In this report I will analyse and put together the best options for the Seattle Kraken expansion and why each player is chosen.
I analyse each team’s choices in players to protect in the best interest of their present and future and then step in the shoes of Seattle’s management team to choose the best available player. This is barring any trades beforehand for teams attempting to move players they can’t protect and don’t want to lose for nothing.
In the final group of teams we will look at the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, and Winnipeg Jets.
First up, Tampa Bay is in a tough spot cap-wise, and having Seattle draft the right player could help them out. They already know they won’t be able to ice the same team next season with contracts ending and players healthy, so they hope by exposing Tyler Johnson or Ryan McDonagh, the Kraken will select them if Tampa doesn’t make a deal beforehand. There’s a couple good young forwards here that are options in Taylor Raddysh, Mathieu Joseph, and Alex Barre-Boulet who could all be selected depending on what Seattle sees in each for their future.
Another under the radar guy is Cal Foote, a top prospect who should make the team in the very near future. Of the four young choices, Mathieu Joseph is the furthest along in his development as he broke out this season. Sadly with who Tampa has upfront, there is no room to protect him, and there is nobody that I would replace Joseph with on the protected list as these seven have been key to the Lightning’s success the past few seasons, unless they see a change upfront in Ondrej Palat or Alex Killorn.
I see this team being pretty much set in stone for who they are protecting since a fringe player would be Adam Brooks who is young but has barely broken. Jason Spezza, who was great for them last year but is an old veteran on a 1-year deal, has stated that he only wants to play for the Leafs. I went with the younger option here because I don’t think Spezza will be chosen anyway.
On defence the only problem the Leafs might have is choosing between Jake Muzzin or Justin Holl, but will probably go with Muzzin since he is more experienced and has a bit more talent offensively as well as defensively. Toronto will be sad to see Holl go since he’s on such a good deal for how good of a shutdown game he plays and fit in very well this year on the improving back-end. Travis Dermott is a possibility but he is streaky, though he does have potential and could do well on a new team with a better opportunity.
I could easily see Seattle selecting Braden Holtby since the other options here aren’t the greatest, and they may have some good young goalies from other teams they will more than likely select, so Holtby can hold down the net while the others come into their own.
Highmore won’t be a guy who makes the team right away, but may in the future and it could be worth taking the chance on him over an ageing goalie with one year left on his more expensive contract. Vancouver could easily swap out Tyler Motte and protect Highmore as well which may change the decision Seattle has to make. Another move that Vancouver might make that I didn’t account for is leaving Tyler Myers exposed in hopes to move that money and protect Madison Bowey instead.
The Canucks could make it tough on Seattle so that their hand is almost forced to take a larger contract from them, but I don’t see Seattle helping out a future division rival in that sense, especially on one the rise. Holtby’s pedigree will be what gets him taken off of Vancouver, and with Demko in net still, they should be fine with that so they can sign more help.
There are lots of decent options from Seattle to choose from on Washington’s unprotected list. With the long awaited breakout season by Daniel Sprong, I figure the Capitals will want to keep him around. I guarantee they bring back Alex Ovechkin, and Kuznetsov could be moved soon or after which may change up the board.
There are a lot of solid defence options, but with Washington having both Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek eligible to be drafted, they can only go with one. Samsonov has been their guy in waiting for a few years and was going to be their #1 this year if he hadn’t missed time with Covid related illnesses.
Vanecek stepped up and made it harder for them so maybe they will be able to pull off a late deal to have Seattle select someone else so they can see what they have in both goalies before they make a final decision. But if nothing happens, Vanecek is the easy option for one of the futures in goal.
There are four talented forwards that Winnipeg has to decide between protecting only two of them with the others being locks. It’s between Andrew Copp, Mason Appleton, Adam Lowry, and Jensen Harkins. Of the 4, I think Appleton is the player they will have the highest possibility of protecting and Harkins the lowest since he hasn’t shown that much yet. It then comes down to Copp and Lowry.
A difficult decision because Lowry just signed a deal with the Jets but Copp was elevated to a higher line for more time of the year and showed he can score goals. Both of them together formed ⅔ of the best third line in the league this season so it will be hard to break that up. It can really go either way between these two being protected, but I’ll give the edge to Copp.
There are some solid options on defence that will be left unprotected, but with the talent that will be available upfront, Seattle can’t not draft a forward that will slot nicely into the line-up to start the season.