We’re just days away from the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, as the NHL’s 32nd team will pluck 30 players off existing teams on Wednesday, July 21.
Every preexisting team needs to submit their protection lists on Saturday, with the exception of the Vegas Golden Knights, because they didn’t share in the $650 million expansion fee Seattle paid to enter the league.
Teams have the option of protecting seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goaltender, or eight skaters (regardless of position) and a goalie. First- and second-year pro players, as well as unsigned draft picks, are exempt from the process.
As for the Kraken, they are required to pick a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defencemen, and three goalies. At least 20 players picked must be already under contract for next season, with their cap hits valuing between 60-100% of the salary cap.
Seattle also has an exclusive window to speak with and potentially sign pending free agents who were left unprotected.
For simplicity, we’ll assume that no pending unrestricted free agents will be protected, and that Seattle has no interest in picking them. For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll also assume that no side deals will be completed.
We’ll find out the protection lists officially on Sunday, but until then, let’s have fun making some predictions.
I’m projecting that just four teams — Edmonton, Nashville, Tampa Bay, and Toronto — will opt to protect eight skaters and one goalie, to preserve their top-four defencemen.
After projecting who each team is likely to protect, with the help of CapFriendly’s expansion draft simulator, I’ve come up with a 30-man Kraken roster composed of 15 forwards, 12 defencemen, and three goalies. A total of 21 of the 30 players are under contract, with a $69.2 million cap hit.
That gives the Kraken over $20 million in cap space before they likely flip about a third of the roster for draft picks.
Aside from a few big-name players on expiring contracts, every skater is under the age of 30, and makes under $4 million.
Seattle Kraken expansion draft selections
The top forward on this team is Ondrej Palat, as the Tampa Bay Lightning are forced to lose an important member of their Stanley Cup core. There’s not much star power up front after Palat, though the team does have impressive depth throughout their lineup.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: Ondrej Palat
- Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Kerfoot
- Colorado Avalanche: J.T. Compher
- Philadelphia Flyers: Oskar Lindblom
- Pittsburgh Penguins: Jared McCann
- Nashville Predators: Luke Kunin
- Florida Panthers: Noel Acciari
- Columbus Blue Jackets: Kevin Stenlund
- Winnipeg Jets: Mason Appleton
- San Jose Sharks: Matt Nieto
- Vancouver Canucks: Zack MacEwen
- New York Rangers: Colin Blackwell
- Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Hagel
- Edmonton Oilers: Jujhar Khaira
- Dallas Stars: Jason Dickinson
We’ve loaded up on defence, snagging two former Norris Trophy winners in P.K. Subban and Mark Giordano.
At age 32, Subban isn’t the player he once was, and carries a massive $9 million cap hit. But is there any better player to get fans excited about hockey in Seattle? Subban is a showman and is still effective, and the Kraken have the cap space to add him. With just one year left on his contract, he could have value at the trade deadline for a contender, or perhaps he re-signs in Seattle at a reduced dollar figure.
Giordano, 37, is the elder statesman of the team, but still a legit top-four blueliner. He could be held onto or moved at the trade deadline, if not earlier.
Given the quality and quantity of defencemen selected, Giordano isn’t the only candidate to be flipped for draft picks in future trades.
- New Jersey Devils: P.K. Subban
- Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano
- New York Islanders: Nick Leddy
- Washington Capitals: Justin Schultz
- Los Angeles Kings: Matt Roy
- Anaheim Ducks: Haydn Fleury
- Boston Bruins: Jeremy Lauzon
- Carolina Hurricanes: Jake Bean
- Ottawa Senators: Victor Mete
- Buffalo Sabres: Henri Jokiharju
- Detroit Red Wings: Christian Djoos
- St. Louis Blues: Vince Dunn
Jake Allen (30) will be Seattle’s starter, with Kaapo Kahkonen (24) and Adin Hill (25) pushing for the backup spot.
- Montreal Canadiens: Jake Allen
- Minnesota Wild: Kaapo Kahkonen
- Arizona Coyotes: Adin Hill