Seattle Mock Expansion Draft 1.0: Who Cracks The Kraken Roster?

This projected Kraken lineup features feisty forecheckers, expiring contracts and, of course, some Washington homecomings.
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Part 1 of this 2021 mock expansion draft looked at the Vegas Golden Knights’ 2017 selections as a possible template for the Seattle Kraken to follow in 2021. You can read it here.

To summarize: if GM Ron Francis wants to borrow from what George McPhee did for the Golden Knights in 2017, Francis will (a) target plenty of 2022 UFAs who can be flipped as rentals; (b) avoid signing many if any 2021 UFAs, and (c) seek trades for bad contracts in exchange for draft and/or prospect capital.

Armed with those ideas, I present to you my first crack at a 2021 Seattle Kraken expansion mock draft.

First off, a refresher of some key expansion draft rules, which are identical to what they were for the 2017 draft, as explained by the NHL:

The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft will be under the same rules for Seattle as the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017. Seattle will select one player from each team excluding the Golden Knights for a total of 30 (min. 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies) not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules.

Seattle must choose a minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 regular season and those with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100 percent of the prior season's upper limit for the salary cap. Seattle cannot buy out players chosen in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.

Current NHL teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie, under the following conditions.

* All players with no movement clauses at the time of the draft, and who decline to waive those clauses, must be protected and will be counted toward their team's applicable protection limits.

* All first- and second-year NHL players, and all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward protection limits.

In addition, all NHL teams must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the draft (games likely pro-rated for a shortened season):

* One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

* Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

* One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team's protected list.

* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a team's player exposure requirements unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection.

Following those rules, I used the fun and user-friendly Seattle expansion draft tool offered by capfriendly.com. Before picking players, I reviewed the 30 franchises from which Seattle can pick players, and I manually projected the protection schemes for each. I then put my Ron Francis hat on and proceeded through the draft picks.

Here we go.

ANAHEIM DUCKS: Kevin Shattenkirk, D

Cap hit: $3,900,000
Contract: UFA, 2023

He’s on the wrong side of 30, so the rebuilding Ducks shouldn’t feel overly attached to him a year from now even after signing him this past off-season. He’ll be the Kraken’s primary puck-moving option on defense.

ARIZONA COYOTES: Tyler Pitlick, RW

Cap hit: $1,750,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

An expansion team isn’t going to catch up to the field in the skill department in season 1, so it makes sense to load up on high-energy, lunch-pail types who can forecheck.

BOSTON BRUINS: Ondrej Kase, RW

Cap hit: $2,600,000
Contract: RFA, 2021

The analytics have suggested for years that a surge in goal-scoring looms for Kase. Maybe a fresh opportunity helps him finally blossom – assuming his brain health co-operates.

BUFFALO SABRES: Colin Miller, D

Cap hit: $3,875,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

He flourished in a sheltered role with Vegas during its first two seasons. Buffalo has not been a fit. The Kraken can revive his career: maybe third-pair duty and secondary power-play work. Here's another expiring contract that can be flipped, too.

CALGARY FLAMES: Sam Bennett, LW

Cap hit: $2,550,000
Contract: RFA, 2021

Flames Twitter rose up passionately slamming my projection of Andrew Mangiapane being exposed. Since so many of you shared that opinion, I can't ignore it. I take it as a sign that I was wrong. So I'll project Mangiapane being kept – while Bennett gets a badly needed change of scenery.

CAROLINA HURRICANES: Vincent Trocheck, C

Cap hit: $4,750,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

Trocheck gets a chance to rediscover his formerly prolific scoring touch as Seattle’s first-line center. He also makes a fine rental piece to dangle at the 2022 deadline.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: Connor Murphy, D

Cap hit: $3,850,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

Brings size, strength and stay-at-home tools such as hitting and shot-blocking ability. Another pending UFA. You can see the pattern here, right?

COLORADO AVALANCHE: Tyson Jost, C

Cap hit: $874,125
Contract: RFA, 2021

Can Seattle find its William Karlsson? A former prospect who hasn’t unlocked his potential? Maybe that’s Jost, who went 10th overall in the 2016 draft but has struggled to ascend a loaded depth chart in Denver.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: Gabriel Carlsson, D

Cap hit: $725,000
Contract: RFA, 2022

Some of Seattle’s picks have to be cheap contracts to ensure cap compliance. You could do a lot worse than Carlsson, who carries a first-round pedigree. Keep in mind not all 30 picks will make Seattle’s opening-night roster.

DALLAS STARS: Anton Khudobin, G

Cap hit: $3,333,333
Contract: UFA, 2023

The goaltender position has never been more physically demanding. It’s en vogue to have two highly capable netminders who can play 30 to 50 games. Trustworthy Khudobin will be Seattle’s 1B.

DETROIT RED WINGS: Troy Stecher, D

Cap hit: $1,700,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

The B.C. boy can move the puck, even if he doesn’t have the highest ceiling. Expiring deal.

EDMONTON OILERS: Zack Kassian, RW

Cap hit: $3,200,000
Contract: UFA, 2024

Since I project the Oilers to protect four defensemen, they may leave a quality forward dangling. Kassian would become a fan favorite quickly in Seattle.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: Radko Gudas, D

Cap hit: $2,500,000
Contract: UFA, 2023

A nasty competitor who can kill penalties. The Kraken won’t be easy to play against.

LOS ANGELES KINGS: Martin Frk, RW

Cap hit: $725,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

This guy shoots the puck like no one else on the planet. We’re talking Zdeno Chara / Shea Weber tier. Actually, above that. Frk owns the hardest shot ever recorded at 109.2 mph. I just want a team to give him an extended chance, so maybe this is wishful thinking.

MINNESOTA WILD: Carson Soucy, D

Cap hit: $2,750,00
Contract: UFA, 2023

The Wild have such a deep D-corps that they can protect four defensemen and still leave a quality option for Seattle to pick. Late-bloomer Soucy could be a key member of the Kraken blueline.

MONTREAL CANADIENS: Artturi Lehkonen, LW

Cap hit: $2,400,000
Contract: RFA, 2021

He’s been a solid soldier in the Habs’ middle six, but he gets nudged out of the protected list thanks to the Habs’ 2020 additions on the wings.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS: Calle Jarnkrok, LW

Cap hit: $2,000,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

Has played all over Nashville’s lineup at center and the wing. A versatile piece and an annual lock for a double-digit goal total.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Miles Wood, LW

Cap hit: $2,750,000
Contract: RFA, 2022

The Devils have several forwards in Wood’s tier who sit on the bubble of protected or exposed. I’m predicting the Andreas Johnsson trade nudges Wood down the depth chart. He’ll bring speed and good size to the Kraken.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Nick Leddy, D

Cap hit: $5,500,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

Worth the spend to give Seattle a minute-muncher. He’s not a top-pair guy in real life anymore, but he can fill that role on an expansion squad. Also, he’ll only be 30 on expansion-draft day. Feels like he’s been around forever.

NEW YORK RANGERS: Brendan Lemieux, LW

Cap hit: $1,550,000
Contract: RFA, 2022

Seattle sports fans are sneaky-ferocious. They’ll want a team that can handle the rough stuff, and Lemieux’s energy and scrappiness fit the team identity I’m building.

OTTAWA SENATORS: Chris Tierney, C

Cap hit: $3,500,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

My projected exposed options at center are so-so league wide. Tierney is thus a crucial addition as a rock-solid middle-six pivot to keep the lineup respectable. 

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: Shayne Gostisbehere, D

Cap hit: $4,500,000
Contract: UFA, 2023

Gostisbehere has fallen way out of favor in Philly. He’s still young enough and talented enough to bounce back on a team needing power-play help. The Flyers may need to eat some salary or sweeten the pot with a side deal to convince Francis to pick 'Ghost Bear' instead of a more valuable piece like Scott Laughton.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Zach Aston-Reese, LW

Cap hit: $1,000,000
Contract: RFA, 2021

One of the most underrated defensive forwards in the game.

SAN JOSE SHARKS: Dylan Gambrell, C

Cap hit: $700,000
Contract: RFA, 2021

Gambrell needs to play 20 games this season to qualify. But we need some Washington state blood on this Kraken team, and Gambrell hasn’t run out of potential yet after showing a lot of promise in college and the AHL.

ST. LOUIS BLUES: Ville Husso, G

Cap hit: $700,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

The Blues will protect Jordan Binnington barring a crazy nightmare 2020-21 season, exposing Husso, a cheap No. 3 netminder with upside for Seattle.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: Tyler Johnson, C

Cap hit: $5,000,000
Contract: UFA, 2024

You knew this was coming. Yes, he’s expensive, but he’s one of the two most prominent Washington-born players I expect to be exposed. He can still score a decent amount in a top-six role. And maybe he nets Seattle a nice side deal, as we know how desperate the Bolts have been to unload Johnson.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Justin Holl, D

Cap hit: $2,000,000
Contract: UFA, 2023

An obscure name overshadowed by stars in Toronto, but he’s quite reliable in his own end. Would make a nice, steady third-pair option.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Braden Holtby, G

Cap hit: $4,300,000
Contract: UFA, 2022

Holtby steps in as the Kraken’s starter. He’s still young enough to establish himself as a medium-term option the way Marc-Andre Fleury did in Vegas – but Holtby also has an expiring deal in 2022, making him good rental-trade fodder.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS: T.J. Oshie, RW

Cap hit: $5,750,000
Contract: UFA, 2025

The biggest no-brainer pick of the draft? Still skilled, extremely personable and having grown up just north of Seattle, Oshie is an obvious choice for the Kraken’s first captain, assuming they choose a captain in Year 1.

WINNIPEG JETS: Sami Niku, D

Cap hit: $725,000
Contract: RFA, 2022

Great wheels and feels like an intriguing reclamation project – if he plays enough games in 2020-21 to qualify for exposure.

TEAM AT A GLANCE

Forwards (16)

Zach Aston-Reese
Sam Bennett
Martin Frk
Dylan Gambrell
Calle Jarnkrok
Tyler Johnson
Tyson Jost
Ondrej Kase
Zack Kassian
Artturi Lehkonen
Brendan Lemieux
T.J. Oshie
Tyler Pitlick
Chris Tierney
Vincent Trocheck
Miles Wood

Defensemen (11)

Gabriel Carlsson
Shayne Gostisbehere
Radko Gudas
Justin Holl
Nick Leddy
Colin Miller
Connor Murphy
Sami Niku
Kevin Shattenkirk
Carson Soucy
Troy Stecher

Goaltenders (3)

Braden Holtby
Anton Khudobin
Ville Husso

Total cap spending: $81.5 million

POTENTIAL TRADE ACQUISITIONS ON EXPANSION-DRAFT DAY

Milan Lucic, Flames:
Lucic, a Vancouver native, waives his no-movement clause to go closer to home. The Flames retain some of his $6-million AAV and kick in a draft pick and/or a prospect.

P.K. Subban, Devils: If the Kraken want to market a fan-friendly roster, Subban makes for a splashy addition to the blueline. The Devils swallow 50 percent of his salary, meaning he costs Seattle $4.5 million. He’s a pending UFA during the 2021-22 season, so he can become a key rental trading chip with a career renaissance. 

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