Building the Kraken: Lists Are In

Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA Today Sports

Well, after watching my two previous posts about the Expansion Draft get blown up in a single weekend, I can safely relax in making this article. The protection lists are in, the rosters are frozen, and we now know who has a chance of making the venture to the Pacific Northwest.

As was expected, there are some big names that were exposed by their teams for the Seattle Kraken to take, but they’re are a couple that I don’t think anyone was expecting to see even a month ago. With the talent that the Kraken have the opportunity to take, as well as having the number 2 overall pick in the draft, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Kraken in the playoffs in their first year. Thank you, flat cap.

For this article, I will still put the protected players up (if you want to see them and the players exposed to Seattle, go here.) Then, I will put up my choice for who the Kraken should take, as well as one alternate route that could be taken for each team.

Release the Kraken…expansion picks.

Anaheim Ducks

Protected: (F): Nicolas Deslauriers, Max Jones, Isac Lundestrom, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Sam Steel, Troy Terry (D): Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson (G): John Gibson

Selection: D Haydn Fleury

Alternate: D Josh Mahura

The Ducks confused me a bit with their logic. Was protecting Deslauriers, a disappointing prospect in Jones, and Silfverberg coming off an injury-riddled season worth exposing another young defenseman? The answer might be no, as Fleury’s exposure likely guarantees he’ll be picked up. The first-ever draft pick of Ron Francis in his days as GM for the Carolina Hurricanes, Fleury will likely get a spot in Seattle’s third pairing and see some penalty-killing time. If Francis wants to go off the beaten path, however, Mahura would still be a strong choice, and Alexander Volkov did well enough in his stint with Anaheim to warrant mentioning.

Arizona Coyotes

Protected: (F): Lawson Crouse, Christian Dvorak, Conor Garland, Clayton Keller, Phil Kessel, Johan Larsson, Nick Schmaltz (D): Kyle Capobianco, Jakob Chychrun, Oliver Ekman-Larsson (G): Darcy Kuemper

Selection: F Michael Bunting (Seattle signs him to a two-year deal worth $1.25 million AAV)

Alternate: F Tyler Pitlick

I’m a little surprised Arizona is taking this approach with Bunting, indicating that there’s either a handshake agreement in place or he’s headed onto the open market. Despite playing half the season, Bunting managed to score 10 goals in the 21 games he played (that’s good enough to tie him for sixth amongst all Coyotes). Seattle would love to have Bunting on their team, and his limited NHL experience suggests that he will come at a cheaper rate. If the Coyotes do have a contract in place with him, however, the production of Pitlick would outweigh the upside of Christian Fischer.

Boston Bruins

Protected: (F): Patrice Bergeron, Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Trent Frederic, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Craig Smith (D): Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy (G): Daniel Vladar

Selection: D Jeremy Lauzon

Alternate: F Nick Ritchie

There is a bit of interesting young talent from the Bruins, but Lauzon stands out. In his first extended stay at the NHL level, Lauzon carved out a role as a reliable stay-at-home defenseman with a bit of offensive touch, including averaging 19 minutes during the playoffs on a Bruins roster loaded with veterans. His versatility, ability to kill penalties, and general upside will all be appealing to the Kraken. There are a couple of other interesting defensemen like Connor Clifton and Jakub Zboril who could get picked up, but Ritchie is coming off a season where he scored a career-high fifteen goals, not to mention he would bring an element of physicality to the Kraken lineup.

Buffalo Sabres

Protected: (F): Rasmus Asplund, Anders Bjork, Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt, Victor Olofsson, Sam Reinhart, Tage Thompson (D): Rasmus Dahlin, Henri Jokiharju, Rasmus Ristolainen (G): Linus Ullmark

Selection: D Colin Miller (Seattle also receives Buffalo’s 2021 4th Round Pick)

Alternate: D Will Borgen

Jeff Skinner waiving his no-move clause removed much of the intrigue surrounding Buffalo’s choices. It really comes down to two choices at this point: right-handed defensemen Miller or Borgen. Borgen does come with a little more upside, but Miller gets the nod if Buffalo is willing to throw in a mid-round pick as a sweetener. Miller would be one of the first names to be brought up in trades for cap compliance but, if he stays, he can be a locker room leader for his fellow selections, and he’s shown he can be an asset in a sheltered role.

Calgary Flames

Protected: (F): Mikael Backlund, Dillon Dube, Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk (D): Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, Christopher Tanev (G): Jakob Markstrom

Selection: D Mark Giordano (Seattle also receives Florida’s 2022 2nd Round pick)

Alternate: F Glenn Gawdin

Giordano will likely be given the Marc-Andre Fleury treatment in the expansion draft: a franchise legend on an expiring contract that no longer fits with the team’s current course. An extra pick gets thrown in as goodwill by the Flames, as well as security for Seattle if Giordano is a one-year proposition. The other options include Gawdin and young defenseman Oliver Kylington, but neither player has done nearly enough to justify drafting them over Giordano.

Carolina Hurricanes

Protected: (F): Sebastian Aho, Jesper Fast, Warren Foegele, Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen, Vincent Trocheck (D): Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Jaccob Slavin (G): Alex Nedeljkovic

Selection: D Jake Bean

Alternate: F Morgan Geekie + future asset

Another Francis first-round pick rejoins him in Seattle. Bean’s first extended NHL season saw him start out strong, but cool off significantly towards the end of the season. While there is a chance Bean is protected with a draft pick, especially with the offensive production of Dougie Hamilton likely needing to be replaced, it’s more likely Carolina decides to continue building its farm system and allows Bean to go west. He may need a little more time in the AHL (he won the Calder Cup with Charlotte in 2018-19 and won the Eddie Shore award for best defenseman in 2019-20), but he will be the first name to get called if trouble arises.

Chicago Blackhawks

Protected: (F): Henrik Borgstrom, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Hagel, David Kampf, Patrick Kane, Dylan Strome, Jonathan Toews (D): Caleb Jones, Connor Murphy, Riley Stillman (G): Kevin Lankinen

Selection: F Adam Gaudette

Alternate: D Nikita Zadorov

Gaudette’s exposure was one of the more surprising reveals of the day, as the Blackhawks acquired him at the Trade Deadline from Vancouver in a minor deal. He responded well to the change in scenery, putting up four points in seven games for Chicago, but it must not have been enough to warrant a protection spot. It’s likely Gaudette is headed back to the Pacific Northwest to join what should be a talented group of centers for the Kraken. If defense is still being sought after, the Kraken could go with Calvin de Haan, but Zadorov’s physicality, versatility, and likely lower cap value get him the nod.

Colorado Avalanche

Protected: (F): Andre Burakovsky, Tyson Jost, Nazem Kadri, Nathan MacKinnon, Valeri Nichushkin, Logan O’Connor, Mikko Rantanen (D): Samuel Girard, Cale Makar, Devon Toews (G): Philipp Grubauer

Selection: F J.T. Compher

Alternate: F Joonas Donskoi

While I applaud Colorado for using a protection on underrated fourth-liner O’Connor, I’m surprised Compher and Donskoi got left out in favor of Kadri, a player I would expect to be on the trade market. Regardless, both players would be solid choices for the Kraken. It would all depend on what Seattle is in the market for. If they want a right wing who can score goals and drive the offense, Donskoi will be the pick; if they are looking more for versatility, two-way play, and penalty-killing ability, Compher is the choice. It’s hard to imagine the Kraken make a wrong choice here.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Protected: (F): Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Boone Jenner, Patrik Laine, Gustav Nyquist, Eric Robinson, Jack Roslovic (D): Vladislav Gavrikov, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski (G): Joonas Korpisalo

Selection: F Max Domi (Seattle also receives Columbus’s 2022 2nd Round pick)

Alternate: D Gabriel Carlsson

Similar to Giordano, Columbus throws in a second round pick for Domi to not only have Seattle take him, but give them some much-needed security. Domi’s first season in Columbus was the worst of his career, and Seattle would be his third team in four seasons. It would be interesting what Seattle does with Domi, and there’s a chance that a bounce-back campaign is used for the Kraken to flip him for more assets. If Seattle can’t justify Domi’s price tag, both Kevin Stenlund and Dean Kukan can fill in roles, but Carlsson comes with a defensive-minded skillset that some of my picks on defense don’t really have.

Dallas Stars

Protected: (F): Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Denis Gurianov, Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski, Alexander Radulov, Tyler Segin (D): Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell (G): Anton Khudobin

Selection: F Adam Mascherin

Alternate: G Ben Bishop

Trading away Jason Dickinson to Vancouver and having the injury-prone Bishop waive his no-movement clause leaves Dallas with one of the least intriguing groups to choose from. There is some upside with Mascherin, who paced Dallas’ AHL affiliate with 18 goals and finished second in points with 34. He’s yet to play an NHL game but, with arguably his best professional season to date, he’s on an upwards trajectory that should intrigue Seattle. Seattle could do a lot worse than Bishop to start out in net, but it’s safe to say he contains a massive health risk; a backup plan is imperative if the Kraken want to make that arrangement work.

Detroit Red Wings

Protected: (F): Tyler Bertuzzi, Adam Erne, Robby Fabbri, Dylan Larkin, Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith, Jakub Vrana (D): Filip Hronek, Nick Leddy, Gustav Lindstrom (G): Thomas Greiss

Selection: D Dennis Cholowski

Alternate: F Evgeny Svechnikov

I’m not quite sure what happened year, but something about this season caused the Red Wings to completely sour on Cholowski. Someone who seemed like a safe bet to be protected, Cholowski saw his place apparently get taken over by trade acquisition Nick Leddy. While Cholowski will never be known for his defense, his offensive skillset can be developed nicely, with the possibility of becoming a power-play quarterback for the Kraken. If Ron Francis sees the same things in Cholowski that the Red Wings saw, however, they can choose to stay the course and grab Svechnikov for forward depth.

Edmonton Oilers

Protected: (F): Josh Archibald, Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian, Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto (D): Ethan Bear, Duncan Keith, Darnell Nurse (G): Stuart Skinner

Selection: F Tyler Benson (Seattle also receives D Oscar Klefbom)

Alternate: F Dominik Kahun

Kassian and Archibald were slight surprises to see get protected, especially with a talented prospect like Benson now in danger of being picked up by the Kraken. Being 23 with only seven career NHL games to his credit is a mild concern, but what Benson does have is 138 points in 151 AHL games, including leading the Bakersfield Condors to the Pacific Division title this season. Edmonton’s exposure of him indicates they don’t value him as much, so he’d be a great pickup. The Oilers could try to package him with Klefbom to try and get out of his deal in case the defenseman doesn’t reach the same level of production that he used to, but he can be put on LTIR for cap relief by the Kraken with the chance that he could come back to play out the final year of his contract. If none of that sounds appealing, Kahun is carving out a decent reputation for himself as a reliable bottom-six center in the NHL.

Florida Panthers

Protected: (F): Aleksander Barkov, Sam Bennett, Anthony Duclair, Patric Hornqvist, Jonathan Huberdeau, Mason Marchment, Carter Verhaeghe (D): Aaron Ekblad, Gustav Forsling, MacKenzie Weegar (G): Sergei Bobrovsky

Selection: G Chris Driedger (Seattle signs Driedger to a three-year deal worth $3.5 million AAV)

Alternate: D Radko Gudas

This is quite possibly the only pick I feel safe in saying that it’s going to happen. With reputable insiders like Pierre LeBrun mentioning that the Kraken have already circled Driedger’s name for selection, it’s hard to see the Kraken suddenly change course. Driedger has proven to be more than just a good underdog story; he’s emerged as one of the more reliable backups and spot starters in the NHL. There may be potential for more, but…well, more on that later. If a deal for Driedger falls through, Gudas is a solid choice for a veteran blueliner that values physicality and penalty-killing.

Los Angeles Kings

Protected: (F): Lias Andersson, Viktor Arvidsson, Dustin Brown, Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe, Anze Kopitar, Trevor Moore (D): Drew Doughty, Matt Roy, Sean Walker (G): Cal Petersen

Selection: F Carl Grundstrom

Alternate: D Kale Clague

It was a bit surprising to see Andersson get protected, and I do have some minor disagreements about Brown and Walker, but that’s besides the point. Grundstrom’s another selection who got his first extended stay in the NHL this season, managing to score six goals and 11 points despite averaging only twelve and a half minutes of ice time per game. There’s some potential here, so Ron Francis would be smart to jump at the chance to grab him. If the Kraken want more defense with this pick, Clague split time between the NHL and AHL, doing well in both leagues.

Minnesota Wild

Protected: (F): Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala, Marcus Foligno, Jordan Greenway, Ryan Hartman, Nico Sturm, Mats Zuccarello (D): Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgeon (G): Cam Talbot

Selection: G Kaapo Kahkonen

Alternate: D Carson Soucy + future asset

While the future implications of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s buyouts, as well as Kirill Kaprizov’s potential mega-extension, could prove costly, they at least made the Wild’s expansion draft strategy easier. At least it did, and then they just had to expose Kahkonen. Making the leap to the NHL after nabbing the award for the AHL’s best goaltender in 2018-19, Kahkonen had an up-and-down rookie season as Cam Talbot’s understudy. That said, he’s easily the option with the most upside, and it would surprise me to see him not be at least considered by the Kraken. If the Wild want to keep Kahkonen, they could throw in a mid-round pick or a B+ prospect along with Soucy, a defenseman who has shown strong two-way potential in limited minutes for Minnesota.

Montreal Canadiens

Protected: (F): Josh Anderson, Joel Armia, Jake Evans, Brendan Gallagher, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Artturi Lehkonen, Tyler Toffoli (D): Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, Jeff Petry (G): Jake Allen

Selection: G Carey Price

Alternate: F Jonathan Drouin + future assets

Wow. The Kraken already had a leg up on the Golden Knights in terms of draft picks, and now they start out with a legitimate top-5 goaltender. Price’s potential hip issues might be concerning, but it must not concern ownership too much, given that they gave Francis the green light to select him. Price does come from the British Columbia region as well, making him the ideal choice for a homegrown face of the franchise. The production he provides, including a magical run to the Stanley Cup Final this past season, makes the contract worth it. If the Kraken have legitimate concerns, however, they could come up with a deal that sees Drouin get picked up for the change of scenery he needs. Prospects and picks would definitely come to Seattle with Drouin (an ideal choice would be a right-handed defenseman like Cale Fleury or Josh Brook, but Francis would be wise to see what he can get Montreal counterpart Marc Bergevin to protect Price with.)

Nashville Predators

Protected: (F): Filip Forsberg, Tanner Jeannot, Luke Kunin (D): Alexandre Carrier, Mattias Ekholm, Dante Fabbro, Roman Josi, Philippe Myers (G): Juuse Saros

Selection: F Ryan Johansen (Seattle also receives Los Angeles’s 2021 2nd Round Pick, Nashville’s 2021 4th Round Pick, and G Connor Ingram)

Alternate: F Calle Jarnkrok

Nashville should be coming into the Expansion Draft with one purpose: get one of their big contracts off the books. One of Johansen or Matt Duchene has to head to Seattle for the Predators to come out strong and, with one less year on his deal and two years younger, Johansen comes off as the better asset. While he will likely never reach the dizzying heights of 2013-15 when he scored 59 goals in two seasons, Johansen is coming off a solid postseason and is better than his last two down years would indicate. For security purposes, however, Seattle should push Nashville for a few extra pieces. Ingram is a young goaltender with no clear role in the organization, and Nashville has extra picks in the rounds Seattle would be claiming from them. If Nashville doesn’t want to give up a few extra pieces, Seattle shouldn’t feel obligated to take salary; they could just take solid and versatile middle-six forward Jarnkrok and leave Nashville to foot the bill on Johansen.

New Jersey Devils

Protected: (F): Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, Janne Kuokkanen, Michael McLeod, Yegor Sharangovich, Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha (D): Ryan Graves, Damon Severson, Jonas Siegenthaler (G): Mackenzie Blackwood

Selection: F Andreas Johnsson (Seattle also receives New Jersey’s 2022 3rd Round pick)

Alternate: D Will Butcher + future asset

New Jersey would have loved to get the final year of P.K. Subban’s deal off of their books, but that feels like a pipe dream now. The Kraken will likely get their choice of two players: a wing in Johnsson or a left-handed defenseman in Butcher. Both were seen as emerging young stars at one point, but their times in New Jersey haven’t gone as planned. There’s a reason to be attracted to both, but the edge goes to Johnsson, who scored 20 goals in 2018-19 and could reach similar numbers with a legitimate playmaker at center to feed him the puck. Either way, both player’s struggles and salaries would likely warrant a mid-round pick to convince Seattle, but neither player’s contract is particularly unmanageable.

New York Islanders

Protected: (F): Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, Anders Lee, Matt Martin, Brock Nelson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (D): Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock (G): Semyon Varlamov

Selection: F Kieffer Bellows

Alternate: F Josh Bailey + future assets

The Islanders must really like their fourth line, as proven by the decision to protect Clutterbuck and Martin over Bailey and Jordan Eberle. Despite two proven wings being on the board, I would think Seattle goes young here and drafts Bellows. He hasn’t quite gotten the trust of the Islanders’ coaching staff yet, but the Kraken could use a player with his size and skill on the roster. He’d be a true power forward type for Seattle to develop. If the Kraken were to prefer experience, it’s likely the Islanders will prefer they take Bailey, who would at least be good for double-digit goals and special teams minutes. A pick and a prospect would be enough to make the deal work (could the Kraken pounce on Bode Wilde, a solid prospect coming off his second inconsistent stint in the AHL?)

New York Rangers

Protected: (F): Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil, Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Kevin Rooney, Ryan Strome (D): Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren, Jacob Trouba (G): Alexandar Georgiev

Selection: F Julien Gauthier

Alternate: F Colin Blackwell

The Rangers trading Brett Howden to Vegas should have made the decision easier, but their decision to protect Rooney changes things a bit. That said, Gauthier is another former first-round pick of Ron Francis, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see his former GM complete the trifecta. Gauthier did alright in his first extended look in the NHL, but the real prize is his AHL production, where he scored 69 goals and 103 points in 184 AHL games. There’s serious potential here, and Francis should know how it can be maximized. The late-blooming Blackwell was a surprise to see exposed, especially coming off his best professional season. Call it an 80/20 split favoring Gauthier right now.

Ottawa Senators

Protected: (F): Drake Batherson, Connor Brown, Logan Brown, Nick Paul, Brady Tkachuk, Austin Watson (D): Thomas Chabot, Victor Mete, Nikita Zaitsev (G): Filip Gustavsson

Selection: F Chris Tierney (Seattle also receives Ottawa’s 2022 4th Round Pick)

Alternate: G Joey Daccord

Ottawa comes with a couple of contractual landmines (hi, Evgenii Dadonov and Matt Murray), but there’s actually some decent talent that can be taken here. Tierney stands out as the most NHL-caliber pick right now, despite coming off his worst season as a pro. Tierney has earned a reputation as a double-digit goal scorer, penalty killer, and faceoff specialist, with all three being good qualities for a center to have. It’s possible Tierney can be flipped for cap relief, but his expiring contract and prior history should make it a nice sell. Daccord had a rough season this year, but the former Arizona State product is worth a flier as a developmental goaltender. Keep an eye on Vitaly Abramov as well, as the talented wing will have two seasons to develop in Russia before potentially coming back to the NHL.

Philadelphia Flyers

Protected: (F): Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom (D): Ryan Ellis, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim (G): Carter Hart

Selection: F Jakub Voracek (Seattle also receives Philadelphia’s 2021 1st Round Pick and F Connor McClennon)

Alternate: D Robert Hagg (part of a three-way trade with St. Louis)

Rumors are swirling about Vladimir Tarasenko joining recent trade acquisition Ellis in Philadelphia, and that they could use the Kraken as a middleman for the deal. Hagg would be selected from the Flyers in that event, but I can’t help but think Seattle can look for a bigger impact between the two teams. Voracek’s massive contract would make it tough for the Flyers to sell him without a pick in the first two rounds. A less impactful draft class might make it easier for the Flyers to hand their first-rounder this year to the Kraken, allowing them to use next year’s to dangle for Tarasenko. A prospect forward in McClennon also returns to Western North America, as his game likely is more in line with the Kraken than the typical grind-it-out style of the Flyers.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Protected: (F): Teddy Blueger, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Kasperi Kapanen, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust (D): Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Mike Matheson (G): Tristan Jarry

Selection: D Mark Friedman

Alternate: F Jason Zucker + future assets

The Penguins will have a few contracts they wouldn’t mind seeing Seattle go after (Zucker, Brandon Tanev, Marcus Pettersson). However, an interesting sleeper pick that I wouldn’t mind seeing Seattle go after is Friedman. After being claimed from Philadelphia by the GM that drafted him in Ron Hextall, Friedman responded by scoring twice and recording a +3 in only five games. A rare hot stretch, or a player who responded well to a change in scenery? With Friedman having a very friendly contract, it’s not too much of a risk to find out. Zucker could also certainly use a change, as the former consistent 20+-goal scorer had a rough first full season in Pittsburgh. With no attachments to Zucker, Hextall could dangle him to Seattle, but they will have to use a prospect to compensate for their lack of draft capital (a mid-tier prospect like Valtteri Puustinen could work).

San Jose Sharks

Protected: (F): Rudolfs Balcers, Logan Couture, Jonathan Dahlen, Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane, Kevin LaBanc, Timo Meier (D): Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic (G): Adin Hill

Selection: F Dylan Gambrell

Alternate: F Ryan Donato

There’s a few options the Kraken can pick up from the Sharks, but let’s go for a sentimental choice and bring a home-state kid along. A native of hour-away Bonney Lake, Gambrell has shown promise by tearing up the NCAA and AHL ranks. He hasn’t quite put it together at the NHL level yet, but it’s still too early to give up on him. Donato is in the same boat, as he had a good year in Minnesota in 2019-20 before taking a step back on an inferior San Jose team. Either player brings value to the Kraken, so they do have that.

St. Louis Blues

Protected: (F): Ivan Barbashev, Jordan Kyrou, Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Brayden Schenn, Oskar Sundqvist, Robert Thomas (D): Justin Faulk, Torey Krug, Colton Parayko (G): Jordan Binnington

Selection: D Vince Dunn

Alternate: F Vladimir Tarasenko (three-way trade with Philadelphia)

Should the deal between Philly, Seattle, and St. Louis come to pass, Seattle would take Tarasenko (possibly with an extra asset or two to make up for the move), before passing him off to Philly for Voracek. However, with Voracek drafted anyway in this scenario, there’s no need for that deal. Besides, why do that when we get both Voracek and a good young defenseman in Dunn? Already emerging as a talented offensive-minded rearguard, Dunn could be Seattle’s answer to Shea Theodore. Giving him minutes with a more sound defensive partner, as well as power play time, should help put him on the road to success. It’s a much more appealing option than whatever St. Louis and/or Philadelphia would likely be providing.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Protected: (F): Anthony Cirelli, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos (D): Erik Cernak, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev (G): Andrei Vasilevskiy

Selection: F Tyler Johnson (Seattle also receives F Mathieu Joseph, D Nick Perbix, and Tampa Bay’s 2023 1st Round Pick)

Alternate: F Yanni Gourde + future assets

If there was ever a hometown favorite that can be used for a pick, this is it. A native of Spokane, Johnson was putting up a good reputation as a 20-goal scoring threat before seeing his numbers drop. Even in limited time, he still did alright for himself, playing a role in the Lightning repeating as champions. However, with the Lightning facing a cap crunch, Johnson becomes the immediate favorite to move. Coming with him is an extra first-round pick and a couple intriguing young players. Joseph would be a good fit for the Kraken both on and off the ice, while Perbix is coming off his best college season yet as a junior at St. Cloud State. Gourde likely would not garner such a package, but an extra asset or two would be good enough incentive to take one of the league’s better penalty killers.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Protected: (F): Mitchell Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares (D): TJ Brodie, Justin Holl, Jake Muzzin, Morgan Rielly (G): Jack Campbell

Selection: F Jared McCann

Alternate: F Alexander Kerfoot + future assets

One of the stranger decision with these lists came when McCann was exposed, despite the Leafs picking him up from Pittsburgh on Saturday. A player that was likely already on the radar for Seattle, McCann has put together two straight 14-goal campaigns in Pittsburgh. On a team like Seattle, players emerging as proven goal-scorers will likely be favored. However, Toronto might stop it by dangling a couple pieces over in exchange for the Kraken taking Kerfoot, who was shaping up to be the Kraken’s original pick for McCann entered the equation. To avoid McCann getting picked up by Seattle, however, Toronto will have to come up with an interesting package (Nick Robertson or Rasmus Sandin don’t have to be put up, but could someone like Tim Liljegren be a start?)

Vancouver Canucks

Protected: (F): Brock Boeser, Jason Dickinson, Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller, Tyler Motte, Tanner Pearson, Elias Pettersson (D): Olli Juolevi, Tyler Myers, Nate Schmidt (G): Thatcher Demko

Selection: F Kole Lind

Alternate: F Jonah Gadjovich

There are plenty of terrible contracts the Canucks would love their new rival to claim (Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Braden Holtby, etc.). However, with young talent already up for exposure, it’s going to take a lot for the Canucks to convince Seattle to take a mistake off of their hands. Lind and Gadjovich both have intriguing upside attached to them. Lind parlayed a strong start in the AHL to a seven-game stint with the Canucks. Gadjovich, meanwhile, stayed in the AHL and doubled the second-highest goal scorer for the Utica Comets. With both establishing themselves as emerging NHL-caliber wings, Seattle has a choice with no wrong answer in front of them.

Washington Capitals

Protected: (F): Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Anthony Mantha, T.J. Oshie, Daniel Sprong, Tom Wilson (D): John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Trevor van Riemsdyk (G): Ilya Samsonov

Selection: D Justin Schultz (Seattle also receives Washington’s 2022 1st Round pick)

Alternate: G Vitek Vanecek

Vanecek’s emergence as a viable NHL goaltender may have come at the wrong time, as the Capitals were forced to expose either him or Samsonov. While Vanecek is exposed, I doubt the Capitals will be interested in losing him for nothing. Protecting van Riemsdyk tells me that the Capitals would prefer to lose one of their more pricey defensemen: Schultz or Brenden Dillon. While Dillon does come from the Pacific Northwest region, Schultz’s larger cap hit and ability to play on the right side will likely make him the ideal choice for both sides. A first-round pick or a second and a prospect (Martin Fehervary or Aliaksei Protas stand out as reasonable options).

Winnipeg Jets

Protected: (F): Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Nikolaj Ehlers, Adam Lowry, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler (D): Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk, Logan Stanley (G): Connor Hellebuyck

Selection: F Mason Appleton

Alternate: D Dylan DeMelo

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Jets protect Stanley, as I thought he did well enough in his rookie year to warrant that. It’s also easier to do when there’s a more favorable target. While Appleton has had his minutes limited due to Winnipeg’s impressive center depth, he has found a home on the right wing and has produced on both ends of the ice. A middle-six forward that can play center, as well as see some penalty kill time, is an option worth taking. DeMelo does warrant merit, however, as a right-handed defenseman who has shown the ability to pair well with any defenseman opposite of him.


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