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We know each team’s protected list for the upcoming expansion draft, so before Seattle’s selections are made known on air starting at 8:00pm ET on Wednesday, we decided to weigh in on who we would take if it were up to us. Below you can see the team-by-team mock expansion draft picks made by NBC Sports EDGE hockey writers Ryan Dadoun, Corey Abbott, and Michael Finewax along with our rationale for each selection.
Ryan – Haydn Fleury. He’s a former Ron Francis first round draft pick who hasn’t developed as expected, but at the age of 25 there’s still hope. Francis might believe in him enough to give him a chance.
Corey – Haydn Fleury. There is an obvious connection with Kraken GM Ron Francis to consider from Carolina in addition to the fact that he still has room to grow as a 25-year-old blueliner. Fleury jumped to averaging 20:39 of time on ice after he was acquired from Carolina last season.
Ryan – Christian Fischer. He scored 15 goals and 33 points in 79 contests as a rookie in 2017-18, but he hasn’t been able to replicate that since. He’s still fairly young at 24 and he’d have a chance to compete for a top-six spot, making Seattle an ideal place for him to get a fresh start.
Michael – Christian Fischer. The 32nd pick in 2016, Fischer had only three goals and 11 points last season in 52 games but managed two goals and five points in his final six games.
Corey – Christian Fischer. The 24-year-old forward has one more season left on his two-year, $2 million contract. He could serve as a bottom-six energy-type player for the Kraken. The fresh start and the motivation for a new deal should give him a boost.
Ryan – Nick Ritchie. He’s coming off a strong campaign where he scored 15 goals and 26 points in 56 games while also being credited with 102 hits. He’s still young at 25 and, along with Fischer, would add size to their top-six group of forwards.
Michael – Connor Clifton. The Bruins have a few blueliners to take like Jakob Zboril and Nick Ritchie up front is also enticing but Clifton will give the Kraken solid minutes on the blueline as he managed to average over 18 minutes a game for Boston. Not a scorer, but tough defensively.
Corey – Jeremy Lauzon. Lauzon played well with the Bruins last season, while appearing in a career-high 41 games. Kraken assistant coach Jay Leach knows him well from their days together in Providence of the AHL. Lauzon could land a spot as a third-pairing, penalty killer on Seattle.
Ryan – Will Borgen. Injury issues limited him to 10 games last season and he only has 14 NHL games on his resume, but he’s a big, physical defensive defenseman with upside at the age of 24. He’s a pending RFA with arbitration rights, but given his lack of service time he might just end up agreeing a qualifying offer of $874,125.
Michael – William Borgen. There is not a lot available on Buffalo and Borgen may be worth a shot due to his low salary. Colin Miller is another option but is a lot more expensive.
Corey – Will Borgen. The 24-year-old blueliner skated in 10 games with Buffalo last season. He is still looking for his first NHL point through 14 appearances, but he had 14 blocks and 30 hits in 2020-21. Borgen, who is a restricted free agent, with arbitration rights, has some upside and probably won’t cost Seattle much to sign him.
Ryan – Mark Giordano. I’m actually not terribly enthusiastic about this pick. Giordano will turn 38 in October and he has one year left on his deal, so he doesn’t offer any long-term help and I think the veteran leadership argument is somewhat overrated because there are other, younger, intriguing veteran options out there. However, the options among the Flames’ unprotected list is otherwise barren and unless you want to avoid Giordano’s $6.75 million cap hit, there’s no reason not to take him given the alternatives.
Michael – Mark Giordano. Giordano gives the Kraken a veteran on the blueline who is just two seasons removed from winning the Norris Trophy. He is in the winter of his career but could be revitalized on a young Kraken squad.
Corey – Mark Giordano. The Calgary captain has one more year left on his contract that carries a $6.75 million cap hit. The team’s young group of defenders will benefit from Giordano’s experience and the Kraken gain a blueliner who has proven that he can log big minutes. He could also fetch a good return for Seattle at the trade deadline.
Ryan – Jake Bean. Like Fleury, Bean is another former Ron Francis first round draft pick. At the age of 23, Bean is coming off his rookie season where he scored a goal and 12 points in 42 games. Although he didn’t make much of a mark in 2020-21, he could be a big part of Seattle’s defense in the long run.
Michael – Jake Bean. Bean was taken 13th overall in 2016 and has never had a real chance to show his stuff with Carolina. He will get that chance in Seattle and could be an important member with Giordano on the power play.
Corey – Jake Bean. Bean displayed some upside during his rookie year in 2020-21 when he appeared in 42 contests. He would get a chance to continue that development with the Kraken. The 23-year-old rearguard is a restricted free agent, but he doesn’t have arbitration rights.
Ryan – Adam Gaudette. Had a strong 2019-20 campaign with 12 goals and 33 points in 59 games, but regressed to five goals and 11 points in 40 contests in 2020-21 in part because he was with Vancouver for most of the campaign where he had a minimal role. He’d get an opportunity as a middle-six forward in Seattle, especially given that he has the versatility to serve as a winger or a center.
Michael – Nikita Zadorov. The Kraken get a blueliner who would be a valued member on any NHL team. The hard-hitting six-foot, six-inch, 235 pounder will be a top-four defenseman on Seattle but will not have a lot of fantasy value offensively.
Corey – Adam Gaudette. Gaudette is a restricted free agent and he has arbitration rights, but it probably won’t take much to sign him. He has displayed spurts of offensive ability and already has 160 games of NHL experience before his 25th birthday. He could add some talent to the bottom-six forward group of the Kraken.
Ryan – Joonas Donskoi. While taking Gabriel Landeskog would make headlines, Landeskog is a UFA and probably won’t agree to a contract with Seattle. Donskoi is a solid middle-six forward who scored 17 goals and 31 points in 51 games.
Michael – Joonas Donskoi. While so many think that Landeskog is the pick here, I think Donskoi will fit the bill nicely as a top-six forward. If Seattle loves Landeskog that much, they can sign him as a UFA on July 28 and have both.
Corey – Joonas Donskoi. Donskoi has two years remaining on his current deal with an AAV of $3.9 million. He has been a productive player for the Avalanche and scored a personal best 17 goals in 51 games last year. Donskoi has reached the 30-point plateau in five of six seasons.
Columbus Blue Jackets:
Ryan – Max Domi. It’s a risky move given that he only has one year left on his contract and will enter the season injured, but he’s a 26-year-old power forward who wouldn’t look out of place on the top line. Once they get him they’ll spent the next year trying to sell him on the idea of signing with Seattle long-term and if they’re successful, he could turn into one of the faces of the franchise.
Michael – Max Domi. This is a tough pick as Domi has not done a lot in the last two seasons and has a hefty contract. We are betting on him returning to form and while he may not be the 72-point performer he was three seasons ago, a return to 50-55 points if healthy, could be in the cards.
Corey – Max Domi. Columbus is hoping that Seattle doesn’t take Domi because he is out until December following shoulder surgery and he is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. However, it may be worth the risk for the Kraken. Domi could end up being a long-time top-six forward for Seattle.
Ryan – Joel L'Esperance. There’s no one in particular I’d want to take from Dallas, so I’ll just grab L'Esperance, who has done well at the AHL level, but hasn’t really stood out in the NHL. I originally planned to take Nicholas Caamano, but I didn’t draft enough players already under contract for 2021-22 to be compliant, so I swapped him out. Both forwards are potential fourth line options who could very well end up starting the campaign in the AHL, so nothing of significance is gained or lost by making the change.
Michael – Tanner Kero. There is not a lot on the Dallas roster unless Ben Bishop is taken but with his injury history, age and the glut of good goaltenders available, taking a chance on Tanner Kero is worth it. He is on a two-way deal this season and that gives the Kraken some leeway for a year.
Corey – Blake Comeau. Comeau is a physical presence and a strong penalty killer who could fit in nicely as a fourth liner for the Kraken. He also comes with a $1 million cap hit and can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 campaign.
Detroit Red Wings:
Ryan – Troy Stecher. Nothing exciting here, but he would be a solid option on the second or third pairing. It doesn’t hurt that he was born in British Columbia and spent four seasons with Vancouver, so he has ties to the west coast.
Michael – Troy Stecher. Stecher is a solid defenseman who looked quite good for Canada at the Worlds in May. He will be a top-six blueliner with the Kraken and has some offensive upside.
Corey – Troy Stecher. Stecher has come close to logging 20 minutes of ice time per game twice before and he comes with a $1.7 million cap hit for the 2021-22 season. He is a player that could be a regular in the lineup and may be dealt at the trade deadline.
Ryan – Tyler Benson. The Oilers’ options aren’t great, so I’m highlighting a 23-year-old forward who has excelled at the AHL level but hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity with Edmonton. Maybe he’ll be able to take advantage of a new opportunity in Seattle or maybe he’ll continue to just be an AHL star but given the alternatives he’s worth the gamble.
Michael – Jujhar Khaira. Edmonton has some expensive options but the much cheaper Khaira will give the Kraken a nice bottom-six forward with some grit.
Corey – Devin Shore. Shore can play all three forward positions and he is signed for the next two seasons with only an $850,000 cap hit. He can kill penalties and work on the fourth line for the Kraken.
Ryan – Chris Driedger. Truth be told, I didn’t put much thought into this one. All signs point to the Kraken signing Driedger to a three-year deal worth about $3.5 million per season. Whether or not I agree with that is moot given that it seems to be the direction they’re going in, but for what it’s worth I do see him as a solid 1B goaltending option at worst.
Michael – Chris Driedger. All indications at the time of this writing have Driedger signing a three-year deal with Seattle at $3.5 million per season. He will definitely battle for the top spot.
Corey – Chris Driedger. It looks like Driedger will be Seattle’s pick from the Panthers. The team is reportedly closing in a three-year contract with the netminder, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Driedger was superb last season between the pipes for Florida.
Los Angeles Kings
Ryan – Kale Clague. He got a taste of the NHL last season, registering six assists in 18 games while averaging 17:12 minutes. There’s no guarantee he’ll make Seattle’s opening game roster, but at the age of 23 he has the potential to be part of the Kraken’s long-term plans on the blueline.
Michael – Blake Lizotte. The diminutive 23-year-old center had three goals and 10 points in 41 games last season with the Kings but could get a better chance to shine with Seattle.
Corey – Kale Clague. Clague appeared in 18 games with the Kings last season, while posting six assists, 24 shots, 13 blocks and nine hits. The pending RFA averaged 17:12 of ice time per contest. He also skated in 23 games in the AHL. The 23-year-old blueliner could be another solid building block for the Kraken to develop further once he is signed.
Ryan – Kaapo Kahkonen. The Kraken need to pick at least three goaltenders and even if they didn’t, having some young organizational depth in goal isn’t a bad idea. Kahkonen didn’t set the world on fire with his 2.88 GAA and .902 save percentage in 24 games last season, but goaltenders can take longer to develop than skaters so it’s too early to write him off at the age of 25. If Seattle takes him he’ll presumably start the season in the minors to get more seasoning.
Michael – Kaapo Kahkonen. A no-brainer once the Wild decided to buy out Suter and Parise, allowing them to keep Matt Dumba. Kahkonen was outstanding early in the season when Cam Talbot was injured and never had a chance to establish himself once Talbot returned and played great. He may get that chance in Seattle.
Corey – Kaapo Kahkonen. Kahkonen is waivers exempt, but he could get a chance to see action between the pipes this season with the Kraken. He played well when called upon by the Wild last season and could be groomed as the team’s goaltender of the future.
Ryan – Cale Fleury. I tried so hard to talk myself into Carey Price or even to go somewhat bold in a different direction with Jonathan Drouin, but in the end I just couldn’t justify it. Drouin’s last two seasons have been meh, especially given his current cap hit, and while Price was stunning in the playoffs, he’s been a mixed bag in recent regular seasons, is aging, has a bad contract, and there’s significant health concerns attached to him. It’s really just the part of me that wants a good story that’s pushing me to project the Kraken take either of them because when I really think of it, I have serious doubts about either of them being good options for the new franchise. So I’ll go with the comparatively boring pick in Fleury, a 22-year-old defenseman who will likely start the season in the AHL, but does have upside.
Michael – Cale Fleury. It was almost too enticing to take Carey Price but there are too many good goalies available to make it worth taking Price at his price. The Kraken should gamble on defenseman Cale Fleury who has never had a real chance to perform with Montreal.
Corey – Carey Price. The Canadiens made the expansion draft very interesting with the decision to protect Jake Allen and not Price. His $10.5 million cap hit for the next five seasons and his injury concerns are red flags, but this could be a franchise-defining move akin to Marc-Andre Fleury joining Vegas.
Ryan – Calle Jarnkrok. If I didn’t think Price or Drouin were worth it, it should come as no surprise that I’m not picking Matt Duchene or Ryan Johansen either. In fact I’d go as far as to say that Seattle should only take one of Duchene or Johansen if the Predators are willing to throw in a sweetener like a significant draft pick or prospect. Failing that, Jarnkrok is a solid middle-six forward gearing up for the final season of his affordable six-year, $12 million contract.
Michael – Calle Jarnkrok. There are a couple of expensive forwards to take in Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen but unless Nashville makes it worth their while, Jarnkrok is an excellent choice. He had 13 goals and 28 points in 49 games this season and was the NHL’s first star of the week ending March 21 with three goals and six points in four games.
Corey – Calle Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok is signed for next season with a $2 million cap hit and he is coming off a strong year. He notched 13 goals and 28 points in 49 contests. Jarnkrok is a versatile forward who has ability to play up and down the lineup as a winger or a center.
New Jersey Devils
Ryan – Andreas Johnsson. Coming off a disappointing campaign where he scored five goals and 11 points in 50 games, but he was put on the COVID protocol on Feb. 1 and while he resumed playing on Feb. 16, it sounds like he still wasn’t 100% based on his exit interview. He’s worth the gamble for Seattle as a potential bounce back candidate.
Michael – Andreas Johnsson. Only two seasons removed from a 20-goal rookie season for the Maple Leafs, Johnsson could be the William Karlsson of the Kraken as Karlsson blossomed after getting to Vegas.
Corey – Nick Merkley. Merkley is an RFA with arbitration rights, but it shouldn’t take a big offer to get him signed. He has generated three goals and nine assists in 31 games over the past two seasons. Merkley played in a career-high 27 contests last campaign. He has offensive upside and the Kraken could roll the dice with him.
New York Islanders
Ryan – Kieffer Bellows. I gave serious thought to Josh Bailey, but ultimately I decided to save some cap space here and go with the 23-year-old power forward instead. Don’t worry, we’ll be taking some bigger contracts later. As for Bellows, he hasn’t proven himself in the NHL yet, but he deserves an opportunity to win a bottom-six spot with the Kraken next season.
Michael – Kieffer Bellows. It would be easy to take a very good player like Josh Bailey or Jordan Eberle but my money is on Kieffer Bellows, a former first-round pick in 2016. Bellows finally showed his stuff in 2019-20 in the minors as he scored 22 goals in 52 games. He played sparingly in the NHL last season, scoring three times in 14 games.
Corey – Josh Bailey. Bailey has three years left on his contract at an AAV of $5 million, which could scare away the Kraken, but the idea of adding a productive playmaker to the top-six forward group could be too tempting to pass up.
New York Rangers
Ryan – Julien Gauthier. He’s been a depth forward for the Rangers, but at the age of 23 (24 on October 15), the former first round pick still might become a little more. I wouldn’t say he has a high ceiling at this point, but given the alternative options with the Rangers, he’s worth rolling the dice on.
Corey – Colin Blackwell. Blackwell had a productive year in 2020-21 with 12 goals and 22 points in 47 games. He played up and down the lineup, which could be how he is utilized with Seattle as well. Blackwell is one season away from unrestricted free agency and he has a $725,000 cap hit.
Ryan – Chris Tierney. He’s coming off a rough season where he was limited to six goals and 19 points in 55 games, but he’s been a top-six forward in the past and might step up with a fresh start in Seattle. He only has one season left on his two-year, $7 million contract, so he’s a calculated risk and if he does work out then Seattle can attempt to sign the 27-year-old forward to a decently long-term deal.
Michael – Joey Daccord. I have the Kraken taking four goaltenders with Daccord the likeliest to be headed to the minors. Daccord looked good at times before his injury and provides depth at the position. Chris Tierney should be the pick if Seattle looks elsewhere.
Corey – Joey Daccord. Daccord is signed for another two seasons with an AAV of $750,000. He is waivers exempt and could provide the Kraken with some organizational depth in the crease. Daccord played well in the AHL during the 2019-20 campaign.
Ryan – Jakub Voracek. Let’s spend some of that cap space we’ve been saving by passing on other team’s high-priced options. Voracek had nine goals and 43 points in 53 games last season and while he’s not typically thought of as a superstar, he has consistently played at a high level, averaging 0.86 points-per-game dating back to 2014-15. In fact, he ranks 19th in total points among forwards from 2014-15 through the present day. He comes with a hefty $8.25 million cap hit for each of the next three seasons, but I don’t it’s unfair given what he brings to the table.
Michael – James van Riemsdyk. The Kraken need scoring and JVR will fit the bill. He still has a big contract at $7 million per season with two-years remaining. He will start on the top line and be a force on their power play after scoring 17 goals and adding 26 assists in 56 games.
Corey – Robert Hagg. Hagg is one year away from unrestricted free agency and he only has a $1.6 million cap hit. He would be in the mix for a top-six spot on the back end for Seattle.
Ryan – Marcus Pettersson. He had a down season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, which makes his $4,025,175 cap hit for each of the next four seasons risky, but he’s just 25-years-old and he looked like a viable second pairing defenseman back in 2019-20. At the least he should be a good stopgap while some of the Kraken’s less experienced defensemen develop, but it’s also possible that he’ll end up playing a significant role with the team for years to come.
Michael – Jason Zucker. Zucker is looking to show everyone what he is capable of after a bad 2020-21 season in which he had nine goals and 18 points in 38 games. His big season was in 2017-18 when he had 33 goals and 64 points for the Wild. If the Kraken want to go cheaper, then Zach Aston-Reese is the way to go.
Corey – Brandon Tanev. Tanev still has four seasons left with an AAV of $3.5 million, which may not be ideal, but his versatility and tenacity make him an intriguing pickup for the Kraken.
San Jose Sharks
Ryan – Dylan Gambrell. He’s from Washington state, having grown up in the city of Kent, which is very close to Seattle, so he might emerge as a fan favorite given his roots. He’ll celebrate his 25th birthday in August, will only cost $1.1 million against the cap, and is okay in a third-line role, so he’s not exciting, but there’s nothing bad here either.
Michael – Dylan Gambrell. There is not much to take on San Jose. Gambrell had five goals and 12 points last season in 49 games after scoring five goals and 11 points in 50 games as a rookie.
Corey – Dylan Gambrell. Gambrell could be an interesting hometown choice for the Kraken. The Bonney Lake, Washington native averaged a career-high 16:02 of ice time in 2020-21 with the Sharks. He posted five goals and 12 points in 49 games after he had five markers and 11 points in 50 matches the previous campaign.
St. Louis Blues
Ryan – Vladimir Tarasenko. You could absolutely make comparisons between the Price and Tarasenko debates. Both are amazing players when they’re playing at the height of their game, but both also have injury concerns (in Tarasenko’s case he’s trying to restart his career after three shoulder injuries limited him over the past two seasons) and come with high cap hits. However, Tarasenko is younger at 29-years-old and not as much of a long-term gamble given that there’s only two seasons left in his deal. Plus there are reportedly already teams contacting Seattle about possibly acquiring Tarasenko from them so the Kraken might have the option of going the route of a draft-and-trade here. Personally, I’d lean towards keeping Tarasenko, but I could certainly understand Seattle flipping him if the price is good enough.
Michael – Vince Dunn. Vladimir Tarasenko is ‘sexy’ pick here but Dunn is the way to go. He gives the Kraken a solid second-pairing blueliner will the capability of quarterbacking the first or second power play. I would be very surprised if Dunn is not the pick here.
Corey – Vladimir Tarasenko. Taransenko’s shoulder issue is concerning. He has been limited to just 34 games over the past two seasons. Still, Taransenko’s offensive upside is tremendous. He also only has two more seasons left on his contract and could be flipped to another team for additional pieces.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ryan – Alex Killorn. The Lightning are offering up a bunch of good players to the Kraken. Part of me wanted to take Cal Foote because the Lightning are desperate for cap space so if you’re a rival GM there has to be some hesitation to help them alleviate that situation without pushing them for more in return, but Killorn would just do a lot for the Kraken. He’s a good top-six forward locked to a reasonable $4.45 million cap hit for each of the next two seasons and just played a big part of the Lightning’s 2021 championship run. He did miss the final four games of the Stanley Cup Final with a broken fibula, but he should be fine by the start of training camp.
Michael – Yanni Gourde. There are so many good players to choose from with the Lightning and the Kraken could squeeze them and take a much less expensive player as the Lightning are far above the cap for 2021-22. Gourde is an outstanding player and will become a top-six forward in Seattle should they decide to keep him.
Corey – Yanni Gourde. Gourde comes with a cap hit of $5,166,666 for the next four seasons, but his versatility and ability to play in all situations could make him a mainstay with the Kraken.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Ryan – Alexander Kerfoot. He’ll either be a great third-line forward or a serviceable second liner if the Kraken take him. He can chip in offensively, as he did last season with eight goals and 23 points in 56 games, play both center and the wing, and help kill penalties. His versatility makes him well worth his $3.5 million cap hit for each of the next two seasons and at the age of 26 (27 in August), he’s also young enough to be a solid member of the team well beyond the life of that contract.
Michael – Alexander Kerfoot. I think the Maple Leafs made a deal with Seattle when they plucked assistant coach Dave Hakstol to be their first head coach. Look for Kerfoot or the newly acquired Jared McCann to be the player the Kraken take. Either should be a middle-two center for Seattle.
Corey – Alexander Kerfoot. Kerfoot surpassed the 40-point plateau twice before, but his offensive numbers have taken a hit in each of his first two seasons with Toronto. Still, the versatile forward could be a solid middle-six forward for the Kraken.
Ryan – Kole Lind. He’s excelled in the AHL in the last two seasons and although he didn’t do much in his brief time with Vancouver in 2020-21, the 22-year-old forward does have a decent amount of upside. He’d likely start the season back in the AHL but could get a chance as the campaign goes as an injury replacement.
Michael – Zack MacEwen. A tough player, MacEwen will be a valued player on the fourth line, something every team could use.
Corey – Kole Lind. Lind suited up in seven games with the Canucks last season and he was productive in the AHL with eight points (five goals, three assists) in eight outings. He also had a strong year with Utica of the AHL in 2019-20. Lind, who will turn 23 in October, could continue to develop with Seattle and the pending RFA probably won’t cost much to sign this offseason.
Ryan – Vitek Vanecek. He had a solid rookie season with a 21-10-4 record, 2.69 GAA, and .908 save percentage in 37 games. A rotation of Vanecek and Driedger wouldn’t be a bad way to open their inaugural season.
Michael – Vitek Vanecek. The Capitals had to decide between Ilya Samsonov in goal or Vanecek. They chose Samsonov so Vanecek will be on his way to Seattle where he should share time with Chris Driedger.
Corey – Justin Schultz. Schultz rebounded with a strong year in 2020-21 and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He comes with a $4 million cap hit and could end up as trade bait. Whether that happens or not, he can log top-four minutes with Seattle.
Ryan – Dylan DeMelo. He’s a good defensive defenseman who played a limited role with the Jets last season, but has served as a top-four defenseman before and could find himself in that position again in Seattle.
Michael – Dylan DeMelo. A solid defenseman, DeMelo will be a force on the second pairing. He will kill penalties and should play close to 20 minutes per contest, usually in tough situations.
Corey – Dylan DeMelo. DeMelo is signed for the next three seasons at a reasonable AAV of $3 million. The right-handed blueliner could be paired with Giordano on the top combination. DeMelo can soak up penalty kill minutes as well and play a shutdown role.