This article will continue analysing and putting together the best options for the Seattle Kraken expansion.
I will assess each team’s choices for players to protect in the best interests of their present and future and then step in the shoes of Seattle’s management team to choose the best available players. This is barring any trades beforehand for teams attempting to move players they can’t protect and are unwilling to lose for nothing.
This instalment will feature the Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and St Louis Blues.
Having both Matt Murray and Filip Gustavsson isn’t ideal for Ottawa in the expansion draft considering their goal tending situation. One of these two will be exposed and most likely taken after looking at what they compare to among the other unprotected players in Ottawa.
They are able to protect their entire young core of players, but I hope that someone like Colin White will be selected after not playing up to his contract thus far. Murray is a more accomplished and experienced goalie, so I figure they protect him. They may be able to swing a deal to keep Gustavsson, but they will have to give up something else of worth if they are to do so.
Vitaly Abramov is an interesting choice here as well, with him being young and having potential. I don’t see Nikita Zaitsev or Colin White being drafted from Ottawa given the other unprotected young players who are perfect for an organisation starting out.
Philadelphia are losing a good player one way or another; there are just too many that they can’t protect with how they have built their roster. The question is whether they will be a forward or a goalie. There are good young options on the team currently in Nolan Patrick, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Robert Hagg or even younger in German Rubtsov and Carsen Twarynski.
This is if they can’t trade Patrick in time, which I think they are trying to do. If so, they could go the route of drafting a proven offensive defenceman in Shayne Gostisbehere, who is in need of a change in scenery. I think Scott Laughton and Justin Braun are only options if Philadelphia want to do a trade for Seattle to draft one of them over whoever else is available.
Just recently Philadelphia stated that they want to move on from Jakub Voracek and will be leaving him available in the expansion draft. I don’t know how much they will be able to get through trade for him, but they won’t have to give up a probable draft pick in order for a team to take Voracek off their hands if he gets drafted by Seattle.
One way or another, Phili is losing someone of value, but at the same time saving themselves some cap.
This will be a tough decision between protecting Jared McCann or Brandon Tanev and even Kasperi Kapanen. But since McCann showed he can play at a high level when one of their top two centres are out, they may want to keep him. A guy who can play efficiently in a bottom-six role and slot into the top six seamlessly is beneficial to have on your team, especially so young.
So then they would then have to compare Kapanen and Tanev and choose which they would rather have on the wing. Kapanen is a top-six winger with proven scoring ability, while Tanev slots in lower. It looks as if Pittsburgh may be trying to trade Jason Zucker, so that opens up a spot for another forward to be protected.
If they are looking for a veteran who can still score, they may want to go for Jeff Carter. Zach Aston-Reese is interesting and has potential, but I think Tanev is better overall and will be selected.
San Jose definitely wants to rid themselves of one of their larger contracts on the back end since they are in a transitional period and their top guys are getting pretty old. Of the three large contracts on defence, Brent Burns is the only one that doesn’t have a no-movement clause or no-trade clause, so I think they will try to trade him, and if that fails, he will have to be exposed, because they want to keep young talent Radim Simek.
The Sharks have a few young guys on forward, and it will be a tough decision whether they’ll be protected or not, but it’s between Ryan Donato, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan Gambrell and Alex True. Donato has the skill to put up points like he did when he was with Minnesota for that short period, and Balcers is probably the most highly touted of the four.
It’s hard to let True be exposed, but it might have to go that way unless they strike a deal for Seattle to take someone else along with a draft pick. By the way Donato has played for them, True might be protected and Donato traded before, hopefully pushing the hand to draft Burns and take some much-needed cap off their books.
The pick here will be pretty tough, and it’s not certain, but I think Seattle will draft Brent Burns so he can help their team right now in a larger way than a young forward can. I’m betting Seattle wants to compete right away, and this will be the way to do so.
As of now St Louis knows Vince Dunn probably won’t be a part of their future, so they’re trying to trade him. For their sake they would like to get something back for this talented young defenceman because he will more than likely be taken in the expansion draft by Seattle if not protected. There are other good options on forward since the Blues have a mix of a good young and veteran core that they would like to keep intact.
The emergence of Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou and Sammy Blais in the last couple of seasons pushes out Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford from the players they would most like to keep. Though these players should be safe in the expansion draft barring any trades, they still probably would like to not take the chance but don’t have many options.
If St Louis manages to pull off a trade to send Vladimir Tarasenko somewhere, it frees up a spot for either Barbashev or Sanford to be protected.
Next up is the final group of teams that we will take a look at for the expansion draft preview which will have the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets.