederic

Defenseman 1- Charlie McAvoy

Defenseman 2- Brandon Carlo

Defenseman 3- Matt Grzelcyk

Goaltender 1- Daniel Vladar

Notable UFAs- David Krejci, Taylor Hall, Sean Kuraly, Mike Reilly, Kevan Miller, Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak

Notable Exempt– Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Swayman

Notable Exposed– Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, Chris Wagner, Curtis Lazar, Anton Blidh, Zach Senyshyn, John Moore, Jakub Zboril, Connor Clifton

Our Pick– Jakub Zboril (725k)

Our Pick Explanation: Jakub Zboril was Boston’s first of three 1st round picks in the loaded 2015 NHL draft (13th overall) and had a solid rookie season with the Bruins this year. The twenty-four year old registered nine assists for nine points in forty-two games played this season with the team and had a solid -0.68 rookie AB score. We think he is capable of building off that successful rookie year and has a chance to be a very good bottom pair defenseman for the Kraken next season on a cheap contract as well. Defensemen born outside of the US, Canada, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, or “Other” as we referred to it as in our coach’s study, happened to be Dave Hakstol’s 2nd best defensive group with an average AB score of -0.95, slightly worse than Zboril’s -0.68 score from this season. He played a solid number of minutes for Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins this season at 17:03 average TOI, and we think he is ready to do that and potentially more with the Kraken, if Hakstol believes in him enough. This could be Seattle’s version of Brayden McNabb, talented prospect who just needed a change of scenery and the right coaching. McNabb was even two years older than Zboril is now at the time of his expansion draft. McNabb’s first year AB with Vegas was +9.98 and he’s only registered one negative season with the team at -0.47 in 2019-20. Granted he had a +1.14 career AB score at the time of his expansion draft, his score the year of the draft was -1.56, which turned around due to proper coaching. Zboril could potentially have the same impact at a cheaper cost and a younger age. However, if Trent Frederic or Jake DeBrusk are exposed by the Bruins, Seattle must take them into consideration as well. Seattle is going to get a very good player from Boston, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a shot at Ondrej Kase, as he is another high-AB forward who is twenty-five years old and an RFA.

Buffalo Sabres

Forward 1- Jeff Skinner (NMC)

Forward 2- Jack Eichel

Forward 3- Sam Reinhart

Forward 4- Victor Olofsson

Forward 5- Anders Bjork 

Forward 6- Casey Mittlestadt 

Forward 7- Tage Thompson   

Defenseman 1- Rasmus Dahlin

Defenseman 2- Rasmus Ristolainen

Defenseman 3- Henri Jokiharju

Goaltender 1- Linus Ullmark (UFA)

Notable UFAs- Jake McCabe, Matt Irwin, Carter Hutton, Riley Sheahan, Drake Caggiula

Notable Exempt– Arttu Ruotsalainen, Jack Quinn, Dylan Cozens, John-Jason Peterka, Jacob Bryson, Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen

Notable Exposed– Colin Miller, Zemgus Girgensons, Cody Eakin, Kyle Okposo, Rasmus Asplund, William Borgen

Our Pick– Rasmus Asplund (RFA)

Our Pick Explanation– Buffalo would be making a huge mistake to expose Asplund in our opinion. Buffalo’s 2016 2nd round pick was one of the few bright spots on a Sabres team who finished last in the league this season. The twenty-three year old had seven goals and four assists for eleven points in twenty-eight games this season and registered a +2.31 individual AB score (the best score on a -134.13 combined AB team). Asplund is the only player we’d really be interested in unless Seattle found a way to get Jeff Skinner at salary retained cost or get paid premium assets such as picks or prospects to take his whole salary. Buffalo should be protecting a player like Asplund, as he is definitely one of their better, young forwards in our opinion, however, if they decide to protect Tage Thompson, which is definitely a possibility, then Asplund left exposed will be tempting for the Kraken to pass on. In our opinion, whoever Buffalo decides to expose between Asplund, and Thompson will be the Seattle pick unless there’s a trade, which is entirely possible.

Calgary Flames

Forward 1- Johnny Gaudreau

Forward 2- Sean Monahan

Forward 3- Matthew Tkachuk

Forward 4- Andrew Mangiapane

Forward 5- Elias Lindholm

Forward 6- Dillon Dube

Forward 7- Dominik Simon

Defenseman 1- Mark Giordano

Defenseman 2- Noah Hanifin

Defenseman 3- Rasmus Andersson

Goaltender 1- Jacob Markstrom (NMC)

NMC Waived- Milan Lucic

Notable UFAs- Derek Ryan, Josh Leivo, Zac Rinaldo, Michael Stone, Nikita Nesterov

Notable Exempt– Connor Zary, Jakob Pelletier, Juuso Valimaki, Dustin Wolf

Notable Exposed– Milan Lucic, Chris Tanev, Oliver Kylington, Mikael Backlund

Our Pick– Chris Tanev (4.5m)

Our Pick Explanation– Unless they sign someone, Calgary would need Lucic to waive his NMC in order to meet exposure requirements. We think Seattle is unlikely to take either Lucic or Backlund, as both have very expensive cap hits. Tanev however, would be a home run for the Seattle Kraken if they can pull it off. It all comes down to whether or not Calgary is comfortable exposing their captain, Mark Giordano, as Seattle would most likely take him if he were available. However, Chris Tanev would be a Top-4 defenseman on almost every team in the NHL today, and he’s one of the best defensemen according to AB as well. His +6.81 individual AB score this season was the best on the Flames roster this season, and he has an impressive +2.56 career AB score in eleven NHL seasons. He’s 31 years old and makes $4.5 million until the conclusion of the 2023-24 season. His former Vancouver Canucks teammates had nothing but great things to say about Tanev after he left for Calgary last offseason, and his impact was certainly missed by Quinn Hughes especially, as it was reported that Markstrom and Tanev were big mentors to Hughes and fellow Canucks star Elias Pettersson, which may have been a contributing factor to the Canucks struggles this season. We believe Tanev checks all the boxes as a locker room presence that can help a new team bond together, as they’ve never played together before. This should be a no-brainer, and we don’t even think a trade could prevent this from happening unless Seattle could get one of Pelletier or Zary, which is unlikely.

Carolina Hurricanes

Forward 1- Jordan Staal (NMC)

Forward 2- Sebastian Aho

Forward 3- Teuvo Teravainen

Forward 4- Nino Niederreiter

Forward 5- Andrei Svechnikov

Forward 6- Vincent Trocheck

Forward 7- Morgan Geekie

Defenseman 1- Brett Pesce

Defenseman 2- Jaccob Slavin

Defenseman 3- Jake Bean

Goaltender 1- Alex Nedeljkovic 

Notable UFAs- Brock McGinn, Jordan Martinook, Cedric Paquette, Dougie Hamilton, Jani Hakanpaa, James Reimer, Peter Mrazek

Notable Exempt– Martin Necas, Seth Jarvis, Ryan Suzuki, Dominik Bokk

Notable Exposed– Brady Skjei, Jake Gardiner, Warren Foegele, Jesper Fast

Our Pick– Warren Foegele (RFA)

Our Pick Explanation– Warren Foegele is a player that is rumored to be done in Carolina, and a possible trade is being discussed according to insiders around the league. However, if by some chance Carolina leaves Jake Bean exposed, Seattle should be in on him. We find that event incredibly unlikely as Foegele appears to be a logical pick here. We believe, if Carolina exposes him due to an inability to trade, Foegele should be the pick over Brady Skjei and Jake Gardiner for many reasons. First, and most obvious, the contract situation provides Seattle with more flexibility as Foegele is an RFA. Gardiner makes $4.05 million until the 2023-24 season, and Skjei makes $5.25 million until the 2024-25 season, which are high cap hits for struggling defensemen. Skjei only had 10 points this season to Gardiner’s 8, which is clearly underwhelming for players making that much money. Foegele outscored both of them combined this season registering 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points in 53 games. AB Wise, Brady Skjei had his best individual AB performance since his rookie year at a +0.77, Gardiner had his second consecutive negative season at -2.12, and Foegele had the 8th best score on the team with a +3.62, which was his highest score to date. Foegele is coming off back-to-back +3 individual AB seasons, which could be beneficial to Seattle’s bottom six with the players we’ve projected to this point in the article. We hope Seattle doesn’t take a chance on Skjei, but it’s certainly a possibility.

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward 1- Jonathan Toews (NMC)

Forward 2- Patrick Kane (NMC)

Forward 3- Alex DeBrincat

Forward 4- Dylan Strome

Forward 5- Henrik Borgstrom

Forward 6- Brandon Hagel

Forward 7- David Kampf

Defenseman 1- Duncan Keith (NMC)

Defenseman 2- Connor Murphy

Defenseman 3- Nikita Zadorov

Goaltender 1- Kevin Lankinen 

Notable UFAs- Zack Smith, Vinnie Hinostroza, Brandon Pirri,

Notable Exempt– Dominik Kubalik, Kirby Dach, Philipp Kurashev, Lukas Reichel, Adam Boqvist, Pius Suter

Notable Exposed– Calvin De Hann, Malcom Subban, Brett Connolly, Riley Stillman, Adam Gaudette, Ryan Carpenter

Our Pick– Riley Stillman (1.35m)

Our Pick Explanation– Chicago is rumored to be in trade talks with teams regarding Duncan Keith. If that happens, then they’ll most likely use the extra protection slot on Riley Stillman, as we really don’t think they want to lose him for nothing. Stillman played an average of 13:21 for coach Jeremy Colliton this season in his thirteen games with the team after being acquired from the Florida Panthers prior to the trade deadline. Stillman had the best AB score of any defenseman on the Blackhawks this past season at +1.83 and had the 4th best score on the team as a whole. Stillman had a goal in those thirteen games for his only point, however he had three assists in a five game stint with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL. Stillman only makes $1.35 until 2024-25, when he becomes an RFA at twenty-six years old. This is a player Seattle could have under team control for potentially the rest of his career. We believe he has incredible upside and could flourish under better coaching and more ice time. We’ll have to wait and see what Chicago does with Keith however, as our next article may have Seattle taking someone different to account for a potential deal there.

Colorado Avalanche

Forward 1- Nathan MacKinnon

Forward 2- Mikko Rantanen

Forward 3- Andre Burakovsky

Forward 4- Nazem Kadri

Forward 5- Gabriel Landeskog (UFA)

Forward 6- Valeri Nichushkin

Forward 7- Tyson Jost

Defenseman 1- Cale Makar

Defenseman 2- Devon Toews

Defenseman 3- Samuel Girard

Goaltender 1- Philip Grubauer (UFA)

NMC Waived- Erik Johnson

Notable UFAs- Brandon Saad, Matt Calvert, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Patrik Nemeth, Devan Dubnyk

Notable Exempt– Shane Bowers, Alex Newhook, Pavel Francouz, Bowen Byram

Notable Exposed– Erik Johnson, J.T. Compher, Ryan Graves, Joonas Donskoi

Our Pick– Ryan Graves (3.166m)

Our Pick Explanation– We believe Colorado will be able to keep their forward group together in this expansion draft, however they will lose a Top-4 defenseman in Ryan Graves. If Erik Johnson declines to waive is NMC, then Colorado will risk losing one of Graves, Girard, or Toews, which could be catastrophic. In this scenario however, Graves is a no-brainer for the Kraken if he is the one available. AB wise, Graves has only registered one negative individual AB season at -0.47 in his rookie year, then returned with an incredible +16.16 in his sophomore season before his +3.02 score this season. In his last two seasons, Ryan Graves has played in 123 games, scoring 11 goals, and registering 30 assists for 41 points as well as an outstanding +55 +/-. In our scenario, a pairing of Ryan Graves and Chris Tanev could be one of the most interesting parings in hockey and could be incredibly fun to watch next season. We have the Avs protecting Landeskog and Grubauer only because Seattle could talk to them earlier than every other NHL team, as well as all other pending unrestricted free agents, about potentially signing a deal with the Kraken. It isn’t worth the risk for the Avalanche in our opinion to expose Landeskog and potentially lose him due to the extended negotiation window Seattle has. Protecting Grubauer is also done in this scenario for insurance purposes, as Seattle most likely wouldn’t be interested in Colorado’s remaining goaltenders over players like Donskoi and Graves, who could make a significant early impact on their team.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forward 1- Cam Atkinson

Forward 2- Gustav Nyquist

Forward 3- Patrik Laine

Forward 4- Boone Jenner

Forward 5- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Forward 6- Jack Roslovic

Forward 7- Kevin Stenlund

Defenseman 1- Seth Jones

Defenseman 2- Zach Werenski

Defenseman 3- Vladislav Gavrikov

Goaltender 1- Joonas Korpisalo 

Notable UFAs- Zac Dalpe, Stefan Matteau, Michael Del Zotto

Notable Exempt– Emil Bemstrom, Alexandre Texier, Liam Foudy, Elvis Merzlikins

Notable Exposed– Max Domi, Eric Robinson, Dean Kukan, Nathan Gerbe

Our Pick– Eric Robinson (975k)

Our Pick Explanation– Although Domi had his worst individual AB season this year at -12.69 (2nd worst on CBJ ahead of only Patrik Laine) he is still a tempting pick here due to his past production in certain areas. However, we believe Eric Robinson is one of the most underrated players in the NHL today, and his AB scores show it. His +3.77 score on the -97.41 2020-21 Columbus Blue Jackets was the best on the team by over two points, and his +5.33 score in 2019-20 was also the best on the team. Robinson has an outstanding career AB of +4.55, which puts him into consideration for this spot without a doubt. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.

Dallas Stars

Forward 1- Tyler Seguin (NMC)

Forward 2- Jamie Benn (NMC)

Forward 3- Alexander Radulov (NMC)

Forward 4- Joe Pavelski

Forward 5- Radek Faksa

Forward 6- Roope Hintz

Forward 7- Denis Gurianov

Defenseman 1- Miro Heiskanen

Defenseman 2- John Klingberg

Defenseman 3- Esa Lindell

Goaltender 1- Ben Bishop (NMC)

Notable UFAs- Jamie Oleksiak, Sami Vatanen, Mark Pysyk, Andrew Cogliano, Justin Dowling

Notable Exempt– Joel Kiviranta, Ty Dellandrea, Jason Robertson, Thomas Harley, Jake Oettinger

Notable Exposed– Andrej Sekera, Blake Comeau, Jason Dickinson, Tanner Kero, Nicholas Cammano

Our Pick– Jason Dickinson (RFA)

Our Pick Explanation– Jason Dickinson is a highly talented defensive center who is twenty-six years old. In our four years of data on him, he has registered above a +5 AB score twice, and has yet to register a negative season in his career. He is a restricted free agent this offseason, and projects to make somewhere between 2-3 million. He would be a perfect 3rd line center for this Kraken team, as most of our players drafted to this point are primarily wingers. This pick is a no-brainer for us, and Seattle would be making a mistake passing on him in our opinion. Dallas most likely doesn’t want to lose Dickinson for nothing, and a potential trade here makes sense. If Dickinson is protected, which is very possible, whichever forward Dallas does not protect out of Faksa, Pavelski, Hintz, or Dickinson is who Seattle should take here. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Andrej Sekera be selected here as well, as he had a great AB season this year too.

Detroit Red Wings

Forward 1- Dylan Larkin

Forward 2- Jakub Vrana

Forward 3- Tyler Bertuzzi

Forward 4- Robby Fabbri

Forward 5- Michael Rasmussen

Forward 6- Adam Erne

Forward 7- Evgeny Svechnikov

Defenseman 1- Filip Hronek

Defenseman 2- Dennis Cholowski

Defenseman 3- Troy Stecher

Goaltender 1- Thomas Greiss

Notable UFAs- Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula, Luke Glendening, Bobby Ryan, Sam Gagner, Marc Staal, Jonathan Bernier

Notable Exempt– Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider, Jonathan Berggren

Notable Exposed– Frans Nielsen, Richard Panik, Vladislav Namestnikov, Danny DeKeyser, Christian Djoos, 

Our Pick– Christian Djoos (RFA)

Our Pick Explanation– Seattle doesn’t have very much to work with here, however Christian Djoos could be a very good project for Seattle to experiment with. Djoos has been a very highly positive AB defenseman throughout his career with the Washington Capitals, with the exception of this year, as he registered an abysmal -10.71 score with the Detroit Red Wings. Bottom feeding teams such as Detroit, usually finish with a team AB score anywhere between -70 to -100 or worse, which was the case for the Wings this season. Several players scores appear worse than they really are due to how bad the team was, and we think this could be the case with Djoos, as in Washington, his average AB score was a +5.3. He is a restricted free agent and shouldn’t cost Seattle much cap wise to re-sign him. Detroit isn’t in a position to give up draft picks to move salary, as many of their worst contracts expire after the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, making it unlikely we see a trade. We project Seattle is going to need their cap space for later moves, and we believe Christian Djoos can be a serviceable NHL defenseman for Seattle in the future, as he is still only twenty-six years old.

Edmonton Oilers

Forward 1- Connor McDavid

Forward 2- Leon Draisaitl

Forward 3- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Forward 4- Jesse Puljujarvi

Forward 5- Kailer Yamamoto

Forward 6- Zack Kassian

Forward 7- Dominik Kahun

Defenseman 1- Darnell Nurse

Defenseman 2- Oskar Klefbom

Defenseman 3- Ethan Bear

Goaltender 1- Mikko Koskinen

Notable UFAs- Mike Smith, Adam Larsson, Dmitry Kulikov, Tyson Barrie, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Ennis

Notable Exempt– Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg, Dylan Holloway

Notable Exposed– Kris Russell, Caleb Jones, Josh Archibald, Kyle Turris, James Neal

Our Pick– Caleb Jones (RFA)

Our Pick Explanation– Caleb Jones is another very interesting player. Similar to Djoos, Jones’ career AB score has taken a hit as a result of playing for one bad team. The 2018-19 Edmonton Oilers finished with a combined team score of -126.76, which was among the worst in the NHL that season. Jones’ AB score that season was -8.09 but saw a massive improvement under new Oilers coach Dave Tippett in 2019-20 with a +0.07 score. This season, it decreased back to a -2.78 score, which still averages out to a -1.35 in two seasons under Tippett. The upside is there with Jones, as he is only twenty-three years old. He only averaged around 13.5 minutes per game this season with the Oilers, however we believe his production will increase with a bigger role. Edmonton has been one of the teams rumored to have interest in Duncan Keith. If they end up acquiring him, then that could leave Ethan Bear or Oskar Klefbom exposed unless they are part of the package going to Chicago. They will be a very interesting team to watch during this expansion period, and we will surely be keeping an eye on them.

Florida Panthers

Forward 1- Jonathan Huberdeau (NMC)

Forward 2- Aleksander Barkov

Forward 3- Sam Bennett

Forward 4- Patrick Hornqvist

Forward 5- Carter Verhaeghe

Forward 6- Anthony Duclair

Forward 7- Frank Vatrano

Defenseman 1- Aaron Ekblad

Defenseman 2- MacKenzie Weegar

Defenseman 3- Markus Nutivaara

Goaltender 1- Sergei Bobrovsky (NMC)

NMC Waived- Keith Yandle

Notable UFAs- Alexander Wennberg, Brandon Montour, Chris Driedger

Notable Exempt– Owen Tippett, Spencer Knight

Notable Exposed– Radko Gudas, Anton Stralman, Keith Yandle, Mason Marchment, Ryan Lomberg, Noel Acciari, Gustav Forsling

Our Pick– Radko Gudas (2.5m)

Our Pick Explanation– Florida had an outstanding year, and a large part of it is due to their terrific defense group. Radko Gudas had a solid year, scoring two goals and registering nine assists for eleven points. He finished with a +2.62 AB score, which was 3rd best of the Panthers’ defense group behind only MacKenzie Weegar’s +13.18, and Gustav Forsling’s +8.5. We could also see the Kraken opting to take Forsling, but Gudas’ grit and toughness is something that the new expansion team will definitely be needing. If Florida opts to protect Gudas over Markus Nutivaara, then we believe Nutivaara will be the Kraken’s selection. This is all dependent on Keith Yandle deciding to move his NMC, and there could be a scenario where both Nutivaara and Gudas are left exposed. Regardless, we believe the Kraken will end up with a solid defenseman from the Panthers, whether it be Gudas, Nutivaara, or Forsling.

Los Angeles Kings

Forward 1- Anze Kopitar

Forward 2- Viktor Arvidsson

Forward 3- Alex Iafallo

Forward 4- Adrian Kempe

Forward 5- Dustin Brown

Forward 6- Andreas Athanasiou

Forward 7- Lias Andersson

Defenseman 1- Drew Doughty (NMC)

Defenseman 2- Matt Roy

Defenseman 3- Kale Clague

Goaltender 1- Cal Petersen

Notable UFAs- Martin Frk

Notable Exempt– Alex Turcotte, Quinton Byfield, Gabriel Vilardi, Arthur Kaliyev, Jaret Anderson-Dolan,

Notable Exposed– Olli Maatta, Sean Walker, Trevor Moore, Brenden Lemieux, Carl Grundstrom, Blake Lizotte

Our Pick– Olli Maatta (3.33m)

Our Pick Explanation– With the Kings acquiring Viktor Arvidsson to fill one of their open forward protection slots, Los Angeles’ defensive protection slots are the ones under examination by us. Drew Doughty must be protected, as he has an NMC, however the combination the Kings can choose from to fill the remaining two slots fascinate us. We decided to protect the defensemen with the two best AB scores on the team this season in Matt Roy and Kale Clague, which we believe makes sense given the cap position the Kings are in as well. Los Angeles is rumored to be in the Jack Eichel sweepstakes and clearing out Sean Walker’s 2.65 million dollar cap hit, or Olli Maatta’s 3.33 million could help LA in taking on Eichel’s full salary should a deal be made. We picked Maatta for Seattle as he has always been a very positive AB defenseman. In his eight NHL seasons, he has registered positive scores five times, but hasn’t registered a positive score since 2018-19 in Pittsburgh. Similar to some of the other players we have selected, we believe that Maatta has been negatively impacted by playing on below average teams, and we don’t project Seattle to be that. Maatta could play in Seattle’s Top-4, and perhaps be one of their better all around defensemen from year one. All this being said, we could definitely see Seattle opting to go with a talented forward in this scenario such as Moore, Lemieux, or Grundstrom, however, we will have to see when protection lists are released whether any of this is even possible.

Minnesota Wild

Forward 1- Zach Parise (NMC)

Forward 2- Mats Zuccarello (NMC)

Forward 3- Kevin Fiala

Forward 4- Ryan Hartman

Forward 5- Nico Sturm

Forward 6- Joel Eriksson Ek

Forward 7- Jordan Greenway

Defenseman 1- Matt Dumba

Defenseman 2- Jonas Brodin

Defenseman 3- Jared Spurgeon

Goaltender 1- Cam Talbot

NMC Waived- Ryan Suter

Notable UFAs- Marcus Johansson, Nick Bonino, Ian Cole

Notable Exempt– Kirill Kaprizov, Marco Rossi, Matthew Boldy, Calen Addison

Notable Exposed– Carson Soucy, Nick Bjugstad, Viktor Rask

Our Pick– Carson Soucy (2.75m)

Our Pick Explanation– Minnesota is one of the most interesting teams to follow during this expansion process. They’re going to lose a very high caliber player regardless of whether Zach Parise or Ryan Suter waive their NMC’s. We believe Suter will without question, but we are more skeptical regarding Parise. Seattle most likely won’t be interested in taking on either player’s mammoth contract, but them waiving could be much more helpful to Wild GM Bill Guerin, as he attempts to protect as many of his key players as possible. It’s very likely that the Wild lose a significant defenseman, as Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon each have NMC’s that probably won’t be waived. This means one of Carson Soucy or Matt Dumba will be left exposed, and perhaps Guerin will be making a trade to accumulate assets for one of these players to prevent losing them for nothing. If no trades are made, we believe whoever is left exposed among Soucy or Dumba is the obvious choice for Seattle, as they immediately get a Top-4 defenseman on a potentially cheap cap hit. We chose Soucy for that reason, as he makes about $3.25 million less that Dumba, and is better AB wise. In his two NHL seasons of data we have on him, Soucy’s career AB score is an impressive +7.62, as he registered a +8.27 in 2019-20, and a +6.96 in his first year under coach Dean Evason. On the other hand, Dumba has failed to register positive individual AB seasons for three consecutive years and has only registered three in his eight year career. If we were Bill Guerin, we would try and move Dumba prior to the expansion draft to protect Soucy, making the Kraken have to chose between Ryan Hartman and Nick Bjugstad. Regardless, Seattle is getting a talented player from Minnesota here, and we will have to see what moves the Wild make prior to the expansion draft if any.

Montreal Canadiens

Forward 1- Brendan Gallagher (NMC)

Forward 2- Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Forward 3- Artturi Lehkonen

Forward 4- Tyler Toffoli

Forward 5- Josh Anderson

Forward 6- Philip Danault (UFA)

Forward 7- Jake Evans   

Defenseman 1- Shea Weber

Defenseman 2- Jeff Petry

Defenseman 3-Joel Edmundson

Goaltender 1- Carey Price

Notable UFAs- Tomas Tatar, Eric Staal, Jordan Weal, Corey Perry, Michael Frolik, Erik Gustafsson, Jon Merrill

Notable Exempt– Ryan Poehling, Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov, Jesse Ylonen

Notable Exposed– Jake Allen, Paul Byron, Ben Chiarot, Brett Kulak, Cale Fleury, Jonathan Drouin  

Our Pick– Jake Allen (2.8m)

Our Pick Explanation– Montreal is a confusing team to examine during this pre-protection list submission process, as they only meet the exposure requirements if they opt to expose Jonathan Drouin, which is most likely something GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t want to do. We believe this is where Seattle will make their first of three goaltender selections, as Jake Allen’s reduced cap hit of $2.8 million for the next two seasons is something that certainly can’t be ignored. Allen posted a .907 save percentage in his 29 games with Montreal this season and had an 11-12-5 record in those games. At thirty years old, Allen is perfectly capable backup goaltender, and could potentially Seattle’s eventual starter for the main job as well. We believe this decision is a no-brainer for the Kraken management team, as the other options available aren’t too appealing. Unless however, Drouin is exposed and they can get an asset for taking on the remaining couple years on his contract, in hopes of rejuvenating his career. Again, we need more information out of Montreal before we can put a clear protection list together. More to come from them hopefully.

Nashville Predators

Skater 1- Filip Forsberg

Skater 2- Luke Kunin

Skater 3- Colton Sissons

Skater 4- Calle Jarnkrok

Skater 5- Roman Josi (NMC)

Skater 6- Ryan Ellis

Skater 7- Mattias Ekholm

Skater 8- Alexandre Carrier

Goaltender 1- Juuse Saros

Notable UFAs- Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Brad Richardson, Erik Gudbranson

Notable Exempt– Eeli Tolvanen, Philip Tomasino

Notable Exposed– Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, Dante Fabbro, Rocco Grimaldi, Nick Cousins

Our Pick– Ryan Johansen (8m)

Our Pick Explanation– The Nashville Predators are hands down the most interesting team to watch in this entire expansion process. With the Viktor Arvidsson deal, the Predators management signaled to us that they are going with the eight skaters and a goalie protection list option, as Josi, Ellis, and Ekholm were automatic protects. This leaves one spot available for either Alexandre Carrier or Dante Fabbro, who are both talented young defensemen. In this scenario, we protected Carrier as he registered a +1.95 rookie season AB score, and Fabbro has yet to register a score above -3 in his two-year career to this point. Regardless, this is where we believe our first significant trade will occur, as we think this is David Poile’s opportunity to move one of Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene’s 8 million dollar cap hit to create much needed space. To do this, we believe Nashville will need to give up their 2021 1st round pick (18th overall) as well as a talented prospect such as Philip Tomasino, or perhaps even Fabbro in order for the Kraken to accept. In this scenario, we believe they would, as we think they would have more interest in Ryan Johansen then Matt Duchene due to the fact that Johansen is younger than Duchene with less term remaining on his deal. Johansen scored seven goals and registered fifteen assists for twenty-two points on a Predators team that barely snuck into the playoffs this season only to be eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. Johansen would enter the Kraken organization as one of the faces of the franchise and would almost certainly be their best Center on day one. Along with Johansen, the assets acquired with him could be significant pieces for the expansion team moving forward, making us believe it would be worth GM Ron Francis’ time to consider this option.

New Jersey Devils

Forward 1- Nico Hischier

Forward 2- Yegor Sharangovich

Forward 3- Miles Wood

Forward 4- Jesper Bratt

Forward 5- Pavel Zacha

Forward 6- Nick Merkley 

Forward 7- Janne Kuokkanen

Defenseman 1- P.K. Subban

Defenseman 2- Damon Severson

Defenseman 3- Jonas Siegenthaler

Goaltender 1- Mackenzie Blackwood

Notable UFAs- Ryan Murray, Connor Carrick, Aaron Dell

Notable Exempt– Jack Hughes, Jesper Boqvist, Dawson Mercer, Alexander Holtz, Nolan Foote, Ty Smith, Kevin Bahl

Notable Exposed– Andreas Johnsson, Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, Will Butcher 

Our Pick– Andreas Johnsson (3.4m)

Our Pick Explanation– Similar to the Montreal Canadiens, the New Jersey Devils most likely need to make a move prior to the expansion draft in order to meet exposure requirements. In this scenario, we have them losing Andreas Johnsson to the Kraken, as he would most likely be the odd man out if a lesser forward isn’t signed. Johnsson had the 2nd best AB score on the Devils this season with a +0.2, behind only Jesper Bratt’s +2.45. Career wise, Johnsson has registered positive AB scores in each of his three NHL seasons, including an impressive +5.87 score in his rookie season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This could be another scenario where the Kraken can earn a draft pick or a prospect in exchange for taking on Johnsson’s remaining salary, as the Devils are rumored to have interest in all of the top available defenseman this offseason such as Seth Jones and Dougie Hamilton. Freeing up $3.25 million in cap space, especially after Johnsson’s disappointing season production wise makes sense for GM Tom Fitzgerald and his group and gifting the Kraken a third round pick to make it happen shouldn’t be something they rule out. However, if they sign another forward before the expansion draft, that signals to us they intend to keep Johnsson, and Seattle would have to chose between Nick Merkley, Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, or Will Butcher, which is a situation we would much rather be in if we were Devils management.

New York Islanders

Forward 1- Matthew Barzal

Forward 2- Anders Lee

Forward 3- Brock Nelson

Forward 4- Jordan Eberle

Forward 5- Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Forward 6- Josh Bailey

Forward 7- Anthony Beauvillier 

Defenseman 1- Ryan Pulock

Defenseman 2- Adam Pelech

Defenseman 3- Scott Mayfield

Goaltender 1- Semyon Varlamov

Notable UFAs- Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac, Casey Cizikas, Josh Ho-Sang 

Notable Exempt– Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, Ilya Sorokin

Notable Exposed– Nick Leddy, Kieffer Bellows, Leo Komarov, Andrew Ladd, Matt Martin

Our Pick– Kieffer Bellows (RFA)

Our Pick Explanation– Kieffer Bellows is one of the few significant players that aren’t eligible for the NHL’s two seasons of professional experience exposure rule despite him only playing this season in the NHL. Bellows played enough games in the AHL since he was drafted to allow him to be exposed, and quite likely, Seattle’s pick. On a New York Islanders team that was one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals this season, Bellows registered a +2.37 AB score which was the 10th best on the Islanders roster. The former 1st round pick played in fourteen games this season scoring three goals for his only three points. If given the opportunity, we believe Bellows could provide some depth scoring for the Kraken next season, as he recently had thirty-one points in fifty-five games, including twenty-two goals for Bridgeport of the AHL in 2019-20. We don’t see a possibility where the Islanders do not protect the seven forwards we listed, leaving Bellows to be the odd man out. At only twenty-three years old, we believe there is still great potential for him to be an NHL regular, and that this is a no-brainer for the Kraken management group to take a gamble on him.

New York Rangers

Forward 1- Artemi Panarin (NMC)

Forward 2- Mika Zibanejad (NMC)

Forward 3- Chris Kreider (NMC)

Forward 4- Pavel Buchnevich

Forward 5- Filip Chytil

Forward 6- Ryan Strome

Forward 7- Colin Blackwell

Defenseman 1- Jacob Trouba (NMC)

Defenseman 2- Ryan Lindgren

Defenseman 3- Libor Hajek

Goaltender 1- Alexandar Georgiev

Notable UFAs- Brendan Smith, Jack Johnson,

Notable Exempt– Alexis Lafrenière, Kaapo Kakko, Vitaly Kravtsov, Adam Fox, K’Andre Miller, Zac Jones, Nils Lundkvist, Braden Schneider, Igor Shesterkin

Notable Exposed– Brett Howden, Julien Gauthier, Kevin Rooney, Anthony DeAngelo

Our Pick– Kevin Rooney (750k)

Our Pick Explanation– The young, up-and-coming New York Rangers are one of the least interesting teams in this expansion draft process due to the fact the majority of their team is exempt as we listed above. However, the Rangers do have one defensive protection slot open, as they’d probably expose Libor Hajek if they had a better option. There could potentially be a trade open, as some teams we’ve already discussed have crowded defensive groups they may prefer to deal than potentially lose for nothing. In this scenario, we assume there is no trade, leaving the Kraken’s best options being Brett Howden, Kevin Rooney, Julien Gauthier, and disgruntled defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, who the Rangers are most likely going to buy out if he isn’t selected. There could be a possibility where the Rangers offer Seattle a pick to take DeAngelo, however, we see them opting to go a cheaper route with less term commitment. Kevin Rooney fits this, as he had a solid season with the Rangers this year. Rooney had a -0.06 AB score this season, which is a steep fall from his +5.66 score he registered the year before across the Hudson with the New Jersey Devils. Despite this negative season, Rooney’s career AB score is a +1.49 in a three-year span, which is more than serviceable for a 3rd-4th liner. Brett Howden appears to be a more popular pick from the Rangers according to other blogs and analysts and we could very much see that happening, however, his career AB is -4.54 over the same three years, including two consecutive -6 or worse seasons in 2018-19 and 2019-20, which is why we’d prefer Rooney. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers do decide to trade for a defenseman prior to the expansion draft, however, we believe all significant players will remain on the roster following Seattle’s decision. They are also rumored to be the frontrunners by many sources in the Jack Eichel sweepstakes, so perhaps dumping DeAngelo’s cap hit on the Kraken to free up room for Eichel makes more sense. We will certainly be monitoring this, but we don’t think an Eichel deal happens until the period after the expansion draft, but prior to the NHL draft.

Ottawa Senators

Forward 1- Evgeni Dadonov

Forward 2- Colin White

Forward 3- Connor Brown

Forward 4- Brady Tkachuk

Forward 5- Drake Batherson

Forward 6- Logan Brown

Forward 7- Nicholas Paul

Defenseman 1- Thomas Chabot

Defenseman 2- Nikita Zaitsev

Defenseman 3- Victor Mete

Goaltender 1- Filip Gustavsson

Notable UFAs- Derek Stepan, Artem Anisimov, Ryan Dzingel, 

Notable Exempt– Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, Shane Pinto, Alex Formenton, Erik Brannstrom, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Artem Zub, Ridly Greig

Notable Exposed– Matt Murray, Chris Tierney, Josh Brown, Vitaly Abramov, Joey Daccord

Our Pick– Joey Daccord (750k)

Our Pick Explanation– Ottawa is another team leaving Seattle very few quality options to take advantage of in this draft. If they decide to leave Nicholas Paul exposed, he would be our selection. However, we are confident this protection list above will be quite similar if not exactly the same as the Senators real list that will be made official on July 17th. This is where Seattle’s second of three goaltenders come in. We would be shocked if Filip Gustavsson were left exposed by Ottawa in this draft, as he is arguably the best goaltender, they have in the organization today. If he is available, we fully expect the Kraken to select him, and for him to compete for their starting job on day one. The Senators have a top-10 pick in the 2021 NHL draft, and with two very talented goaltending prospects available there, makes this loss a bit less significant. Perhaps they try and tempt Seattle to take Matt Murray contract off their hands for a pick or prospect, but we find this very unlikely due to the high availability of goaltenders in this expansion draft. Daccord would be a solid third-string option for the Kraken however, as he is still twenty-four years old, with a few games of NHL experience under his belt. Regardless, Ottawa can only protect one goaltender, and whoever they decide to expose between Daccord and Gustavsson should be the pick in our eyes.

Philadelphia Flyers

Forward 1- Claude Giroux (NMC)

Forward 2- Kevin Hayes (NMC)

Forward 3- James van Riemsdyk

Forward 4- Travis Konecny

Forward 5- Sean Couturier

Forward 6- Scott Laughton

Forward 7- Nolan Patrick

Defenseman 1- Ivan Provorov

Defenseman 2- Shayne Gostisbehere

Defenseman 3- Travis Sanheim

Goaltender 1- Carter Hart

Notable UFAs- Brian Elliot, Samuel Morin

Notable Exempt– Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Cam York,

Notable Exposed– Jakub Voracek, Oskar Lindblom, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Phillipe Myers, Justin Braun, Robert Hagg,

Our Pick– Jakub Voracek (8.25m)

Our Pick Explanation– This is the second of three major trades we project to see come expansion draft night, as the Flyers have stated they plan on leaving Jakub Voracek exposed in an attempt to clear salary and give him a change of scenery. Like the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers are also one of the teams interested in bolstering their defense group this offseason, Seth Jones in particular, and are going to need all the money they can get if they plan on extending Jones immediately upon the trade. Philadelphia has the 13th overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft, and we would see that most likely going to the Kraken in this deal, along with either Morgan Frost, Cam York, Joel Farabee, or other draft picks in order to take all of Voracek’s remaining salary. Voracek has usually been a positive AB player throughout his career, as he has a +0.27 career AB score in thirteen years of data. However, his last four seasons have been on a weird pattern of highly positive, then very negative, back to positive, then back to negative (+4.77, -8.18, +7.56, -4.01). He had a solid point production season this year, as he scored nine goals, and registered thirty-four assists in fifty-three games for the Flyers, as well as the -4.01 individual season AB score we already mentioned. Voracek would instantly become Seattle’s most dynamic winger and could be a potential linemate of Ryan Johansen’s on the Kraken’s first line. It would certainly be fun to watch, and Voracek’s contract expires at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, making him thirty-four years old. This would be Seattle’s third 1st round pick in the 2021 NHL draft, and they would appear to be doing something similar to the Golden Knights’ expansion strategy, as the Knights also had three first rounders to start their franchise off with through expansion draft deals. The difference between them would be that Seattle is acquiring impact players that can help them right away, as opposed to Vegas just collecting cap dumps for players that never suited up for them, such as David Clarkson and Mikhail Grabovski. It will surely be something interesting to monitor, and we should get more news of these events closer to the actual expansion draft date of July 21st,2021.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forward 1- Sidney Crosby (NMC)

Forward 2- Evgeni Malkin (NMC)

Forward 3- Jake Guentzel

Forward 4- Bryan Rust

Forward 5- Jason Zucker

Forward 6- Brandon Tanev

Forward 7- Kasperi Kapanen

Defenseman 1- Kris Letang

Defenseman 2- Michael Matheson

Defenseman 3- Marcus Pettersson

Goaltender 1- Tristan Jarry

Notable UFAs- Colton Sceviour, Cody Ceci, Juuso Riikola

Notable Exempt– John Marino, Pierre-Olivier Joseph

Notable Exposed– Brian Dumoulin, Jared McCann, Zach Aston-Reese, Teddy Blueger, Sam Lafferty

Our Pick– Jared McCann (2.94m)

Our Pick Explanation– Jared McCann has the opportunity to be Seattle’s version of William Karlsson in our opinion. Like Karlsson, McCann also had an insanely high individual season AB score heading into the expansion draft, as he registered an outstanding +11.74 score in 2020-21, to Karlsson’s +6.64 in 2016-17. Jared McCann also had the highest AB score on the Pittsburgh Penguins team this season with the +11.74, and even contributed 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points in 43 games. He would instantly be Seattle’s first or second line center, and we fully expect this to be the pick should McCann be left available. It’s entirely possible that the Penguins expose Jason Zucker or Brandon Tanev instead to protect McCann, and in that situation, whoever is left exposed of those three is the selection in our opinion. We could also see a trade scenario happen here so that Pittsburgh doesn’t end up losing one of those three players for nothing, perhaps in a similar deal to the Viktor Arvidsson deal with Los Angeles. We’ll be watching this closely for the next week leading up to protection list submissions without question.

San Jose Sharks

Forward 1- Logan Couture

Forward 2- Timo Meier

Forward 3- Tomas Hertl

Forward 4- Kevin Labanc

Forward 5- Ryan Donato

Forward 6- Dylan Gambrell

Forward 7- Rudolfs Balcers

Defenseman 1- Erik Karlsson (NMC)

Defenseman 2- Marc-Edouard Vlasic (NMC)

Defenseman 3- Brent Burns

Goaltender 1- Martin Jones

Notable UFAs- Marcus Sorensen, Patrick Marleau, Kurtis Gabriel, Greg Pateryn

Notable Exempt– Ryan Merkley, Alexander Barabanov, Noah Gregor, Joel Kellman

Notable Exposed– Evander Kane, Matt Nieto, Radim Simek

Our Pick– Matt Nieto (700k)

Our Pick Explanation– Matt Nieto is a perfect 4th line caliber player for the Seattle Kraken to take a chance on. He doesn’t make as much money as other players left exposed and is by far the best AB wise of the group. While Evander Kane and his 49 points in 56 games may be appealing in this scenario, his off the ice issues could prevent him from being selected. With Nieto, Seattle gets a player who scored five goals and two assists in twenty-eight games averaging around 14 minutes of ice time per game. Nieto had the 7th best AB score on an abysmal San Jose Sharks team this season with a -3.22, which is the first negative AB season he registered since 2016-17. His career AB score is -0.88 in the eight years of data we have on him. San Jose is another team giving Seattle very few intriguing options, but taking a flyer on Nieto is something that we could definitely see them doing given the choices.

St. Louis Blues

Forward 1- Ryan O’Reilly

Forward 2- Brayden Schenn

Forward 3- David Perron

Forward 4- Oskar Sundqvist

Forward 5- Samuel Blais

Forward 6- Robert Thomas

Forward 7- Jordan Kyrou

Defenseman 1- Torey Krug

Defenseman 2- Justin Faulk

Defenseman 3- Colton Parayko

Goaltender 1- Jordan Binnington

Notable UFAs- Jaden Schwartz, Tyler Bozak, Mike Hoffman

Notable Exempt– Dakota Joshua, Klim Kostin, Jake Neighbours

Notable Exposed– Vladimir Tarasenko, Zach Sanford, Marco Scandella, Vince Dunn

Our Pick– Vladimir Tarasenko (7.5m)

Our Pick Explanation– This is the third and most significant trade of our projection article. Vladimir Tarasenko recently requested a trade out of St. Louis, and we believe Seattle is a perfect place for him to attempt his comeback from injuries to return to the elite player we all know and love. He has been one of the best players in the league in all facets, including AB throughout his time in the NHL, as he has a +6.79 career AB score over a nine year period, including two seasons where he registered +15 or higher individual scores. This season however, he registered his first negative season of his career as a result of his injuries, yet still managed to record 14 points in 24 games with the Blues. This is another example of a team desperately needing money to sign their high profile restricted free agents such as Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas, so clearing Tarasenko’s $7.5 million in one trade is definitely something we expect GM Doug Armstrong to look into. There have been rumors that Tarasenko wanted to play for an Eastern Conference contender such as the New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, or Carolina Hurricanes, however, a trade to Seattle would be out of his control, and if Doug Armstrong were willing to part with St. Louis’ 16th overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft, they would probably get their cap relief. This trade would give Seattle their instant face of the franchise, as well as their first line winger to play with either Johansen or McCann in our projection, in addition to their 4th first round pick. This trade is the one we hope to see happen the most, as we feel it would be a great storyline to monitor until the end of Tarasenko’s contract. In some ways, he could be Seattle’s version of James Neal, as a healthy Tarasenko is a shoo-in for 25-30 goals and 60-70 points without question.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward 1- Nikita Kucherov (NMC)

Forward 2- Steven Stamkos (NMC)

Forward 3- Brayden Point

Forward 4- Ondrej Palat

Forward 5- Anthony Cirelli

Forward 6- Yanni Gourde

Forward 7- Mathieu Joseph

Defenseman 1- Victor Hedman

Defenseman 2- Mikhail Sergachev

Defenseman 3- Ryan McDonagh

Goaltender 1- Andrei Vasilevskiy

Notable UFAs- Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, David Savard, Luke Schenn

Notable Exempt– NONE

Notable Exposed– Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Patrick Maroon, Mitchell Stephens, Ross Colton, Erik Cernak, Jan Rutta, Cal Foote

Our Pick– Erik Cernak (2.95m)

Our Pick Explanation– The back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions are also one of the most interesting teams to watch this expansion season due to the extreme amount of organizational talent that they have. Everyone is aware of the Lightning’s need to clear cap space, as they were about 18 million over the cap this playoff season. Doing this will likely require them to move one or both of Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, as we see them being attached to the Seattle pick, whoever it may be. In this scenario however, we believe whichever defenseman is exposed between Erik Cernak and Ryan McDonagh is the pick. There is a realistic scenario that we see where Tampa goes with the eight skater and a goalie option, protecting Kucherov, Cirelli, Stamkos, and Point with the four D-men. Assuming our protection list above is the actual scenario, then Cernak and his +3.32 individual AB score in 2020-21 is the selection without question. He’d be an immediate top-4 defenseman in Seattle and could thrive under a bigger role. He could be Seattle’s Shea Theodore, with the potential to be even better, as he has a +6.08 career AB score in three seasons compared to Theodore’s +2.71 in six seasons. We will certainly be monitoring any trade scenarios that could be involved here and wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle decided to go with Cal Foote, leaving Tampa in a deeper hole cap wise than they already are. It’ll definitely be interesting to see.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Skater 1- Auston Matthews

Skater 2- Mitch Marner

Skater 3- William Nylander

Skater 4- John Tavares (NMC)

Skater 5- Morgan Reilly

Skater 6- Jake Muzzin

Skater 7- T.J. Brodie

Skater 8- Travis Dermott

Goaltender 1- Jack Campbell

Notable UFAs- Zach Hyman, Riley Nash, Nick Foligno, Alex Galchenyuk, Joe Thornton, Zach Bogosian, Ben Hutton, Frederik Andersen, David Rittich

Notable Exempt– Ilya Mikheyev, Nick Robertson, Rodion Amirov, Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren

Notable Exposed– Alex Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall, Wayne Simmonds, Adam Brooks, Jason Spezza, Justin Holl

Our Pick– Alex Kerfoot (3.5m)

Our Pick Explanation– With Toronto’s recent extension of Travis Dermott, we believe they intend to protect him in the upcoming expansion draft, and that the eight skater option is the most likely for them to proceed with. Many of their forwards are unrestricted free agents, and several of the exposed forwards are older, less desirable pieces for Seattle. In this 4-4-1 option, Seattle would need to decide between Alex Kerfoot and Justin Holl, and we believe they should select Kerfoot after his very solid season with the Leafs playing a variety of different roles. He can play on the penalty kill, power play, and anywhere up and down the lineup like he did this season in Toronto. His $3.5 million cap hit is a moveable deal if Seattle decides to move off of him down the road, but a center group of Johansen, McCann, and Kerfoot with Matthew Beniers coming by way of the draft, is certainly very appealing. Kerfoot had the best individual AB season of his career this year with a +1.4, as well as his only positive season to date in four years. We believe he is ready for a bigger role, and playing under his former assistant coach in Dave Hakstol, who is familiar with his skillset, could lead to better production. Kerfoot had twenty-three points in fifty-six games this year with the Leafs and was one of their better playoff performers as well. All this being said, we could definitely see Seattle taking a similar approach to the Vegas expansion draft and selecting a large number of defenseman, making a Justin Holl pick here very unsurprising should it happen. This is another situation where the actual protection lists should give us a better indication of everyone’s mindset, and we will be monitoring it very closely in the coming week.

Vancouver Canucks

Forward 1- Elias Pettersson

Forward 2- Brock Boeser

Forward 3- J.T. Miller

Forward 4- Tanner Pearson

Forward 5- Jake Virtanen

Forward 6- Bo Horvat

Forward 7- Kole Lind

Defenseman 1- Tyler Myers

Defenseman 2- Olli Juolevi

Defenseman 3- Nate Schmidt

Goaltender 1- Thatcher Demko

Notable UFAs- Brandon Sutter, Sven Baertschi, Jimmy Vesey, Alex Edler, Travis Hamonic

Notable Exempt– Quinn Hughes, Nils Hoglander, Vasily Podkolzin, Jett Woo, Michael DiPietro

Notable Exposed– Louie Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Tyler Motte, Zack MacEwen, Matthew Highmore, Madison Bowey, Braden Holtby 

Our Pick– Zack MacEwen (825k)

Our Pick Explanation– Vancouver is another team that doesn’t have very many interesting options for the Kraken to chose from. Several members of the Vancouver media have expressed their thoughts on the expansion draft in their work (podcasts, articles, etc.) and we believe they have some of the better content available for fans outside of the Canucks base, who want to learn more about the state of the team. In listening to them, we get the feeling that the consensus is that the Canucks and their fans aren’t very worried about this expansion draft, as the majority of their good players are either exempt or locks to be protected, potentially giving GM Jim Benning an opportunity to move one of their bad contracts in exchange for cap relief to aid in the extension processes of franchise cornerstones Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. We can definitely see a possibility where Benning gives Seattle picks or prospects to take on one of the Eriksson, Beagle, or Roussel deals, however, in this situation, we project them selecting Zack MacEwen. MacEwen is a serviceable bottom-six forward who had a -2.07 AB score this season, which happened to be the 8th best score on a disappointing Canucks team this season. MacEwen’s career AB score is -1.55, which is acceptable given that he does provide some grit and toughness. There are some rumors that Seattle would take Braden Holtby to potentially be their version of Marc-Andre Fleury in Vegas, however, there are better goaltenders available in our opinion that are younger with less term. We could still see it happen if Benning were to add a pick or prospect in, yet we believe Seattle taking a cheap forward is a much more likely option.

Washington Capitals

Forward 1- Alex Ovechkin (UFA)

Forward 2- Nicklas Backstrom (NMC)

Forward 3- Evgeny Kuznetsov

Forward 4- T.J. Oshie

Forward 5- Anthony Mantha

Forward 6- Tom Wilson

Forward 7- Lars Eller

Defenseman 1- John Carlson

Defenseman 2- Dmitry Orlov

Defenseman 3- Justin Schultz

Goaltender 1- Ilya Samsonov

Notable UFAs- Michael Raffl, Zdeno Chara, Craig Anderson

Notable Exempt– Connor McMichael, Alexander Alexeyev

Notable Exposed– Carl Hagelin, Garnet Hathaway, Nic Dowd, Conor Sheary, Daniel Sprong, Brenden Dillon, Nick Jensen, Michal Kempny, Vitek Vanecek

Our Pick– Vitek Vanecek (715k)

Our Pick Explanation– Seattle gets their starting goaltender with this pick, and in our opinion, the best goaltender available in expansion. In 37 games as the Capitals starter this season, Vanecek posted a 21-10-4 record with 2 shutouts and a .908 save percentage, leading the Capitals to a playoff berth where they were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the first round. He is a restricted free agent, and at twenty-five years old, has a chance to be a quality starter for the Kraken from day one. This choice also allows Seattle to reach the minimum number of goaltenders selected (3) in the expansion draft. We could see Washington protecting Vanecek and exposing Ilya Samsonov, and in that case, Samsonov would be the pick. Like Ottawa, we believe the selection from Washington will definitely be a goalie barring a pre-expansion draft trade, but we will continue to monitor the Kraken’s interest in a defenseman like Brenden Dillon perhaps.

Winnipeg Jets

Forward 1- Blake Wheeler (NMC)

Forward 2- Mark Scheifele

Forward 3- Pierre-Luc Dubois

Forward 4- Kyle Connor

Forward 5- Nikolaj Ehlers

Forward 6- Adam Lowry

Forward 7- Mason Appleton

Defenseman 1- Josh Morrissey

Defenseman 2- Neal Pionk

Defenseman 3- Logan Stanley

Goaltender 1- Connor Hellebuyck

Notable UFAs- Paul Stastny, Mathieu Perreault, Nate Thompson, Trevor Lewis, Jordie Benn, Derek Forbort

Notable Exempt– Cole Perfetti, Kristian Vesalainen, Ville Heinola

Notable Exposed– Jansen Harkins, Dominic Toninato, Dylan DeMelo, Nathan Beaulieu 

Our Pick– Dylan DeMelo (3m)

Our Pick Explanation– The last player in our mock expansion draft is Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo. DeMelo was acquired by the Jets at last year’s trade deadline in exchange for a 3rd round pick from the Ottawa Senators. This season with the Jets, DeMelo registered his first positive AB season since his rookie year in 2015-16 with a +1.34, a clear sign of improvement in our eyes. DeMelo would be someone the Jets would most likely protect under normal circumstances, however, with the emergence of recent first round pick Logan Stanley, it is logical to assume the Jets would choose to keep the younger, more upside Stanley over DeMelo. That being said, Seattle gets another solid, impact defenseman to build its inaugural team, to conclude the expansion draft.

Recap

We will now provide a positional depth chart. In addition, we will also compile a list of potential lines to see how this Kraken team we just assembled would look on the ice compared to the rest of the Pacific Division.

Centers

1C- Ryan Johansen NSH (-2.59 2020-21 AB) (-1.5 Career AB)

2C- Jared McCann PIT (+11.74 2020-21 AB) (+4.11 Career AB)

3C- Alex Kerfoot TOR (+1.4 2020-21 AB) (-2.87 Career AB)

4C- Jason Dickinson DAL (+1.34 2020-21 AB) (+3.37 Career AB)

Extra- Carter Rowney ANA (-0.76 2020-21 AB) (-1.03 Career AB)

Left Wingers

1LW- Andreas Johnsson NJD (+0.20 2020-21 AB) (+2.39 Career AB)

2LW- Warren Foegele CAR (+3.62 2020-21 AB) (+0.27 Career AB)

3LW- Kieffer Bellows NYI (+2.37 2020-21 AB) (+2.37 Career AB)

4LW- Eric Robinson CBJ (+3.77 2020-21 AB) (+4.55 Career AB)

Extra- Rasmus Asplund BUF (+2.31 2020-21 AB) (-0.55 Career AB)

Right Wingers

1RW- Vladimir Tarasenko STL (-1.64 2020-21 AB) (+6.79 Career AB)

2RW- Jakub Voracek PHI (-4.01 2020-21 AB) (+0.27 Career AB)

3RW- Tyler Pitlick ARI (-1.21 2020-21 AB) (+1.83 Career AB)

4RW- Matt Nieto SJS (-3.22 2020-21 AB) (-0.88 Career AB)

Extra- Zack MacEwen VAN (-2.07 2020-21 AB) (-1.54 Career AB)

Extra- Kevin Rooney NYR (-0.06 2020-21 AB) (+1.49 Career AB)

Defense Pairing 1

LD- Ryan Graves COL (+3.02 2020-21 AB) (+6.24 Career AB)

RD- Chris Tanev CGY (+6.81 2020-21 AB) (+2.56 Career AB)

Defense Pairing 2

LD- Carson Soucy MIN (+6.96 2020-21 AB) (+7.62 Career AB)

RD- Erik Cernak TBL (+2.45 2020-21 AB) (+6.08 Career AB)

Defense Pairing 3

LD- Olli Maatta LAK (-4.01 2020-21 AB) (+2.41 Career AB)

RD- Radko Gudas FLA (+2.62 2020-21 AB) (-1.54 Career AB)

Defense Pairing 4

LD- Riley Stillman CHI (+1.83 2020-21 AB) (+0.21 Career AB)

RD- Christian Djoos DET (-10.71 2020-21 AB) (-0.04 Career AB)

Extra

Caleb Jones EDM (-2.78 2020-21 AB) (-3.6 Career AB)

Jakub Zboril BOS (-0.68 2020-21 AB) (-0.68 Career AB)

Goaltender 1- Vitek Vanecek WSH

Goaltender 2- Jake Allen MTL

Goaltender 3- Joey Daccord OTT

Team AB 2020-21= +20.08 (2nd in Pacific Division)

Projected Team AB 2021-22 (Career AB)= +38.75 (2nd in Pacific Division)

Obviously, these protection lists and selections we just outlined will be different from the official lists teams will submit on July 17th. However, we wanted to outline that with proper management, we believe the Kraken will have immediate success out of the gate as well as a pipeline in place for the future because of the trades we illustrated. When Vegas was entering the league, our data collection was only a four year sample size. Today, we have expanded it to a fourteen year sample size, as well as data for all coaches in the sample. We believe we have a much better idea now for predicting whether Seattle will have success or not, and we can’t wait for more information to be released so that we can dissect it in our new format. Shortly after the publishing of this article, we are going to go back in time to see if we could have seen Vegas’ rise coming with the data, we now have prior to the 2017-18. We have so much more to come, so please stay tuned and keep reading!

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