As the Stanley Cup Playoffs field narrows down to eight, I thought it would be a good time to check in on our Seattle Expansion Draft projections for the teams that are still alive. Projecting who will be exposed and taken in the July draft can be a fool’s errand at times, but this should give Kraken fans another element of enjoyment for these Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Expansion Draft projection framework
To help manage expectations and add context to the projections, I put together a framework to help guide the conversation.
- Protected: Players being projected as being protected by their current team.
- Watchlist: Players that are shortlisted for the Seattle Kraken, should they be made available.
- Unprotected: Players that are eligible for the Expansion Draft but are unlikely to be protected or picked by Seattle. I have filtered these players out of any projection tables.
Projection Confidence Level:
The Projection Confidence Level is subjective and is an illustration of how confident I am in the Projection Category. For example, Matt Barzal is a lock to be protected and has a projection category of “Protected” and a Projection Confidence Level of 100%. For another example, I am confident that Morgan Geekie will be high on the Seattle Kraken’s watchlist so I gave him a 75% confidence level as a “watchlist” player.
There is also a scenario where some very good players are pending Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA). The Kraken have an exclusive 48-hour window where they can negotiate with these pending UFAs to agree to terms on a possible contract extension. If they can agree to a deal, the Kraken will draft these players off their respective teams. This will be extremely rare in the Expansion Draft, and as such, I am only giving a 10% confidence level for any pending UFAs of note.
Carolina Hurricanes Expansion Draft Projections
All year long it seemed as if Ron Francis and crew would have the pick of two former Tri-City Americans with Jake Bean and Morgan Geekie as likely exposure candidates. It recently became clear, though, that Dougie Hamilton is unlikely to sign an extension with the Hurricanes before the Expansion Draft. This will open a protection spot for Jake Bean. Geekie should still be exposed and looks like the target here.
There is also a chance the Kraken want a bit more experience with their roster and target Brady Skjei on defense or Jesper Fast as a wing. Geekie has yet to play in a playoff game this season but is a likely candidate to step in if there are any injuries to the forwards.
Tampa Bay Lightning Expansion Draft Projections
One way or another, the Tampa Bay Lightning will have plenty of options for the Kraken to choose from. The Lightning are also one of the more complex teams to project for the Expansion Draft. On Saturday, I was forecasting they would want to protect former first-round draft pick, Cal Foote, and go with the 4-4-1 format vs the 7-3-1 format. On Monday, I changed my mind and now feel they will put a higher value on Ondrej Palat, thus forcing them back to the 7-3-1 format. The final two forward slots are interchangeable with most of the forwards on the watchlist. Even Ross Colton seems to be having a breakout year and could end up protected.
To add to the complexity of predicting the Lightning’s approach to the Expansion Draft, Tampa needs to move money off its roster to be salary cap compliant for next season and is primed for a side deal. When the Expansion Draft is complete, I expect Seattle to grab at least three assets from Tampa. I predict at least one of Killorn, Gourde, or Palat to be part of the Expansion Draft. Additionally, the Bolts will want to move Tyler Johnson’s salary and what better place than Seattle to make that happen? They will need to move a prospect or some future draft picks for the Seattle Kraken to consider taking on Johnson’s $5 million salary.
Boston Bruins Expansion Draft Projections
The Bruins are another complex team to evaluate for the Expansion Draft. Of the forwards, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has been playing in Sweden all season, and Ondrej Kase was forecasted as protected at the beginning of the season but has not played since January due to injury. Meanwhile, Trent Frederic and Zach Senyshyn are just breaking into the NHL which makes their evaluation challenging. On defense, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon do not have the offensive upside of a Cale Makar or Quinn Hughes, but they could be stable defenders in the NHL for many years. These are good options from Boston, but they all have some level of risk.
It is worth calling out that Taylor Hall is a pending UFA and most people predict him to re-sign with the Bruins. If this happens, it will more than likely occur after the Expansion Draft and will not be a contributing factor in Boston’s protection list.
New York Islanders Expansion Draft Projections
The New York Islanders will probably approach the Expansion Draft as an opportunity to shed some salary by exposing and then encouraging Seattle to select a high salary player. On the surface, it looks like the last forward protected spot will come down to Kieffer Bellows or Josh Bailey. But would anyone be surprised if general manager Lou Lamoriello exposes Jordan Eberle or Brock Nelson to bait Seattle into taking one of those players and their cap hit? I do not expect it, but I also know that Lamoriello can be unpredictable.
Perhaps more likely, Lamoriello could expose Semyon Varlamov to move his $5 million cap hit since it appears that Ilya Sorokin is the goalie of the future for the Islanders. Sorokin is exempt from the Expansion Draft and does not require protection.
Tomorrow I will cover the other three teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that are participating in the Expansion Draft next month (remember, Vegas is exempt). I hope this gives you another reason to enjoy these games as we get closer and closer to the Expansion Draft.