Do you like NHL players? Are you interested in NHL players that may be available to the Seattle Kraken in July’s Expansion Draft? Would you like to know when some of those players will be on the ice for your viewing pleasure?
Then you’re in luck because this week’s Games on the Radar focuses on the Mass Mutual East Division and four teams that have NHL players available. Give them a watch, and while you’re watching, take a brief moment to close your eyes and picture them hitting the ice at Climate Pledge Arena with an ‘S’ on their chest and some sort of catchy song blaring from above.
Here are this week’s Games on the Radar:
Philadelphia Flyers versus New York Islanders
When: Thursday, 4 PM, NBC Sports, NHL.TV free game
The Flyers came into the season as a hot pick to contend. They haven’t quite done that but are in striking distance of a playoff spot despite shaky defense and goaltending. They do have interesting Expansion Draft options for the Kraken, however, and that’s all we care about right now.
Dealing with little to no cap space, the Flyers most likely will expose a veteran player who could step in and play right away. One potential to keep an eye on is Jakub Voracek whose contract of $8.25 million a year could lead Philadelphia to expose him. Voracek is a productive scorer and finding goal scoring for the Kraken in the Expansion Draft could prove difficult. His numbers are down a bit this year – with just four goals and an expected goal percentage of 41 percent – which makes his exposure more likely. He’s not the only vet that Philadelphia could expose, however. James van Riemsdyk is a veteran scoring forward who is having a big year and could fit in well with the Kraken. On defense, keep an eye on Shayne Gostisbehere who has had productive seasons in the past but has fought injuries and could be risky.
The Islanders find themselves on top of the East Division somehow, but they too have some cap constraints that could lead to tasty Kraken Expansion Draft picks. Perhaps the top player in the Kraken crosshairs is Josh Bailey. He’s 31 – which feels super young to those of us who have passed that milepost – and is a productive two-way player. If you like expected goal percentage as a gauge, his is 51 percent and Islanders goalies have a collective .944 save percentage when Bailey is on the ice which suggests he takes care of his own end. Not too shabby. A younger guy to watch is Kieffer Bellows who is on the bubble to be protected. Bellows, 22, is a former first-round pick who has yet to catch on in the NHL, although he is coming off a two-goal performance last week. The one-time Portland Winterhawk is still young, which may lead New York to protect him, but he’s worth checking out.
When watching the Islanders, you should always keep an eye on Mathew Barzal who will not be available to the Kraken in the Expansion Draft but is a dangler and worth the price of admission.
New York Rangers versus Washington Capitals
When: Friday, 4 PM, NHL Network
The Rangers aren’t all that good of a hockey team and the players the Kraken have to choose from in the Expansion Draft are not guys that will knock your socks off. So why do we care? Because they do have players who can be depth guys. The glue guys that help a team win. Every team needs them despite their lack of marquee appeal.
Brendan Lemieux is one such player on the Rangers roster. He’s 25 years old and his numbers won’t impress you, but he could be a bottom-six guy for Seattle and will chip in from time to time. Brett Howden, 22, also won’t make you jump out of your seat but he’s young and did score in junior. He has yet to find the net this year but at that age could be a guy to groom in the minors and hope to cash in. We admit this is getting a little depressing, but you could also eyeball Julien Gauthier who is a former first-round pick by Ron Francis. Again, he’s young, just 23, and the potential as a goal-scorer is there. He’s scored in the AHL and that combined with his age may lead him to be protected.
By contrast, the Capitals are a very good team and fighting for first place in the Mass Mutual East Division. It appears that most Kraken fans, based on message board comments, tweets, and all other social media have already figured out who Seattle is going to select in the Expansion Draft. That would be center T.J. Oshie. Did you know he grew up in the area? While the local tie is a fun story, is he worth a pick? He’s aging but his 19 points in 27 games is decent and he has plus-50 numbers in both Corsi-for and expected goals percentage so it appears the production is still there. If you like the local tie but prefer defense, then watch former Seattle Thunderbirds captain Brenden Dillon. He’s not going to score a lot of goals from the backend, but the Kraken could do worse than snaring a physical, shut-down guy in the Expansion Draft.