There are several NHL players with local ties that are possible draft picks for the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft, but I wanted to see if it was possible to build an entire team with connections to the Pacific Northwest. Against my better judgement, I went on an endeavor to create the most local expansion team possible that was still compliant within the rules of the upcoming Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.
Rules of the Sound Of Hockey Mock Expansion Draft
The rules of the hyper-local Expansion Draft are the same as our other mock drafts that we have been completing at Sound Of Hockey over the past couple of weeks.
- 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 good knowledge about what could be done here. So for the purposes of this mock draft, we’re keeping this off the table.
Rule addendums for the Hyper-Local Mock Expansion Draft
To make it hyper local, however, we have added a few additional stipulations.
- Any available Washington State natives that are eligible for the NHL Expansion Draft must be drafted.
- You must have a representative from each US Division WHL team.
- You must draft one former BCHL player.
- You must draft one Alaskan native.
- You must draft one former Idaho Steelhead.
- If there are no available players from Washington State or US WHL Division on an existing NHL team, then and only then can you select players from other WHL teams.
Washington State natives
This is the easiest part of the draft. We take Dylan Gambrell (SJS) from Bonney Lake, Derek Ryan (CGY) from Spokane, T.J. Oshie (WSH) from Mt. Vernon, and Tyler Johnson (TBL) from Spokane. Ryan is a pending free agent so he takes our UFA spot. That might put us in a bind later, but he is an obvious selection.
US Division WHL team
Spokane is covered with Ryan and Johnson so we need to make sure Seattle, Everett, Tri-City, and Portland have representation. We also need to make sure we have the positional requirement of 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goaltenders. I am going to prioritize goalies first since that is allegedly an important position (though I don’t really buy that).
- Adin Hill (ARI) played for the Portland Winterhawks for two seasons and is probably one of the best goalies we can get right now.
- Eric Comrie (WPG) will be our Tri-City Americans representative. He played 168 regular season games over four seasons for the Americans.
- Calvin Pickard (played for Seattle) and Chris Driedger (played for Tri-City) are both pending UFAs. We cannot select them due to already using our UFA signing on Derek Ryan.
- The only US Division goalie left is Landon Bow in Dallas. Bow played 23 regular season games for the Seattle Thunderbirds.
- We still do not have the Everett Silvertips represented, but there are two available in Florida, Radko Gudas and Noah Juulsen. Neither is having a very strong year, but I am going to select Juulsen because he is young and has potential.
BCHL, Alaskan and Steelhead player requirements
Now that we have our US Division WHL players selected, let us identify our BCHL player, our Alaskan native, and our Idaho Steelhead.
- For our BCHL player, we are going to select Troy Stecher (DET). Stecher played for the Penticton Vees for three seasons before playing collegiately in North Dakota. Coincidentally, Stecher could be the best player available from the Red Wings.
- Alaska. This one is challenging. Right now there is only one NHL player from Alaska, former Seattle Thunderbird Nate Thompson. He would be perfect and would check multiple boxes. The issue is that he is a pending UFA and we already selected our UFA signing in Derek Ryan. We could go after Washington Capital Pheonix Copley, but we select T.J. Oshie from the Caps. Digging deeper, I also scoured the alumni from the University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska Fairbanks with no luck. Colton Parayko played at University of Alaska Fairbanks, but we are projecting him to be protected and therefore cannot draft him. We thought we were out of luck, but in the eleventh hour, we appealed to the league and received a waiver for this rule under the condition we hire Scott Gomez as one of the first assistant coaches of the Seattle Kraken….or we hire him for our digital media team.
- Sam Carrick of the Anaheim Ducks played most of his first pro season for the Idaho Steelheads. Carrick is a pending UFA so per the rules, he will not be re-signed and enter free agency.
We have met all the core requirements across geographies and leagues, so now we need to fill out the rest of the team. I will now need to focus on WHL US Division players that I know off the top of my head could be available. Matt Dumba (MIN/Portland), Jake Bean (CAR/Tri City), Caleb Jones (EDM/Portland), and Ryan Johansen (NSH/Portland) will fit in nicely with the hyper-local Kraken.
The rest of the squad
- Anaheim has several WHL players that will be available but only one from the US Division. As a policy of the Hyper-Local Mock Expansion Draft, we must pick him. Chase De Leo is joining the Kraken.
- This might be a deep cut but the Boston Bruin with the closest tie to the Pacific Northwest is Cameron Hughes. Hughes played two seasons with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).
- Buffalo has a few WHLers on its roster but only one US Division player. Dustin Tokarski will be joining the team as a fourth goalie.
- In Chicago we are going to select 22-year-old left wing Brandon Hagel who played four years with the Red Deer Rebels.
- Colorado has a few options, but we like the thought of former Penticton Vees center, Tyson Jost.
- There aren’t a lot of options in Columbus, but Calvin Thurkauf played two years in Kelowna so we are picking him.
- From Los Angeles, we will take former Seattle Thunderbird defenseman Austin Strand.
- Shea Weber played 190 games for the Kelowna Rockets. He is our pick out of Montreal.
- As much as I loved Thomas Hickey when he played with the Seattle Thunderbirds at Key Arena, I need to select Kieffer Bellows from the New York Islanders. Bellows played one year in Portland.
- Pretty deep cut here as well, but the New York Rangers only have two WHL players that are projected to be exposed in the Expansion Draft. Mason Geertsen is our pick. He played with the Edmonton Oil Kings and Vancouver Giants, but has yet to play a game in the NHL. Rules are rules.
- Derrick Pouliot played four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks and is our pick from the Philadelphia Flyers.
- Colton Sceviour also played in Portland for two years and is our only option out of Pittsburgh. Sceviour is another pending UFA so he will not be re-signed and will enter free agency.
- For the life of me, I could not find a WHL player on the Ottawa Senators that is exposed and not a pending UFA, so we are going to draft pending UFA and former Portland Winterhawk, Braydon Coburn with the expectation that he walks to free agency.
- St. Louis does not have many players with northwest ties, but Tanner Kaspick played four seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one season with the Victoria Royals. Kaspick has yet to play a game in the NHL but is only 23, so he still has a shot.
- Toronto is another team with very few players with northwest ties, but we found one! 24-year-old forward Adam Brooks played five seasons with the Regina Pats.
- Rounding out the roster is Vancouver Canucks prospect Kole Lind, who played three seasons with the Kelowna Rockets.
…and I am utterly exhausted from looking at literally hundreds of hockeydb.com player profile pages.
Let’s see how we did.
We seem to be a little heavy at the center position and a little light at left wing, but we’re hoping some of the centers we took can shift over.
Even with the constraints of the rule addendums for the Hyper-Local Mock Expansion Draft, there are some players that could be candidates for the Kraken. Hill, Bean, Jones, Stecher, Oshie, Gambrell, and Bellows are probably on a short-list at Kraken HQ.
I hope you enjoyed a lighter look at the Expansion Draft.