After a crazy week of trades, buyouts, contract extensions, and waived no-movement clauses (NMCs), we’re finally to Friday and my submission for the mock Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft roster. The “final” version has changed at least 10 times this week, and between the posting today and the final protection list submissions from the teams on Saturday, I would bet things change at least another time or two.
If you missed any of the mock protection lists I’ve put together over the past week, or you want to see how things have updated since original publication, you can find them here.
Pacific Division Protection List: Click Here.
Central Division Protection List: Click Here.
Atlantic Division Protection List: Click Here.
Metropolitan Division Protection List: Click Here.
As a reminder, while I expect some teams will work on side deals during the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, either to stay away from key prospects or to take certain exposed players for roster or salary cap relief, this mock decided not to address those possibilities. And for good reason.
According to multiple sources, the asking price for Seattle to stay away from exposed players is a first and third round pick. That’s a tall order depending on player availability and which teams have the assets necessary to defend those players if they so choose.
— James Nichols (@JamesNicholsNYI) July 16, 2021
Also, one last giant Thank You to CapFriendly, whose free-to-use Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Simulator tool helped me put this project together.
Let’s get into it. Here are the players I’m predicting will be selected during the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft:
Anaheim Ducks – Sam Steel, F
Sam Steel’s career with the Ducks has yet to take off. The 30th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Steel has played up and down the Anaheim lineup, yet to find a true fit and establish a role for himself.
In 129 career games, Steel has just 18 goals and 27 assists. However, at 23-years-old, Steel is just getting started in his NHL career, and a change of scenery could be just what he needs to jumpstart his game.
Adam Henrique could be an option here, but with a $5.8 million cap hit, his cost becomes too much for Seattle to take.
Arizona Coyotes – Adin Hill, G
The first goaltender off the board is Adin Hill of the Arizona Coyotes. Hill is an exciting prospect and should be competing for a spot on the roster from the jump, but he could also be a trade chip for a team in need of goaltending help.
Hill had a 9-9-1 record in 19 games (17 starts) last season, along with a 2.74 GAA, a .913 save percentage and two shutouts. He stepped in while fellow Coyotes netminders Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta were injured and because goaltenders tend to take longer to develop, the 25-year-old Hill is just starting to break into his prime.
Defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin showed some signs of progress last season and as a right-handed defenseman, he’s got some upside, but Hill has the higher ceiling and is a better all-around value.
Boston Bruins – Jeremy Lauzon, D
Jeremy Lauzon is a solid pick for the Kraken and he slots in as a top-four defense option for Seattle. Lauzon can play either side, and that roster flexibility is important. He becomes a restricted free agent (RFA) following the 2021-22 season, but at $850K next season, there’s a ton of upside to this pick.
Lauzon was taken in the second round of the 2015 Draft and has played three seasons so far in his NHL career. He played nearly 19 minutes per game in 41 games for the Bruins last year and had just two penalty minutes in that span. There’s a ton of upside here, and Lauzon should be a solid player for the Kraken for the next few seasons.
Center Curtis Lazar is an interesting option here as well, following his steady play in the bottom six for Boston during the playoffs. It’s important to have good center depth, but the higher ceiling for Lauzon makes him the smart selection here.
Buffalo Sabres – Will Borgen, D
Buffalo didn’t have much to offer during the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, but defenseman William Borgen is at least an interesting prospect. The 24-year-old right-shot blueliner has played in only 14 NHL games. In 61 games with AHL Rochester in 2019-20, he scored one goal with 10 assists and had 76 PIMs.
While Borgen may not have the same appeal as a prospect as some of the others on this list, he does add an element of toughness. He won’t light up a scoreboard but he can energize the team in other ways. At 6’3”, 205 lbs, Borgen is no stranger to the scrap and can throw hands when he needs to.
Calgary Flames – Mark Giordano, D
All week, I was convinced Seattle would go with Oliver Kylington at this pick. He’s a younger player, an RFA, and someone who has top-six defenseman upside. With Giordano’s cap hit of $6.75 million next season and at age 37, Kylington seemed like the more reasonable pick.
But after the Minnesota Wild bought out Ryan Suter to protect Matt Dumba, and after the Avalanche traded Ryan Graves (who I had pegged to be Seattle’s top defenseman next season), Seattle takes advantage where they can get it and takes someone who could be their captain in Year One.
Giordano’s offensive production has really fallen off over the past two seasons, but defensively, he still has quite a bit in the tank. Taking Giordano carries some risk, but the potential reward is there if Giordano can put together a couple of serviceable seasons.
Carolina Hurricanes – Warren Foegele, F
The Kraken really can’t go wrong with any player they take from Carolina. They could add a veteran leader like Jordan Martinook, a UFA who has been one of the Hurricanes’ captains each of the past two seasons. They could take a defensive prospect like Jake Bean who has shown promise but has been squeezed out of lineup time by the elite defensive pipeline Carolina has built.
However, the pick for me is Warren Foegele. Foegele is also an RFA but he can play anywhere in the middle of the lineup and is a solid forechecker and play-driver. With a chance to shine in Seattle, I think Foegele could be this draft’s version of William Karlsson, breaking out with the new team and shattering the expectations placed on him at expansion time.
Chicago Blackhawks – Calvin de Haan, D
Calvin de Haan has been a reliable defenseman throughout his career, and while he’s not someone who makes a ton of flashy plays with minimal offensive upside (he’s cracked the 20 point mark once in his career), he blocks a ton of shots and racks up hits. Though de Haan doesn’t fit the “agitator” mold, he still frustrates opponents with his smart positioning and stickwork to keep them off the board.
For the Kraken, de Haan will either be a solid second pairing defenseman or an excellent third-pairing blueliner. He turned 30 in May and is still in the prime of his career, and Seattle will be quite happy with this pick.
The only way I could see Seattle taking someone OTHER than de Haan would be if they opted for goaltender Malcom Subban to add some goaltending depth. But like with the logic for Giordano, getting defensemen who will be able to start right away is important. de Haan makes too much sense here.
Colorado Avalanche – Joonas Donskoi, F
Ryan Graves was a lock in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, but after Colorado traded the blueliner to the New Jersey Devils Thursday night, the Avalanche are now much more likely to lose a forward.
While I opted for Joonas Donskoi as the Kraken’s pick from the Avs, I’m not convinced Donskoi won’t end up protected while the Avalanche leave Gabriel Landeskog exposed. Colorado has struggled to make headway on an extension for their captain of the past nine seasons. I think the two sides will eventually work out a deal, but Colorado could expose Landeskog to protect Donskoi, who is still under contract through 2023.
If Colorado exposes Landeskog and protects Donskoi, right wing J.T. Compher would be the Kraken’s pick.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Dean Kukan, D
The Blue Jackets still haven’t worked out a Seth Jones trade, which means he’ll get one of the protection spots. With Zach Werenski and Vladislav Gavrikov taking the other two spots and Columbus choosing to protect seven forwards, Dean Kukan is the best option available for Seattle.
Kukan scored a goal and had four assists in 35 games last season. He’s likely to be the No. 6 or 7 defenseman in Seattle’s rotation, though he could end up as an NHL/AHL taxi type player. Kukan has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but he would be a solid addition.
Eric Robinson could be a choice here too, but he would be a lower-end depth wing option.
Dallas Stars – Jason Dickinson, F
Goaltender Anton Khudobin looked like a reasonable pick for Seattle, but that was before Ben Bishop waived his NMC Thursday. Now, Khudobin will be protected instead, providing a quality backup option to Bishop, who has struggled with injuries throughout his career.
Instead, we end up with another RFA selection for Seattle. Jason Dickinson is a great option up the middle. A former first round pick, Dickinson has yet to become a true scoring forward or offensive force, but he’s shown a strong ability to carry the puck and he can play center or wing anywhere in the lineup.
Dickinson also saw significant penalty kill time for Dallas last season and would almost certainly fill that role for the Kraken. If Seattle opts to select a defenseman here, they could go for UFA Jamie Oleksiak, but Dickinson will be the better option for the Kraken.
Detroit Red Wings – Vladislav Namestnikov, F
If the Seattle Kraken take Vladislav Namestnikov, they’re going to be getting one of the better forecheckers in the league. Namestnikov saw time on both the power play and penalty kill units for the Red Wings last season, and he’s a past 20 goal scorer.
He may not be a household name, but Namestnikov is the type of depth player contending teams need to get over the top. Namestnikov can play a variety of roles and with Seattle, he’d be around an overall more talented team than he has seen with Detroit or Ottawa in recent years.
Prospect defenseman Dennis Cholowski may get a look here, but Namestnikov meets the contract requirement for being signed through the 2021-22 season while Cholowski is an RFA this offseason.
Edmonton Oilers – Oscar Klefbom, D
One of the biggest risks taken in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft is the Kraken selecting defenseman Oscar Klefbom. Klefbom missed all of the 2021 season following shoulder surgery. Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca also reported this week that Klefbom has a “very slim chance” at playing in the 2021-22 season.
So why would the Kraken take such a gamble? Because Klefbom, when healthy, could be very well worth the risk.
Before his injury, Klefbom was a consistent 20+ point scoring defenseman who played major minutes for the Oilers, including more than 25 minutes per game during the 2019-20 season. He eats pucks, is incredibly disciplined, and is physically tough to play against. There’s a ton of upside with Klefbom, who turns 28 next week.
However, if reports that Klefbom may miss next season are true, he would have one season left on his contract before becoming a UFA in 2023. I’m fully aware it’s a big risk to take a player who may go two seasons between games. But Klefbom could absolutely be worth that risk, and with few quality options to choose from, why not take a gamble on a potential top-pairing defenseman when Klefbom is healthy again?
Building a good defense group is important, so if Seattle isn’t comfortable enough to gamble on Klefbom, they may take their chances with UFA d-man Adam Larsson, though Larsson reportedly wants to stay in Edmonton, and the Oilers want him back, too. Tyson Barrie is also a UFA and could be an option, though I think it’s more likely Barrie heads to free agency before striking a deal somewhere.
Florida Panthers – Radko Gudas, D
As I touched on with Edmonton, building a quality defensive group is key during the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. Gudas is a shutdown defenseman who brings a serious element of toughness to any team he plays for. He’s bounced around the league a bit in recent years, with stops in Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Washington before landing with Florida last year.
Gudas has tallied 200+ hits five times in his nine year career, and one of those where he didn’t was his rookie season, in which Gudas only played 22 games. He has also blocked 100+ shots five times and he’s cut down dramatically on penalties from earlier in his career, leaving his enforcer role behind to become a shut-down player.
Noel Acciari could draw interest here, but again, with fewer top-six defensive options on the board, Gudas is reasonable and affordable at $2.5 million over each of the next two seasons.
Los Angeles Kings – Blake Lizotte, F
Like a few of the other players on this list, Lizotte has yet to really find his footing with the Kings. In 107 career games, Lizotte has scored nine goals with 24 assists. However, at 23 years old and with a solid hockey resume (First-Team NCHC All-Star while playing for St. Cloud State, nearly a point-per-game scorer at the NCAA level), Lizotte is just getting started.
With a new home in Seattle, Lizotte will likely be a fourth-line or reserve forward to start out, but he’ll get a chance to start fresh and compete hard for the ice time. Lizotte is in his last season of his contract as well, so plenty of motivation to get a nice new deal.
Defenseman Olli Määttä could be in play here as well.
Minnesota Wild – Carson Soucy, D
The hockey world was stunned on Tuesday when the Wild announced they would be buying out the contracts of forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. While the Parise move was somewhat expected, buying out Suter was completely out of the blue. According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, Suter was so in shock, he hung up the phone on Wild general manager Bill Guerin when Guerin informed Suter of the buyout.
With Suter no longer taking up a protection spot, Minnesota all but guaranteed Matt Dumba would take the final defensive protection spot. Ryan Hartman, who took a discount on an extension to stay with Minnesota, also slots in for Parise on the protection list, leaving defenseman Carson Soucy as the best option available for Seattle.
Soucy has scored eight goals and added 23 assists in his NHL career and he’s taken steps forward each season. Last year for Minnesota, he set a career high in points (17), PIMs (51) and +/- (+22 while playing mostly third-pairing minutes). He also led the team in on-ice goals against/60 (meaning he allowed the fewest goals against per 60 minutes of ice time of any Wild skater, not just the defensemen).
Goaltender Kaapo Kähkönen will get a strong look here, and there’s a chance Seattle looks at center Victor Rask (who was once an alternate captain for the Carolina Hurricanes, as I learned today!), but for immediate blueline help, Soucy is an excellent choice for the Kraken.
Montreal Canadiens – Jonathan Drouin, F
Many of the mock Seattle Kraken Expansion Drafts I’ve read have goaltender Jake Allen going to Seattle, but the contrarian in me thinks Seattle goes another direction here.
Jonathan Drouin is coming off a frustrating season where he scored just two goals in 44 games (though he did have 21 assists). Late in the year, Drouin left the team for personal reasons and did not return to the team for the playoffs. After missing the run to the Cup Final, I believe Drouin has played his last game in Montreal.
However, a fresh start in Seattle could be just what Drouin needs. The third overall pick in 2013, Drouin is a skilled forward who has scored 50+ points twice in his career. While “personal reasons” were the only reason given for his absence, there has been tremendous, and oftentimes unfair, pressure on Drouin since he was traded to Montreal in 2017, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a factor in his decision to take time away from the team.
If he returns to the ice focused on his game, with whatever personal business behind him, I think Drouin could slot in as a top line winger for the Kraken.
Nashville Predators – Calle Jarnkrok, F
As one of the league’s best developers of defensive talent over the last 20 years (Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Dan Hamhuis, Samuel Girard, and many more), it’s no surprise the Predators opt to protect five of their top six defenseman for the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.
With many forwards either entering UFA status this offseason (such as Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula), or locked up on overpriced deals (such as Matt Duchene for the next five years and Ryan Johansen for the next four years at $8 million AAV each), Seattle goes for the team-friendly, versatile forward Calle Jarnkrok.
Jarnkrok can play center or on either wing. He is a vicious forechecker and consistently scores 15 goals a season. As a projected middle-six forward, Jarnkrok is also effective on special teams, logging nearly 80 minutes of power play time and nearly 100 minutes of penalty kill time last season for Nashville.
With five defensive spots accounted for, and Filip Forsberg and Luke Kuning taking up spots six and seven, the final protection slot comes down to Jarnkrok or Colton Sissons. Sissons has five years left on his deal while Jarnkrok only has one year remaining. If Jarnkrok is exposed, there’s really no one else Seattle should consider taking.
New Jersey Devils – Michael McLeod, F
With few options to choose from, the Seattle Kraken once again make their selection based on draft pedigree when taking forward Michael McLeod. The 12th overall pick in 2016, McLeod first saw a significant share of ice time this season, playing in 52 games. He scored nine goals and had six assists while playing just under 14 minutes per game.
McLeod seems like he could be a “late-bloomer” prospect, and if that’s the case, he could be stepping into a great situation in Seattle. At 23, he’ll be forced to compete for the roster spot from the get-go. From the Kraken’s perspective, McLeod is on his current contract for the next two seasons, carrying a cap hit of just over $860K.
Taking McLeod is a low-risk option with potential for a nice reward.
New York Islanders – Kiefer Bellows, F
Let me start this section by saying I don’t actually think Seattle will select Kiefer Bellows in the expansion draft.
Don’t get me wrong – for the purposes of this mock Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Exercise, Bellows made a ton of sense. He’s a young prospect with a talented pedigree (he is the son of longtime NHLer Brian Bellows), and a player who is hungry for more but hasn’t seen enough ice time because of the players ahead of him on the roster.
But in application, I would be quite surprised if the Islanders don’t throw a draft pick or two Seattle’s way to clear some cap room. New York has roughly $4.4 million in cap room and needs to figure out what to do with their UFAs (Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac, and Casey Cizikas) and RFAs (Michael Dal Colle, Anthony Beauvillier, and Ilya Sorokin). Moving someone like Cal Clutterbuck ($3.5 million AAV), Leo Komarov ($3 million AAV), or even Jordan Eberle ($5.5 million AAV) would give some much-needed breathing room.
It’s possible even that Bellows would be thrown in as a kicker on the deal for Seattle to take a player who clears cap room. But since my rules at the beginning were to only deal with player selections and not work out trades, I have to abide by them. Bellows makes the most sense.
New York Rangers – Kevin Rooney, F
Colin Blackwell has been one of the main Rangers mocked to Seattle, but again, sometimes I do these things just to be different.
While Rooney doesn’t have quite the same offensive upside as Blackwell, one big factor was his lineup versatility. Rooney can play center or wing, while has primarily been a center. Various analytics arguments alternate between Rooney and Blackwell, with maybe a slight edge to Blackwell, Rooney’s work on the penalty kill was what tipped the scales for me.
This mock Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft gives the Kraken quite a few goal-scoring options, so taking advantage of defensive specialists when possible is a good idea too. For me, it’s Rooney, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all with Blackwell.
Ottawa Senators – Evgenii Dadonov, F
The Kraken get some scoring punch with Ottawa winger Evgenii Dadonov. Dadonov scored 25+ goals in three of the last four seasons and scored 13 last season in 55 games. Part of that dip came from no longer playing on a line with Aleksander Barkov and/or Jonathan Huberdeau, but Dadonov still has a dangerous shot and can be the shoot-first player Seattle needs.
Matt Murray is a bit of a surprise in exposure, but after a shaky 2020 year and a brutal 2021 campaign, it’s not undeserved. He hasn’t yet lived up to his contract either, which could drive Seattle away.
Chris Tierney could be a good center depth option, but Dadnov is the right choice.
Philadelphia Flyers – James van Riemsdyk, F
Another heavy offensive hitter, James van Riemsdyk is the next player off the board in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. One of Philadelphia’s most dynamic weapons, van Riemsdyk uses his physical presence and quick release to bully opponents in the offensive zone. He’s a bit streaky at times, but he has scored 40 points in each of the past three seasons despite pandemic-related schedule shortening.
Under contract for two more years at $7 million AAV, van Riemsdyk would be the priciest selection. However, he is still playing at a level that is worth his contract and would be a smart pickup.
Jakub Voracek is another intriguing option here, but going up to $8.25 million AAV would’ve put this team over the cap. If Seattle takes Voracek, they would need to cut corners somewhere else (perhaps with San Jose, as I’ll touch on in a moment).
Pittsburgh Penguins – Jason Zucker, F
With Tristan Jarry exposed, there’s temptation to take the streaky netminder and hope to steady his play. Instead, the Kraken will go with Jason Zucker for this selection, opting for someone who is a steady presence in the locker room and could be one of the captains.
Zucker is a solid middle-six winger who would do quite well with Evgenii Dadonov or Jonathan Drouin on his opposite wing. He takes care of business well at both ends of the ice, though his goal-scoring is even more streaky than van Riemsdyk. However, he usually scores around 20 goals per season, which is great production from a second line winger, which is where I have him slotted on the full roster.
San Jose Sharks – Ryan Donato, F
With an abundance of bottom-six forwards to pick from San Jose may take a gamble on Ryan Donato. The 25-year-old winger has yet to establish himself as a solid NHL player, bouncing around from Boston to Minnesota to San Jose. With 20 goals combined in his last 112 games, there’s some offensive upside, but admittedly not much. This pick is more to take a gamble on another young player who was an early-round draft pick.
Another option that could work here would be Matt Nieto. Similar to Donato, Nieto doesn’t project much higher than as a fourth line forward, but choosing Nieto would be a chance to save some cap room. Donato is a pending RFA while Nieto is under contract through 2023 with a $700K cap hit.
Given Nieto would likely be an AHL/NHL commuter as needed while Donato has a bit more staying power at the NHL level, Donato is the pick here. But again, it’s close, and every dollar counts, Nieto could be a pick where the greater value is off the ice.
St. Louis Blues – Vince Dunn, D
This pick is practically a no-brainer. Dunn had a down year in 2021, but the underlying analytics show the poor results weren’t necessarily his fault.
Dunn does a good job of driving the play through all zones. He’s 24-years-old and can play either side comfortably. I’ve listed Dunn on the third pairing but if Klefbom is out, Dunn jumps up into the second pairing role. The only concern with picking Dunn is that he is a restricted free agent. A short-term bridge deal would make sense to prove last season was no fluke, but Dunn may want a longer deal instead. Contract negotiations could be an issue.
Still, Dunn makes too much sense to leave on the table. Ville Husso could be an option here for goaltending depth, but Dunn is almost a lock.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Alex Killorn, F
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are set to lose some serious talent in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. While there were plenty of excellent options to choose from, Killorn provided the best balance of production to cost, and having him under contract through 2023 was another important get.
Killorn has the flexibility to play center or wing. While he has played wing more recently alongside Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, and Anthony Cirelli, Killorn can comfortably play up the middle as well. He was part of the Lightning’s power play machine during the playoffs, scoring four goals and four assists with the man advantage. Playing for both sets of special teams, Killorn also played big minutes on the penalty kill.
Providing a more cost-friendly option than Yanni Gourde or Tyler Johnson while still being a top-six forward, Killorn was too good a value to pass up in this exercise. Defenseman Cal Foote was tempting as well, but the need for a solid two-way player like Killorn made him the pick instead.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Alex Kerfoot, F
Alex Kerfoot is a big get for the Kraken. After finishing an underwhelming regular season with eight goals and 15 assists, Kerfoot bounced back in the postseason, finishing second on the Maple Leafs in playoff points (one goal, five assists).
Kerfoot looked like a future 20-30 goal scorer after a couple of solid seasons with the Avalanche, but he’s yet to find that same scoring touch in Toronto. Still, at 26-years-old, Kerfoot has still been a quality center, and being forced to play behind John Tavares and Auston Matthews limited Kerfoot’s ice time, averaging roughly 14:30 per game.
With a chance to take hold of a top two center spot, Kerfoot can be an impact player right away for Seattle, and that’s what I’ll be expecting.
Don’t be surprised if the Kraken circle back to Toronto in free agency. Zach Hyman, Nick Foligno, and Frederik Andersen are all UFAs who could provide the Kraken reliable depth if they can work out a deal.
Vancouver Canucks – Braden Holtby, G
If you’ve been keeping track and penciling in a list, you may have noticed the only goaltender off the board so far was Adin Hill from Arizona. That changes with the next couple of picks, starting with Braden Holtby.
Seattle takes Holtby off Vancouver’s hands despite a down season because of his chance to be a mentor to Hill and to the Kraken’s selection from Washington (which makes extra sense given they used to be teammates). Holtby will take a backup role, but he is capable of sharing the workload as needed. His numbers have dropped off quite a bit since the Cup run, and with his third team in three seasons, things may be slow out of the gate. But Holtby still has plenty in the tank and can be a key veteran presence in the locker room.
Given the need for goaltenders at this point, Holtby had to be the pick, but if Seattle has taken another goaltender or two before getting this far down the board, Madison Bowey as a third-pairing right-shot d-man would make sense, especially with his contract secured through 2022.
Washington Capitals – Vítek Vaněček, G
The Capitals have a choice to make between Vítek Vaněček and Ilya Samsonov. They can only protect one, unless they throw a few draft picks at Seattle to stay away. Again, since I made that a rule beforehand, one of the two is exposed, and as good as they are, the exposed goaltender is out the door.
Vaněček was the starter during the playoffs while Samsonov was hurt, but Vaněček got hurt himself and did not return. Samsonov was Washington’s starting plan in net from the jump last season, especially once Henrik Lundqvist was ruled out with a heart condition.
I’m expecting Washington to keep Samsonov and work out a contract extension, making it tough for Vaněček to stick around. Based on the projected protection list, Vaněček is the best option to take in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.
Winnipeg Jets – Logan Stanley, D
Last, but certainly not least, the Winnipeg Jets have two solid players exposed for the Kraken to choose from: Logan Stanley and Mason Appleton. Appleton provides the more meaningful impact in the short-term, but Stanley is a bit more of a long-term play.
Stanley is just getting started in his NHL career. At 23, he’s played in 37 regular season and eight playoff games. However, he scored twice this year in the playoffs and finished the regular season with a goal and three assists.
However, Stanley’s biggest asset is, well, his size. Checking in at 6’7”, 228 lbs, Stanley was tied for the third tallest player in the league this season behind Tyler Myers and Zdeno Chara. Getting a defenseman that big who can cover so much of the ice in two quick strides is too good an offer to let slip away.
In this exercise, I have Stanley starting the 2021-22 season at the minors, but I don’t expect him to stay there very long.
Full Roster Projection
With all the picks entered, Seattle has their 30 picks and they’re ready to head towards the Entry Draft next Friday, where they’ll have the second overall pick behind the Buffalo Sabres. If the roster holds as is, here is a projection of the Kraken Opening Day lineup, courtesy of my friend Brett Marshall and the Sound the Foghorn Podcast team.
According to Brett’s roster generator simulation, the Kraken should expect to put up around 88 points in the standings next season with this team. Over a full 82-game season, this would have put the Kraken third in the Pacific Division with last year’s results.
Seattle’s biggest strength with this roster is in their team defense. Built similarly to teams like Montreal, Nashville, and Minnesota, this roster is well-positioned to win a bunch of 2-1 and 3-2 hockey games.
However, despite some scoring talent, overall offensive production is a concern. The Kraken would be relying on some streaky scorers in van Riemsdyk, Zucker, and Dadonov. Whichever player they take second overall likely won’t be a top-six forward at any point in the 2021 season either (and especially not if they take a defenseman with that pick).
Goaltending is steady but may not be ready for a deep playoff run. Another year or two of development for Vaněček would be ideal as Seattle builds for a Cup campaign. Adin Hill could also take over at some point, but running with a tandem isn’t always ideal for a Cup team.
Still, Seattle will be a competitive team from the get-go, which is exactly what the league wants and needs coming out of two abbreviated seasons leading to significant revenue losses. The Kraken won’t be able to punch their ticket to the playoffs next Wednesday, but they’ll be off to a darn good start.