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.