Seattle Kraken Mock Expansion Draft
Written by Gabe Collura on July 19, 2021
Photo Credit: nhl.com
The NHL is expanding to Seattle and the expansion draft is set to take place Wednesday. I’ve decided to assemble a team of my own.
The Way It Works: Each team was given an option to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender OR eight skaters of any position and one goaltender. Most teams went the 7-3-1 route.
Seattle will then have to select one player from each team (excluding the Vegas Golden Knights due to an expansion agreement when they entered the league) based on who is available. The protected lists can be seen here.
For reference, UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent, RFA = Restricted Free Agent.
On to the draft!
Anaheim Ducks – Haydn Fleury, D (RFA, 2022)
A good depth piece kicks off the draft for Seattle. Nothing with Fleury will wow you, but the experience the 25-year-old defenseman brings will be valuable to the Kraken.
Arizona Coyotes – Ilya Lyubushkin, D (UFA, 2022)
Lyubushkin is another good depth piece that could find himself slotting into the third defensive pairing for Seattle. The 27-year-old once again has good experience (you’ll find that’s a common theme) playing on Arizona’s top pairing at some points in the year.
Boston Bruins – Jeremy Lauzon, D (RFA, 2022)
The third straight defenseman taken adds a bit of a younger element on the blue line. Lauzon was a second-pair defenseman on a Bruins team that made the second round of the playoffs this past season. He will be a regular on this Seattle roster.
Buffalo Sabres – Jean-Sebastien Dea, F (UFA, 2021)
This is purely a depth selection. Dea will likely not see playing time unless there are serious issues with injuries. He has been in and out of the NHL for a few years now, and at the age of 27 his prime will need to hit in a MASSIVE way for him to make the lineup.
Calgary Flames – Oliver Kylington, D (RFA, 2021)
Depth, depth, and more depth comes with these first five selections. Kylington is 24 and had significant playing time with Calgary in his first few seasons. Additionally, each of these first five picks considerably helps the cap hits that come later in the draft due to the incredibly affordable contracts.
Carolina Hurricanes – Nino Niederreiter, F (UFA, 2022)
This is the first major selection of the expansion draft. Niederreiter is in the prime of his career and is capable of being a 60-point scorer when given top-6 minutes. He carries a $5.25 million cap hit, but I’m confident he can play at a level that makes his contract worth it.
Chicago Blackhawks – Adam Gaudette, F (RFA, 2021)
Gaudette was just acquired at the trade deadline by the Hawks, and he will likely be departing after less than half a season. He’s not been given a real shot to prove himself at the NHL level after playing a wonderful college career, and that trend will probably continue in Seattle. Another depth pick.
Colorado Avalanche – J.T. Compher, F (UFA, 2023)
Compher brings speed and skill to Seattle’s top 6. It is basically guaranteed that Colorado will lose a high-skilled player to the Kraken with how deep of a roster they have. Compher’s talent flies under the radar with the focus on the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar and company. He can prove to be a star if given the minutes.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Max Domi, F (UFA, 2022)
Columbus has not been kind to Max Domi. He was swapped for Josh Anderson a few seasons ago, and the match has been far from in heaven. A change of scenery could go a long way for a player of this caliber. Domi can play either center or on the wing, which provides much needed flexibility when assembling an expansion team.
Dallas Stars – Ben Bishop, G (UFA, 2023)
Seattle finds their Marc-Andre Fleury with this selection. Bishop was a perennial Vezina candidate until injuries began to plague him in Dallas. With Jake Oettinger and Anton Khudobin backstopping the Stars, the goaltender room is too full. All 6-foot-5 of Bishop’s frame frees up space and heads to the Pacific Northwest.
Detroit Red Wings – Vladislav Namestnikov, F (UFA, 2022)
Take a flier on Namestnikov. He’s shown signs of being a talented goal scorer in the past, but the consistency has never come with it. If he can find the 20-goal seasons again, he’ll be a nice piece in the Seattle lineup.
Edmonton Oilers – Tyler Benson, F (RFA, 2021)
Tyler Benson will be an experiment. He’s been absolutely lighting up the AHL, and at the age of 23 he can become an NHL regular very soon. Seattle won’t select too many pieces that are purely for the future, but patience will certainly pay off with Benson.
Florida Panthers – Chris Driedger, G (UFA, 2021)
Driedger showed he can be a fringe starter in Florida, no matter how odd their goaltending tandem’s season was. With the arrival and explosion of Spencer Knight and having Samuel Montembeault tucked away, Driedger is the most expendable goaltender. He’s more than capable of handling 30 starts or even more, should head coach Dave Hakstol look for a 1A-1B goaltending tandem.
Los Angeles Kings – Brendan Lemieux, F (RFA, 2022)
Lemieux is a grit and grind type of player. The Kings traded for him from the Rangers just before the deadline last season. He can play significant bottom 6 minutes and provide some identity for the Kraken.
Minnesota Wild – Carson Soucy, D (UFA, 2023)
Soucy played with Ian Cole on the third pair in Minnesota, and once again adds nice defensive depth for the Kraken. Experience is very important, and he brings some having played with a former Stanley Cup Champion. Soucy also brings physicality to the table, something that is resurfacing as a need in today’s NHL.
Montreal Canadiens – Jonathon Drouin, F (UFA, 2023)
Seattle DEFINITELY thinks long and hard about Carey Price with their Montreal selection, but they ultimately make the right choice. Drouin has loads of talent, and he is still only 26 years old. The third overall pick in the 2013 Draft has shown several flashes of greatness with multiple 50-point seasons, but the consistency hasn’t shown. It’s obvious that Montreal will part ways with the forward soon, and Seattle should jump all over this opportunity.
Nashville Predators – Colton Sissons, F (UFA, 2026)
I’m sure several people will disagree with this selection with the likes of Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene and Callie Jarnkrok available. However, Sissons is on a very team-friendly contract, he is younger than the other guys listed and he is a great role player for the bottom six. Depth forwards are just as important, and Sissons is a guy that can score 15 goals in a third/fourth line role.
New Jersey Devils – Will Butcher, D (UFA, 2022)
There aren’t many names on the Devils’ roster that stand out, but Will Butcher has the potential to become that. At the age of 26, Butcher has played in four NHL seasons, with his rookie year being by far the best (5 goals, 39 assists, 44 points). I have faith that a change in scenery for Butcher could benefit him, even if Seattle decides to just flip him for other assets.
New York Islanders – Jordan Eberle, F (UFA, 2024)
Oh, what I would give to be a fly on the wall when the Islanders assembled their protected list. Words cannot explain what I felt when I saw Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck guarded on the list, but Lou Lamoriello has made some questionable moves in the past that have paid off. Eberle is a talented offensive player with plenty of upside on the power play. He’s scored 20 goals in six separate seasons, and he’ll bring that high level of production to the Kraken’s offense.
New York Rangers – Colin Blackwell, F (UFA, 2022)
The Rangers are another case in this expansion draft where there isn’t a tremendous name on the list that makes your eyes pop. Blackwell will provide depth, nothing more. The Blueshirts certainly dodge a bullet here with several young names (including reigning Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox) being automatically protected due to age/contract relations.
Ottawa Senators – Joey Daccord, G (RFA, 2023)
Ottawa is another team with a very full goaltending room. Daccord raised some eyebrows in limited playing time last season, and he will be a nice asset to develop for the future. The 24-year-old would be sitting behind Filip Gustavsson and Matt Murray, and the Senators need to rid themselves of at least one goaltender. Look for Ottawa to trade some draft picks to the Kraken to help sweeten the deal.
Philadelphia Flyers – James van Riemsdyk, F (UFA, 2023)
JVR has tons of offensive upside and will certainly play in Seattle’s top six. He’s scored 30 goals twice in his 12-year career and hit 20 goals four other occasions. The Kraken are completely okay with carrying his $7 million cap hit just due to his pure goal scoring ability.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Marcus Pettersson, D (UFA, 2025)
The selection of Pettersson by Seattle is the best-case scenario for general manager Ron Hextall. Trading Jared McCann (you’ll see that name again later) to Toronto for Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick was frustrating enough for Penguins fans, and it will get much worse if Brandon Tanev’s name is called in this slot Wednesday evening. Pettersson has taken a few noticeable strides back from his 2019-20 campaign, but it’s nothing that cannot be corrected. Pierre-Olivier Joseph will assume Pettersson’s old role in Pittsburgh, and the rest will be history.
San Jose Sharks – Dylan Gambrell, F (RFA, 2022)
The Sharks provide their new enemies in the Pacific with another young depth piece in Dylan Gambrell. Gambrell has posted subpar numbers in limited NHL action, so adopting this player would mean development for the future. All teams need that, no matter how new to the league you are.
St. Louis Blues – Vince Dunn, D (RFA, 2021)
This is yet another case where I’m not quite sure where management was going with their protected list. Not only was Dunn left unprotected, but Vladimir Tarasenko was as well. There’s been talk of the Kraken selecting Tarasenko to turn around and deal him to Philadelphia. Keep an eye out for that. As for Dunn, he will provide a solid last line of defense as well as sneaky offensive production. He will need to be re-signed right away, but the Kraken should have no problem making that happen.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Yanni Gourde, F (UFA, 2025)
The back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions cannot keep everyone. They’re another case in which the team they have is so deep they’ll lose a high-quality player. Yanni Gourde is a highly talented center that has been stuck playing on the third line in Tampa. However, head coach Jon Cooper trusted Gourde’s line more than any other line he had throughout the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Is that good? I think that’s good.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Jared McCann, F (RFA, 2022)
To say I was amazed when I saw the Leafs didn’t protect newly acquired forward Jared McCann is an understatement. McCann’s real coming-out party was in Pittsburgh, where he played practically everywhere in the lineup. His combination of speed and skill with the flexibility to play both center and wing make him a highly valuable piece in Seattle’s lineup.
Vancouver Canucks – Madison Bowey, D (UFA, 2022)
I’d be shocked if Bowey ever wears a Kraken jersey. The Canucks stink, and there is no one available that I imagine Seattle would be eager to select. Bowey will likely spend the entire season in the minors, or he will be a throw-in for a trade elsewhere.
Washington Capitals – Garnet Hathaway, F (UFA, 2023)
Hathaway brings grit to the Kraken, which I’ve mentioned is something they will need. It’s also notable that Hathaway has plenty of playoff experience playing with Washington and Calgary in the past. Experience like that is valuable to the younger players on the team.
Winnipeg Jets – Dylan DeMelo, D (UFA, 2024)
DeMelo will undoubtedly play in the top four on the blue line. He’s a brilliant offensive talent that also plays solid defense. One of the most sought-after assets in free agency a couple seasons ago will find a nice niche in Seattle.
Thirty teams, thirty picks. My line combinations would read as follows.
Van Riemsdyk (PHI) – Domi (CBJ) – Eberle (NYI)
Drouin (MTL) – Compher (COL) – Niederreiter (CAR)
McCann (TOR) – Gourde (TBL) – Sissons (NSH)
Hathaway (WSH) – Blackwell (NYR) – Lemieux (LAK)
Dunn (STL) – DeMelo (WPG)
Pettersson (PIT) – Lauzon (BOS)
Butcher (NJD) – Lyubushkin (ARI)
Daccord (OTT), Fleury (ANA), Kylington (CGY), Bowey (VAN), Soucy (MIN), Gaudette (CHI), Benson (EDM), Gambrell (SJS), Dea (BUF), Namestnikov (DET)
Gabe Collura is a Sports Coordinator at Black Squirrel Radio. Follow him on Twitter @gabecollura for more sports content.