For the last three months, the Sound Of Hockey team has been poring over NHL rosters, sizing up prospects, sharing our best estimates on the Expansion Draft protected lists, and identifying potential Seattle Kraken players to monitor. Now looking ahead to the next few weeks, each of us at Sound Of Hockey will be taking a stab at a Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. These days, mock Expansion Draft articles are a dime a dozen, and most are fraught with poor assumptions and non-compliance to the expansion rules. We hope to avoid that with a few guiding principles.
Rules of the Sound Of Hockey Mock Expansion Draft
- Protection lists are based on latest updates on Sound Of Hockey (Central, East, West, North).
- Selections must follow the NHL Expansion Draft Rules.
- You are allowed one UFA-and-sign selection. Selection should pass the sniff test of being a legitimate option (i.e. expecting to draft and sign Alex Ovechkin does not feel legitimate).
- No side deals. Although we are aware that this will be a major part of the actual Expansion Draft, we don’t have enough insider knowledge about what could be done here or what the Kraken would actually try to pull off. So for the purposes of this mock draft, we’re keeping this off the table.
John’s Expansion Draft strategy overview
My strategic roadmap for my team would be to become a perennial playoff contender three to five years down the line and to set up for moments of opportunity to go ‘all in’ for a Stanley Cup run in the future.
In a real-world scenario, my objective would be to accumulate an additional five to 10 additional Entry Draft Picks spread over the next three years. Teams are built through the NHL Entry Draft so the more bets I can make with draft picks, the more likely the chances will be of getting a blue-chip player.
In line with the three-to-five-year strategy, I will index toward younger players that offer more upside and could be bigger contributors after several years.
The single biggest advantage Seattle has in this league is its salary cap space, and just because the Kraken have the cap space, does not mean I want to use it right out of the gate. This advantage could be leveraged for years to come and I would like to preserve this asset if possible.
Expansion Draft goalie strategy
My original goalie strategy was to have three goalies under 30. One would serve as the starter, another goalie would be my backup that is just breaking into the league, and another would spend much of the year in the AHL. This did not play out as I intended. There were a couple goalies I liked that fit this strategy, but they were either a pending UFA or there was someone else on their team that I prioritized over them. I am still happy with the netminders that ended up on my team, though.
The Expansion Draft picks
Expansion Draft Selections
- Anaheim – This came down to Max Jones and Josh Mahura. Mahura would have been the choice, but after a couple rounds of selections and tweaks, I was heavy on left defense so Mahura did not add much to the roster. I went with Max Jones.
- Arizona – Adin Hill has been circled for a while. It is unclear how good he can be in the NHL, but at the very least he could be the third goalie in the depth chart while we try to figure out what level of backstop he can be.
- Boston – I had a tough time with Boston. I landed on Jeremy Lauzon, but depending on the day, I could have selected Nick Ritchie or Trent Frederic. All three could add value to the squad, but I might call around to some GM’s to see if there are any players on Boston that teams might want in a draft-and-trade scenario.
- Buffalo – If exposed, I like Henri Jokiharju from Buffalo. He is the youngest player on my roster and could be a cornerstone of the Seattle defense corps for years.
- Carolina – Sticking with the youth movement, would love to grab Jake Bean from Carolina. The Canes might be eager to keep Bean, though, and could be a side-deal candidate.
- Columbus – Speedy undrafted Eric Robinson is getting a little more playing time in Columbus this year, and Seattle could give him a bigger opportunity.
- Calgary – The current captain of the Flames, Mark Giordano, will be 38 around the start of next season, but has not shown any signs of slowing down. I love the thought of him in the locker room as that steady leader.
- Chicago – Lucas Carlsson does not have much of an NHL resume but could have some upside.
- Colorado – If Devon Toews is available, he is the pick. Crazy to think that one of the better defensemen in the league could be exposed, but the Avalanche’s hands are a bit tied. We should not feel sorry for them.
- Dallas – Jamie Oleksiak is my draft-and-sign UFA. Another strong veteran presence in the locker room. If he is asking for too much or does not want to be part of the Kraken, then Seattle might want to draft him and let him walk. I like Anton Khudobin, but he will turn 36 during the 2021-22 season and will still have another year on his contract so I will pass on selecting him.
- Detroit – Givani Smith shows the most potential in Detroit.
- Edmonton – Assuming Oscar Klefbom is Expansion Draft eligible, this will expose former Portland Winterhawk, Caleb Jones. If so, Jones is the selection.
- Florida – When we updated our forecast, we had Anthony Duclair unprotected. This is probably incorrect but we are sticking with the rules of our mock draft so I will be selecting him.
- Los Angeles – I never thought I would say this, but Dustin Brown’s numbers this season are tough to ignore. With only one year left on his deal, selecting him seems relatively low risk.
- Minnesota – If he is still on the roster come Expansion Draft, Matt Dumba is the selection here.
- Montreal – The Habs have a few young and promising defensemen, but Jake Allen is primed for selection and hopefully sharing the burden between the pipes in year one.
- Nashville – I am passing on Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen to select a slightly younger and much cheaper Colton Sissons.
- New Jersey – Yegor Sharangovich is a bit of a flier. He is young and has not done a lot in the NHL to date, but he put up some big numbers in the KHL earlier this year.
- New York Islanders – Josh Bailey will be another vet that adds playmaking capabilities at right wing.
- New York Rangers – Brett Howden is the pick from the Rangers.
- Ottawa – The Senators do not provide many options, but Nicholas Paul is the type of versatile middle-six forward that is needed on all teams.
- Philadelphia – James van Riemsdyk has put up 21 points in 15 games this year. He’s 31 now, but there’s clearly plenty left for JvR.
- Pittsburgh – Jared McCann could be a sneaky good middle-six forward and up until his injury was contributing to the Pens.
- San Jose Sharks – The watchlist is narrow in San Jose. It comes down to local boy, Dylan Gambrell from Bonney Lake, or former Seattle Thunderbird, Alexander True. I select Gambrell here since he has more NHL experience.
- St Louis – Good depth options available from the Blues. There are several players that are regular contributors and could benefit from an elevated role with the Kraken. For now, I am selecting Ivan Barbashev.
- Tampa Bay – There are a ton of quality options in Tampa. I am expecting a side deal to come out of Tampa Bay. Ondrej Palat is the one that can contribute immediately, but we still need to figure a way to get Tyler Johnson here as well.
- Toronto – Travis Dermott has not had the most productive year, but he is the most skilled Leaf that will be available in the Expansion Draft.
- Vancouver – The 22-year-old Kole Lind, has four goals in five games for the Utica Comets. I like his upside.
- Washington – This one was tough. As much as I would love to see TJ Oshie or Brenden Dillon back in Seattle, I just could not turn down Vitek Vanecek to round out the goalies.
- Winnipeg –Sami Niku is someone we circled at the beginning of the season, even though he has not been able to crack the lineup on a regular basis.
This was much tougher than expected. There are too many NHL players on this team. The NHL roster size is limited, so I would probably look a little deeper into the AHL prospects and/or draft some UFAs on expiring contracts with the intent of letting them enter free agency.
Talentwise, the team is thin at center and center is not a place you want to be thin. In future iterations I would identify a few better centers to prioritize. The team isn’t going to be the juggernaut that Vegas was in the first year, but there are some solid pieces and I like the potential of some of the younger guys like Brett Howden, Max Jones, Kole Lind, Jake Bean, and Henri Jokiharju.
Howden is versatile and can play wing, but he doesn’t play a 200 foot game and is terrible in his own end, especially when playing center. The ONLY reason he is playing the center position now and has moved up from the 4th line where he was playing wing (and he’s better suited there), is because of injuries the Rangers have suffered and the lack of center depth they have in the organization, save a couple college kids they have getting used to the pro game, in Hartford.. It would be a stretch to select him and expect he will be a good fit here at center, because he’s been a major disappointment in NY. I mean Kevin Rooney beat him out for the 4th line center in NY, so what does that tell you!?! But as a Rangers fan, I would love to see him out of NY.
he is only 22 but if you want to run him out of town, so be it.
Bottom line is the options out of the Rangers kind of stink. I thought about Lemieux but with Howden being so young, I would rather take that gamble that he has more upside.
Yes, players that would be exposed in NY are not much to call home about, but that is by design and because they have so many young players, not eligible to be selected. Howden has shown flashes and isn’t too bad on the draw, but when playing center in his own end, he gets caught out of position way too often. Quinn loves the kid though, he is a worker, but a defensive liability. Lemieux adds grit and draws a lot of penalties out of the other team, but he also makes bonehead decisions and takes too many stupid penalties himself.
Very interesting exercise. I have been playing with the expansion draft tool on CapFriendly and it’s a great time waster. I love the flier on Sharangovich. Like Kole Lind, his potential could pay off nicely. Do you think they might try to keep the cap hit of drafted players low, because they’ll have a pretty good selection of UFAs available?
Do you know why I might be having trouble connecting your blog to my Twitter account? I have tried in multiple browsers on my computer, phone and iPad and it just tries to connect without any success.
I realize my question wasn’t terribly clear. I mean the total cap number of all drafted players. Will that be kept low to facilitate UFA signings? I find it difficult to find anything more than prospect goalies in the expansion draft — Jake Allen is more of a backup at this stage of his career. Seems like that is a position best filled through free agency.
I think the CapSpace can be used in better ways than Free Agency. For example, Tyler Johnson went on waivers this off-season and went unclaimed because no one had the cap space for him. They also tried to trade him but the same issue existed. Johnson is still a valuable player but it is just hard for teams to move money around right now. So the Kraken could take Johnson off their hands with a 2nd round draft pick or something since Seattle has the cap space. These kinds of deals can and will be done in the Expansion Draft. Separately, I love how you brought up Jake Allen. When I started my mock draft, I did not want Jake Allen since he was over 30 and has never been the primary guy for a season. But….I felt like I need someone who can bear the load and has more than one season in the NHL. And speaking of free agency & capspace, I think Linus Ulmark as a potential starter for Seattle in year one. he is a pending UFA and if Buffalo protects Jokiharju then Buffalo doesn’t really have a whole lot to offer so maybe they talk to Ullmark and try to do a draft and sign.
This is a great exercise and I’m looking forward to the others’ lists. One thought about your list…. I’d love to have Oleksiak, but I think he’ll walk if we take him (probably back to Dallas). To strengthen our C options, I’d take Jason Dickinson. I think he could flourish with a bigger role.
I went back and forth with Dickinson and Oleksiak. Felt like I need more D so probably why I picked him. The whole process probably needs a few more iterations and tinkering with Dickinson over Oleksiak seems like an interesting scenario.
What do you know about Brandon Hagel out of Chicago? He’s only 22 and looks like he’s had some really good production throughout his career wherever he’s been.
I have not watched him this year but it looks like he has put up some decent numbers (at all levels). I will check him out. Thanks for the tip!
If McCann ended up on Seattle I would a) be livid, like a lot of Penguins fans, b) expect him to be the best C, which he is on this roster imo
Senators will protect Nick Paul. He’s a versatile player for them. Has been wearing an “A” since the trade deadline. Chris Tierney and Ryan Dzingel will be the forwards likely left available. Dzingel is UFA. One of Gustavsson and Daccord will up for grabs too at this point.