After battling it out all season long, Toronto’s Alex Kerfoot and Montréal’s Jake Allen could soon be teammates on the NHL’s newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken, via the upcoming expansion draft. (John Mahoney/Montreal Gazette)

For the second time in four years, there will be an NHL expansion draft. Six days from today, the Seattle Kraken will draft their inaugural team. It’s an exciting (or scary) time for every single fanbase unless you’re Vegas, who is exempt from the process. Then it’s just exciting.

We’ve been hard at work chronicling the build-up to this historical moment, which is just the second expansion draft across the four major sports since 2000. We projected the protection lists for every team in the East, Central, West, and North divisions. (I’ve actually made a few changes to my protection lists here and there; I’ll note them when I get to the applicable teams). Now it’s time for all of that hard work to bear fruit in the form of this mock expansion draft.

Here are the ground rules that Seattle will be working with. The Kraken will take exactly one player from each of the thirty teams participating (not counting potential side trades). Teams will submit their protection lists on Saturday, July 17; they will be released to the public one day later. On Saturday, the NHL will enter a transaction freeze; teams are only eligible to make trades with Seattle from 1 p.m. on the 17th through 10 a.m. on July 22.

The Kraken will have an exclusive window from July 18 to July 21 to make their picks. If Seattle signs a restricted free agent from a team during this window, they will not have to surrender draft pick compensation subsequent with offer sheets (since that type of contract won’t be considered an offer sheet). Seattle can also sign an exposed UFA during this time period, but doing so would count as their selection from the player’s current team.

The Kraken must select at least 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders; that leaves four picks for Seattle to use as they please positional-wise. Seattle must select at least 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 season. Their roster must be between 60% ($48.9 million) and 100% ($81.5 million) of the NHL’s salary cap. Seattle cannot buy out any players they select until at least the 2022 offseason.

One last thing before we get underway: this article would not be possible without the wonderful Expansion Draft tool at CapFriendly. Their Expansion Draft FAQ was a huge resource in putting together the aforementioned guide. Make sure to check them out and make your own protection lists/draft your own Seattle Kraken team (once you are done reading this article, of course).

Keep in mind that the Kraken are not necessarily looking for the best player from every team; they’re trying to build a roster. Not only are they considering ability, but also team fit, age, and contract when making their selections. It’s likely not every player will even play for the Kraken; ten of Vegas’ thirty selections never dressed for one game for the Golden Knights. They were either traded, walked as free agents, or never made it above the AHL. There’s obviously a ton of options for Seattle to make; this mock expansion draft is proof of that. But let’s not waste any more time (or words) and get to Seattle’s prospective picks.

Anaheim Ducks: D Haydn Fleury

2020-21 (47 GP w/ CAR/ANA): 3 G, 1 A, 53.26% Corsi, 50.04% Expected Goals For (xGF)

Fleury hasn’t lived up to the hype of being taken #7 by Carolina in the 2014 NHL Draft. But he is a solid third-pair defenseman with minimal offensive upside that can kill penalties. At 25, there’s probably still hope he can maybe become a bit better than he is now. But there’s nothing wrong with being a solid 5th or 6th defenseman, especially at just $1.3 million and an RFA when that deal expires in 2022.

Also Considered: Kevin Shattenkirk is probably a better defenseman than Fleury right now. But he’s 32, coming off a down year offensively (which is his main calling card), and makes $3.9 million for two more years; I’ll take Fleury’s youth and financial flexibility. Adam Henrique at a 30-goal pace in 2019-20 but fell off so much last year that he and his massive contract cleared waivers. Anthony Stolarz is an intriguing backup/third goalie possibility, but there are probably better options.

Arizona Coyotes: RW Tyler Pitlick

2020-21 (38 GP): 6 G, 5 A, 47.09% Corsi, 47.13% xGF

Pitlick should be a perfect plug-and-play option on Seattle’s fourth line. He’s an outstanding forechecker and solid penalty killer who can chip in 10-15 goals and 25 points. Not a headline player, but you need one or two of the Pitlick’s of the world to have a well-rounded team.

Also Considered: Johan Larsson can fill a similar role, plus he’s a center. Adin Hill is a solid young goalie with potential that could easily be chosen here.

Boston Bruins: LW Jake DeBrusk

2020-21 (41 GP): 5 G, 9 A, 51.78% Corsi, 54.3% xGF

This seems like a win-win selection. DeBrusk is a skilled player with 20 goal potential and is only 24; Seattle will love that. He struggled mightily this year in Boston to the point of being healthy scratched; they’ll be happy to have his $3.675 million off the books. His raw underlying numbers look good, but they’re actually some of the worst on a very strong Bruins team. But there’s potential here; DeBrusk scored at about a half-a-point-per-game pace in his first three NHL seasons. Offense is much harder to find in this expansion draft than defense or goaltending, which makes DeBrusk a pretty obvious pick if exposed.

Also Considered: Ondrej Kase was once regarded as a no-question top-six scoring option. Injuries and underperformance have plagued his time in Boston, meaning the RFA could be a nice buy-low option. Boston also has a trio of solid young defenders will NHL experience available in Connor Clifton, Jérémy Lauzon, and Jakub Zboril. Lauzon is probably the best of the group and seems the most trusted by Bruce Cassidy’s coaching staff.

Buffalo Sabres: D Colin Miller

2020-21 (48 GP): 4 G, 8 A, 47.05% Corsi, 43.57% xGF

Miller has a chance to make some history, joining the exclusive club of players to be selected in multiple expansion drafts (Vegas took him from Boston in 2017). Miller was dynamite in that first year in Vegas, scoring a career-high 41 points, the most on Vegas’ backend. But he fell out of favor in year two and was shipped to Buffalo, where things have taken a turn for the worst as they do for seemingly every player the Sabres acquire these days. On the right team, I like Miller as a sheltered third-pair defenseman and power-play quarterback. He does make $3.785 million, but only for one more season.

Also, a very brief note. The Sabres only have one goaltender under contract: Dustin Tokarski. Teams must expose at least one goalie under control or club control in 2021-22. So I’m actually going to expose him to protect a pending UFA in Linus Ullmark. Weird stuff here, though it doesn’t really matter; Tokarski is 27 and, at this point is just an AHL goaltender. There’s no way Seattle is taking him, and it’s not like the Sabres are dependent on keeping him.

Also Considered: If Seattle doesn’t want to take on Miller’s cap hit, 23-year old Rasmus Asplund is a low-risk depth forward option with 14 points in 57 career NHL games. One of which kind of made me lose my mind back in April.

Calgary Flames: C Matthew Phillips

2020-21 (30 GP – AHL): 8 G, 13 A (1 NHL GP – 0 PTS)

This is where that whole “Seattle isn’t taking the best player from every team” concept comes into play. I’m banking on Chris Tanev’s contract, which has 3 years left and lasts until Tanev is 34, scares Seattle off. Phillips is a former 6th round pick who has scored at about a point-per-game pace in the AHL two years running. He’s ready for an NHL opportunity, and the Kraken could benefit from giving him that shot.

Also Considered: Tanev’s excellent first year in Calgary may be enough for Seattle to take the risk. He’s an excellent shut-down defender and penalty killer. Oliver Kylington is a former top prospect who can move the puck and could be a similar pick to Haydn Fleury. Tyler Parsons is a 23-year old goaltender without much professional success; the only way Seattle takes him is if they decide Calgary is the best path towards reaching the three-goalie minimum. I’m only mentioning Parsons because of his age and draft pedigree (2015 2nd round pick, which is pretty high for a goalie).

Carolina Hurricanes: LW Warren Foegele

2020-21 (53 GP): 10 G, 10 A, 55.09% Corsi, 56.04% xG

As much as I wanted to take Brady Skjei here, it just isn’t worth it considering his contract and the other options on D available. So let’s go with Foegele, who the Canes may have trouble coming to terms with on a new deal if he remains in Raleigh (he’s an RFA). The 25-year old is a quality bottom-sixer with stellar underlying numbers, a bit of an offensive touch, and averages over a minute of PK time per game. That versatility makes him a nice potential fit in Seattle.

Also, one quick note: I only listed six forwards when mocking Carolina’s protection list. I forgot to include Nino Niederriter.

Also Considered: Skjei delivered a much better year in terms of underlying numbers in his first full season in Carolina. But his track record is concerning (other than a solid rookie year in 2016-17), and his offensive upside isn’t as high as once thought. Jake Gardiner has a high offensive upside but also a pricey contract, concerning injury history, and cleared waivers this past season. Morgan Geekie is a 22-year old forward with some skill and already has 36 NHL games of experience.

Chicago Blackhawks: D Calvin De Hann

2020-21 (44 GP): 1 G, 9 A, 49.22% Corsi, 47.27% xG

Speaking of protection list do-overs, I’d probably protect 22-year old Brandon Hagel instead of Brett Connolly, a solid goal-scorer in 2018-19 and 2019-20 who had a dismal season last year and carries a fairly big cap hit. Regardless, I’m going with De Hann, someone who could be flipped right after the expansion draft, something Vegas did plenty of in 2017. That’s not anything close to a sure thing, just a gut feeling. He’s been a solid defensive defenseman dating back to his Islanders days and would be changing sweaters for the fourth time in the last four years. And he was basically the only Blackhawks defenseman whose underlying numbers weren’t completely horrible.

Also Considered: Connolly was brutal last year, but he scored 15+ goals in each of the four prior years, including 41 combined in 2018-19 and 2019-20. With the right sweetener involved, I could see Seattle taking him on. Ryan Carpenter is a generic but respectable fourth-line option; in fact, he was the only Blackhawk with a Corsi For% above 50% (or break-even) last year. Nikita Zadorov is a physical defender with poor underlying numbers, the type of player I can’t see Seattle taking but has enough tenure to warrant a mention. And Subban is a former first-round pick who has been fine enough as a backup in three of the last four seasons (his .890 save percentage in Vegas in 2019-20 wasn’t good enough, necessitating his trade to Chicago for Robin Lehner).

Colorado Avalanche: RW J.T. Compher

2020-21 (48 GP): 10 G, 8 A, 55.36% Corsi, 57.17% xGF

A team as deep as Colorado isn’t going to get off unscathed, though Colorado comes pretty close. Not because Compher isn’t a good player — he is. But a healthy dose of pending UFAs at the right time nearly allows them to protect all of their impact players. Thankfully for Seattle, that isn’t the case, and the team should be thrilled to come away with a solid middle-sixer in the 26-year old Compher. Last year was a rough one; his offense dropped off, and his underlying numbers were the worst of any Colorado regular (which shows just how dominant Colorado was this year). Compher is good at limiting chances when he’s on the ice and scored at a 40-point pace in 2018-19 and 2019-20. You can find worse players than that.

Also Considered: Surprisingly, there’s really only one other contender here: defenseman Ryan Graves. The NHL’s plus/minus leader from 2019-20 (lol) is a solid third-pair defenseman but is pricey ($3.167 million) and doesn’t separate himself from most of Seattle’s other defensive options. And not to pour salt on the wound, but he needs to work on getting shots through.

Columbus Blue Jackets: D Dean Kukan

2020-21 (35 GP): 1 G, 4 A, 46.64% Corsi, 47.84% xGF

The 28-year old has been a bit of an analytical darling and clocks in at a manageable $1.65 million for the upcoming season. The Blue Jackets have better Corsi and xG marks when Kukan is on the ice than not. There’s not much else to say here; he’ll likely make a great 6th or 7th defenseman for the Kraken.

Additionally, my condolences to the family, friends, and teammates of Columbus goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, who tragically passed away a week ago. He was 24 years old. Rest in peace, Kivi.

Also Considered: Eric Robinson and Kevin Stenlund are respectable fourth-line/depth options. Scott Harrington has over 200 NHL games on his resume but lacks the strong possession profile of Kukan. Ditto for 24-year old Gabriel Carlsson, except he has significantly less NHL experience than Harrington.

Dallas Stars: C Jason Dickinson

2020-21 (51 GP): 7 G, 8 A, 55.97% Corsi, 57.06% xGF

A year ago, it seemed like Anton Khudobin was a lock to be selected here. But the 35-year old had a down year, making his contract ($3.33 million for 2 more years) a bit of a gamble. Plus, there are lots of quality goalie options available. Instead, Dickinson, a 6’2” center with stellar underlying numbers and a capable penalty killer, becomes the logical selection.

Also Considered: Nick Caamano took a step forward in the AHL in 2019-20 (24 points in 36 games) and has some NHL experience at just 22. And Khudobin is just one year removed from leading the NHL with a .930 save percentage. Maybe Seattle bets on a bounce-back; after all, Francis is familiar with Khudobin from their time in Carolina.

Detroit Red Wings: D Troy Stetcher

2020-21 (44 GP): 3 G, 8 A, 45.16% Corsi, 45.57% xGF

As I was mulling over Detroit’s protection list, it surprised me I couldn’t find a spot to retain Stetcher. He’s certainly not a world-beater, but a decent two-way right-handed defenseman at $1.8 million seems like a pretty easy pick. Yes, Stetcher’s underlying numbers look bleak at first glance, but he actually grades out positively relative to his fledgling teammates. And it’s not like you’re gonna find much better from a rebuilding club like the Wings.

Also Considered: Adam Erne was tied for first on the Wings in scoring last year… tying a career-high 20 points (in 45 games). Evgeny Svechnikov (brother of Andrei) was once considered an excellent prospect. But he hasn’t been able to bring his scoring touch to the NHL. At 24 years old, all hope isn’t lost, but time is running out. Kaiden Fulcher is a 22-year old goalie, which automatically puts him on my radar despite his poor stats.

Edmonton Oilers: LW Dominik Kahun

2020-21 (48 GP): 9 G, 6 A, 48.34% Corsi, 47.23% xGF

I originally projected Caleb Jones to be taken here, but he’s since been dealt. So Kahun is the backup plan. He scored at roughly a half-point-per-game rate in 2019-20, has some skill, can play up or down in the lineup, and is cheap. I think there’s potential for him to be a strong contributor to the Kraken.

Also Considered: Zack Kassian took a step back offensively after a career-high 34 points in 59 games in 2019-20. Considering he won’t be playing with Connor McDavid if he goes to Seattle, I think reaching that ceiling is a stretch. His physicality is still there, but that alone isn’t worth the $3.2 million price tag through 2024. Seeing how poorly the Kyle Turris reclamation project went in Edmonton probably means Seattle won’t go down the same path.

And then there’s Oscar Klefbom, who I now don’t think the Oilers are going to protect now that they’ve acquired Keith. Klefbom is a top pair player when healthy but missed all of last season with shoulder surgery, and his future is clouded. Since he’s only got one year left on his deal, I don’t think the Oilers protect him (or Seattle takes him), but I’m obviously not privy to the specifics of his injury situation.

Florida Panthers: D Radko Gudas

2020-21 (30 GP): 0 G, 10 A, 56.37% Corsi, 56.03% xGF

The Keith Yandle buyout means the Panthers will likely protect my original choice here in Markus Nutivaara. So it’s on to plan B in another defenseman in Radko Gudas. Gudas is a physical blue-liner who can throw the body and kill penalties. But other than in a weird 2019-20 season with Washington, his underlying numbers have been strong over the course of his career. He’s not a perfect player; moving the puck is probably Gudas’ biggest weak point. But he’s a very solid third-pair option who can probably be as high in your lineup as a number four.

Also Considered: Noel Acciari and Lucas Wallmark are physical bottom-sixers, and Acciari scored 20 goals in 2019-20. Gustav Forsling looked great filling in for Aaron Ekblad on the top pair down the stretch; a good chunk of that is thanks to Mackenzie Weegar, but the 25-year old Forsling is a decent player in his own right and a cheaper option than Gudas.

Los Angeles Kings: C Blake Lizotte

2020-21 (41 GP): 3 G, 7 A, 50.2% Corsi, 46.46% xGF

LA won’t have to give up any top prospects to Seattle (unless they want to for some reason), but they could lose a solid youngish player with plausible upside. Lizotte fits this billing to perfection. He has less NHL experience than some of the Kings’ other options. But he jumped right to the NHL from the NCAA’s St. Cloud State in 2019-20; he’s a solid playmaker who could become a good middle-sixer soon. And he’s only 23 with a dirt-cheap cap hit and several years of club control left.

Also Considered: Andreas Athanasiou and Trevor Moore are both 26-year old forwards coming off 23-point seasons (though Athanasiou only played in 47 games). Athanasiou also had a 30-goal, 54-point season with Detroit in 2018-19; he definitely has some skill. Kale Clague is a 23-year old defenseman with some potential. Matt Luff is a 24-year old winger with some size (6’22”) and 17 points in 64 career games.

Minnesota Wild: D Carson Soucy

2020-21 (50 GP): 1 G, 16 A, 42.79% Corsi, 49.45% xGF

The stunning buyouts of Zach Parise and (especially) Ryan Suter completely change Minnesota’s plans. Here’s my updated prediction list with those two out of the fold:

Forwards: Mats Zuccarello (NMC), Kevin Fiala, Marcus Foligno, Jordan Greenway, Nick Bjugstad, Ryan Hartman, Joel Eriksson Ek

Defensemen: Jared Spurgeon (NMC), Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin (NMC)

Goaltender: Cam Talbot

As you can see, I’m also flipping my goalie protection from Kaapo Kahkonen to Talbot. Kahkonen did win AHL goalie of the year in 2019-20 and was a decent NHL backup last year. But the Wild appear to be in win-now mode and losing Talbot after a strong regular season and excellent playoff showing would be too tough of a pill to swallow. I’ve now got Seattle taking Soucy, a solid third-pair defender with consecutive seasons featuring an on-ice goals for percentage over 60% who is good at limiting opposing offenses.

Also Considered: Victor Rask scored a respectable 23 points last year. But that was largely a product of playing about 60% of his 5v5 minutes with Kirill Kaprizov, who did much better away from Rask than with him. And did I mention Rask makes $4 million? That’s too much. Kahkonen’s profile is intriguing, but Soucy is an intriguing option, and there are other goaltenders from the taking.

Montréal Canadiens: G Jake Allen

2020-21 (29 GP): .907 SV%, -0.7 Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA)

As much as I’d love to take Brett Kulak here, we’re going to need a goaltender for Seattle eventually. Allen didn’t have an amazing first year in Montréal playing behind Carey Price. But from Jordan Binnington’s first NHL start (1/7/19) to the end of his time in St. Louis, Allen was 4th in the NHL with a .925 save percentage (excluding playoffs). Get him in the right groove, and Allen can be legitimately excellent. Making him your full-time starter isn’t a smart idea, but Allen could either be a really good 1B or decent 1A for Seattle.

Also Considered: Shea Weber is still performing at a top-pair level. But a 35-year old with five years left on their contract at over $7.8 million is a hard pass. And that’s not even getting into his apparently very scary injury situation. Kulak is a bit of an analytics darling who can excel in a third-pairing role. Cale Fleury is a 22-year old defender with limited offensive upside but is still a decent prospect.

Nashville Predators: LW Nick Cousins

2020-21 (52 GP): 5 G, 13 A, 50.56% Corsi, 49.9% xGF

The Viktor Arvidsson trade means Nashville gets to protect my original selection (Rocco Grimaldi), so it’s on to plan B. Cousins is a shifty third-line scoring option who draws a lot of penalties; since 2015-16, he ranks T-30th in the NHL with 128 penalties drawn and T-13th with a +0.7 penalty differential/per 60 in that span. I liked Nick Cousins the player early in his career in Philadelphia. But it’s at least worth mentioning Cousins was charged with sexual assault back when he played in the OHL during his junior hockey days (the charges were eventually dropped).

Also Considered: Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen are solid players but are massively overpaid at $8 million each (Duchene through 2026, Johansen through 2025) and coming off disappointing seasons. Colton Sissons is a very solid bottom-sixer, but having a player like that signed for five years at nearly $3 million is a bit of a risk. Yakov Trenin and Alexandre Carrier are 24-year olds who showed promise down the stretch this year. Matt Benning and Mark Borowiecki are decent third-pair options signed for one more year; Borowiecki, in particular, is known for his physicality if that’s up your alley.

New Jersey Devils: C Michael McLeod

2020-21 (52 GP): 9 G, 6 A, 45.9% Corsi, 49.13% xGF

Another protection list change here: I’m swapping the feisty Nathan Bastian for another 23-year old — Janne Kuokkanen, who scored 25 points in 50 games on a Devils team that ranked 26th in goals this year. Instead, I’ll go with another 23-year old in McLeod, who the Devils drafted 12th overall in 2016. Former first-round picks always draw attention; you never know when you’ll find the next 2021 stretch-run Sam Bennett or 2018-19 Brett Connolly, after all. Plus, you can never have too many centers, especially ones that are young and cheap. McLeod checks both boxes and is at least a viable depth option with the chance to become a bit more than that in the future.

Also Considered: Nick Merkley is a 2015 1st round pick with 10 points in 27 games who was part of the return for Taylor Hall. You have to think P.K. Subban is going to bounce back at least a little bit from his awful first two years in New Jersey. But a $9 million cap hit is way too much for the 32-year old, despite his pedigree and name recognition.

New York Islanders: D Nick Leddy

2020-21: 2 G, 29 A, 46.54% Corsi, 48.37% xGF

Leddy’s bounce-back year, admirably filling the role of Devon Toews, makes New York’s third protection spot a tougher decision than once thought. He’s looked like a different player since the bubble, one much closely resembling his glory days in Chicago and first two years on the Islanders before declining hard over the last two full regular seasons. I’m still protecting the younger, cheaper Scott Mayfield over Leddy, but either would be a nice addition for the Kraken. Leddy is a solid offensive player who will probably be Seattle’s PP1 quarterback (a role Kevin Shattenkirk might’ve filled if I selected him). His cap hit is high ($5.5 million), and his overall underlying numbers weren’t great this past year. But Leddy’s got enough in the tank to be worth the price of admission for Seattle.

Also Considered: Kieffer Bellows is the next best option if Seattle doesn’t want to bite on Leddy’s cap hit. He’s a goal-scoring center that is cheap, and let me know if you’ve heard this before, but he was a first-round pick in 2016. Michael Dal Colle, taken 5th overall in 2014, also has some skill and 111 NHL games to his name.

New York Rangers: C Brett Howden

2020-21 (42 GP): 1 G, 6 A, 46.54% Corsi, 48.37% xGF

If you read my analysis of the Rangers protection list, you’re probably wondering why I’ve got Seattle taking a player I was so underwhelmed by in Howden. Yeah, his NHL career has been underwhelming so far. But like McLeod, he’s a 23-year old center drafted in the 1st round in 2016. And it’s not like the Rangers have many other options to pick from.

Also Considered: Julien Gauthier — you guessed it, a 2016 1st round pick (and therefore 23 years old) is the only other viable option. He’s not a center but a tenacious and physical winger who could be a nice fourth-liner if he pans out.

Ottawa Senators: C Chris Tierney

2020-21 (55 GP): 6 G, 13 A, 47.48% Corsi, 41.97% xG

Tierney is a player whose selection here is largely based on reputation, especially after a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. At his best, he’s a very useful middle-six center with a few forty-point seasons to his name. But his offense and underlying numbers tanked last season as Tierney never dug out of the early season woes that plagued everyone in a Senators sweater. He seems like a worthy reclamation-ish project for the Kraken to take on for one year at $3.5 million.

Also Considered: Austin Watson could be a physical presence on the fourth line. But he also has terrible underlying numbers and is only three years removed from being suspended 18 games for domestic assault. 24-year old Jonathan Davidsson was a key piece of the Matt Duchene trade to Columbus in 2019 but hasn’t been able to find a full-time NHL role yet. Matt Murray does have two Stanley Cups to his name, but he’s been extremely below average the last two years and carries a massive contract ($6.25 million for three years).

Philadelphia Flyers: LW James van Riemsdyk

2020-21: 17 G, 26 A, 53.43% Corsi, 52.43% xGF

I’m not going to predict side deals in this exercise, but if one of Philly’s three big money options (van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, Shayne Gostisbehere) is taken, there’s a decent chance there’s one involved here. I actually think the hiring of former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol helps Shayne Gostisbehere’s chances of being selected; his dynamite rookie year in 2015-16 and Norris-level play in 2017-18 both came under Hakstol’s watch. But if Seattle wants to be a solid team right out of the gate, they’ll need some scoring. Van Riemsdyk is an excellent offensive weapon, especially at the net-front on the power-play. And he’s not an empty-calorie goal-scorer; JVR has put up outstanding underlying numbers each of the last two years. The $7 million price tag is expensive, but two years isn’t an insane term and JVR is good enough to bite the bullet.

And a bonus for you Flyers fans out there. My Flyers expansion draft preview from last summer is still pretty relevant; feel free to check it out for some Philly-specific insight.

Also Considered: Voracek was tied with van Riemsdyk for the team lead with 43 points in 2020-21. But JVR is a better goal scorer, cheaper, under contract for one less year, and has a much better advanced stats profile. Shayne Gostisbehere was once thought of as an elite offensive defenseman and delivered a solid 2020-21 season after hitting rock bottom the previous year. Then again, he cleared waivers in March, so I really don’t see how Seattle takes him without a sweetener. If Seattle doesn’t want to take on a big contract here, there are two other options. Justin Braun was Philly’s most consistent defenseman down the stretch this year and is a solid #5 who kills penalties. Nicolas Aubé-Kubel regressed heavily this year. But in 2019-20, he scored at a 36-point pace with strong underlying numbers and was a great forechecker.

Pittsburgh Penguins: C Teddy Blueger

2020-21 (43 GP): 7 G, 15 A, 47.44% Corsi, 48.16% xGF

What’s a good hockey team without a Latvian, am I right? Blueger matched his 2019-20 point total this season in 22 fewer games, all while being an excellent defensive center who kills penalties. He had a breakthrough season that honestly could lead him to be protected over the more expensive Jason Zucker, who hasn’t fit in as well as hoped since arriving from Minnesota at the 2020 trade deadline. But since Blueger’s underlying numbers weren’t amazing and the Penguins have plenty of centers (and could always add another depth one in free agency or via trade), I’ll stick with Blueger here.

Also Considered: Brandon Tanev has fit in surprisingly well since arriving in the 2019 offseason from Winnipeg, adding physicality and some offense to the Pens’ third-line. But his contract (4 years left at $3.5 million with a 10-team no-trade list) is probably a non-starter. Jeff Carter was one of Pittsburgh’s most productive forwards down the stretch and in the playoffs. But he is 36 years old; there will probably be a younger option who’s just as good available (like Blueger). Zach Aston-Reese is a stellar defensive fourth-liner. Mark Friedman is a 25-year old feisty defenseman who can move the puck well. Casey DeSmith has a career .916 save percentage in 56 games. But he was kicked off his college hockey team at the University of New Hampshire in 2014 after being charged with assault and resisting arrest.

San Jose Sharks: LW Rüdlofs Balcers

2020-21 (41 GP): 8 G, 7 A, 47.75% Corsi, 54.62% xGF

Another protection list change: I’m swapping Rüdlofs Balcers for the more proven 24-year old center Dylan Gambrell, if only because the Sharks seem to be intent on trading him later in the offseason for immediate help. It doesn’t really matter here as the Sharks aren’t going to be losing a quality player. So instead, they lose Balcers, who scored 17 points this year and were great in the AHL during 2019-20. His Expected Goals For% ranked second on the Sharks (min. 5 games played).

Also Considered: Brent Burns has an albatross contract and has been declining in recent years, though he still puts up a lot of points. Alex True is young (23) and listed as a center. He had solid AHL numbers in 2019-20, though his brief NHL stint didn’t go so well.

St. Louis Blues: C Ivan Barbashev

2020-21 (38 GP): 5 G, 7 A, 48.89% Corsi, 45.16% xGF

The Blues are almost certainly losing a 25-year old or so solid bottom-sixer in this draft. It’s just a question of which one. It’s the hockey version of kiss, marry, kill; only here, we’re playing protect, expose but keep, and lose to Seattle. Of St. Louis’ three players who meet the aforementioned profile, I’m going Oskar Sundqvist, Samuel Blais, and Ivan Barbashev, in that order. Though if they don’t receive a lot of trade interest for Vladimir Tarasenko, maybe they expose his massive $7.5 million cap hit and are content with the Kraken taking their disgruntled sniper. Barbashev will give you 30-35 points, can play center or the wing, and is only 25 on a perfectly reasonable contract. He also averaged nearly two minutes of PK time this season. I’m sold.

Also Considered: Samuel Blais is a very similar player to Barbashev. But he’s a winger, not a center, and I like Barbashev’s upside a little bit more. Justin Faulk was once a legit top-pair defender for Carolina but has struggled since coming to St. Louis in 2019 and carries a massive extension. Marco Scandella is solid, but three years at $3.75 million for a 31-year old who tops out as a number four defenseman isn’t ideal. There are also a pair of young, cheap goaltenders in Evan Fitzpatrick and Ville Husso, who the Blues will expose.

Tampa Bay Lightning: D Cal Foote

2020-21 (35 GP): 1 G, 2 A, 50.47% Corsi, 52.02% xGF

It would be so easy to take one of Tampa’s middle-upper-priced veterans and help the team slowly work their way out of cap hell. But I think Ron Francis is smart enough to make the Bolts squirm a little. Maybe Tampa protects the young Foote over Erik Cernak, especially since Foote had a solid rookie year (though he didn’t play at all in the playoffs). Son of former NHL defender Adam Foote, Cal was the club’s first-rounder in 2017 with a bit of offensive potential that hasn’t translated as much to the pro game. But at just 22, there’s plenty of time; I could see Tampa Bay making a side deal to protect the young blue-liner though, as the cap-strapped Bolts need cost-controlled youth as much as anyone.

Also Considered: I decided to swap Alex Killorn out of my protection list, replacing him with Yanni Gourde, who is younger and a center. Killorn has been a key support piece in Tampa’s top-nine and power-play for years, finishing fifth in the entire NHL (and the Lightning) in playoff scoring. But the 31-year old is under contract for two more years at a pricey $4.45 million. And he likely won’t produce as much away from Tampa Bay’s stars. Tyler Johnson used to be an impact scorer for the Lightning, but his offense has fallen off in recent years to the point where he’s been relegated to Tampa’s fourth line. Not to mention he and his $5 million cap hit for the next three years have cleared waivers multiple times in the last year.

Looking elsewhere upfront, Seattle could guarantee* themselves a Cup win by taking Pat Maroon, adding physicality to their fourth-line (*guaranteed Cup win is not actually guaranteed). 24-year old Mathieu Joseph is probably a better depth option given his age, however.

The other big-money option is Ryan McDonagh, who had an excellent playoff for Tampa and is still a solid top-four defenseman. But at 32, his best days are likely (or soon will be) behind him… and he’s under contract for five more years at $6.75 million. No thanks. Seattle could always spring for Jan Rutta, who played alongside Victor Hedman during the playoffs. H’s better than Foote now, but the younger, cheaper option in Foote seems like a much better choice.

Toronto Maple Leafs: C Alexander Kerfoot

2020-21: 8 G, 13 A, 50.23% Corsi, 51.19% xGF

Justin Holl (protected) and Travis Dermott are intriguing blue-line options, but Seattle needs a quality center in the worst way. Kerfoot’s an extremely versatile player; he scored 85 points in his first two years in Colorado and was a key penalty killer at center and the wing in Toronto’s middle-six over the last two years. The 26-year old is under contract for two more years at $3.5 million; he’s probably going to be Seattle’s number one center, barring a blockbuster trade for someone like Jack Eichel.

Also Considered: Wayne Simmonds is still a capable, physical bottom-sixer, but it feels like Toronto is confident he won’t be poached, given the fact they’ve already extended him. Pierre Engvall can play center or the wing and is a capable bottom-sixer. 24-year old Travis Dermott is the most intriguing option this side of Kerfoot. Granted, there’s not a ton of offensive upside there. But Dermott can make a good first pass, and his underlying numbers are strong over the course of his young career.

Vancouver Canucks: G Braden Holtby

2020-21 (21 GP): .889 SV%, -13 GSAA

Quick note: I forgot about Tanner Pearson’s extension when making Vancouver’s protection list, only exposing him because I figured he’d be a pending UFA. Obviously, that’s no longer the case, so he takes Tyler Motte’s spot. Ultimately, a dicey first (and potentially only) season in Vancouver makes this pick less of a slam dunk than it was a year ago. But with just one year left on his deal, taking Holtby qualifies as a low-risk, high-reward move for the Kraken. The Vezina trophy-winning form of Holtby is probably never coming back. But the 31-year old’s track record proves he can be much better than he played this season (and last year, for that matter). He’d also be one of just a few former Cup winners on the Kraken.

Also Considered: Tyler Motte is a quality bottom-sixer and penalty-killer. Zack MacEwen is a younger and cheaper but worse bottom-six option as well.

Washington Capitals: G Vitek Vanecek

2020-21 (37 GP): .908 SV%, 0 GSAA

After spending so much time deliberating what to do on the blue-line during the protection lists portion, of course, I’m ultimately poaching a goaltender from the nation’s capital. Vanecek was perfectly average in his rookie year, right down to the zero goals saved above (or below) average. Washington basically thrust him into the starter’s role last year due to injuries and time on the COVID list for Ilya Samsonov. And the unproven Vanecek handled the pressure well. The only downside to picking Vanecek is that Seattle would have three NHL netminders in him, Allen, and Holtby; someone’s gotta go.

Also Considered: Garnet Hathaway is a traditional physical fourth-line grinder who’s played very well since arriving from Calgary in 2019. But he has two more years left at $1.5 million, which isn’t cheap for a fourth-liner. Justin Schultz had a bit of a bounce-back year, scoring 29 points (8 on the power-play) to go along with a 60% on-ice goals percentage.

Winnipeg Jets: D Logan Stanley

2020-21 (37 GP): 1 G, 3 A, 51.88% Corsi, 48.53% xGF

Again, the best player isn’t always the right player. Mason Appleton would be a nice fit up front, but I’m betting on Stanley’s potential instead. The 2016 1st rounder delivered a respectable rookie season; he was one of just four Jets with their head above water (above 50%) in terms of Corsi and added 3 points in 8 playoff games. I don’t think Winnipeg will expose Josh Morrissey and his big deal, which is probably the only way to save Stanley. He’s an intriguing building block with a promising future, regardless of which team he’s playing on.

Also Considered: Mason Appleton took a step forward this year, has some skill, and is only 25. Though Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on his 31 Thoughts podcast that the Jets value Appleton so highly they may trade Andrew Copp, a pending RFA coming off a career year offensively. Sami Niku, AHL defenseman of the year in 2017-18, is also in play.

Your (Hypothetical) 2021-22 Seattle Kraken

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk (PHI)Alexander Kerfoot (TOR)J.T. Compher (COL)
Warren Foegele (CAR)Chris Tierney (OTT)Jake DeBrusk (BOS)
Dominik Kahun (EDM)Teddy Blueger (PIT)Ivan Barbashev (STL)
Jason Dickinson (DAL)Brett Howden (NYR)Tyler Pitlick (ARI)
Nick Cousins (NSH)Blake Lizotte (LA)Michael McLeod (NJ)
Rüdolfs Balcers (SJ)Matthew Phillips (CGY)

Defensemen

Calvin De Hann (CHI)Radko Gudas (FLA)
Nick Leddy (NYI)Troy Stetcher (DET)
Carson Soucy (MIN)Colin Miller (BUF)
Haydn Fleury (ANA)Dean Kukan (CBJ)
Logan Stanley (WPG)Cal Foote (TB)

Goaltenders

Jake Allen (MTL)
Braden Holtby (VAN)
Vitek Vanecek (WSH)

This certainly isn’t a bad team. And in a weak Pacific Division, that could be easily enough to box out a quintuplet of squads that underwhelmed in 2021-22 (Arizona, Calgary, LA, Vancouver, and San Jose) for the third divisional playoff spot, comfortably slotted behind Vegas and slightly less so Edmonton. There’s a lot of depth at wing and in net, and they’re not as bad at center as I would’ve guessed. The defense actually looks a little weak, though Stanley or Foote developing quickly could help fix that problem. I’d rate this roster a little below Vegas’ expansion draft. If only because they don’t have a clear-cut excellent starting goaltender like the Golden Knights did with Marc-Andre Fleury.

They’re good enough to be on the playoff bubble (which is maybe how we should’ve viewed Vegas’ inaugural team), but I don’t think they’d go on a playoff run anything resembling Vegas’ 2018 magic. But that’s an acceptable outcome for the Kraken. Expectations will be all over the place for this group, though they’ll be hard to pin down until we actually know the team. As long as they’re somewhat competitive in year one, it’ll be hard to be too critical of them. The fact that Vegas was so good in their first year actually kind of lowers expectations for Seattle, in my opinion; everyone knows that run was once in a lifetime, so there’s no pressure for the Kraken to do something that significant. Although if the Golden Knights definitely raised the bar for expansion teams, if Seattle flops massively, it’ll be a bit of a disappointment.

Before the new comes in, take a moment to remember the old. Congratulations to Pekka Rinne on an outstanding career. Even in retirement, may he always be too good right now.

The above roster has roughly a .00000001% chance of being Seattle’s actual team (if it is, feel free to hit me up for Powerball numbers), but there should at least be some overlap (if there isn’t, feel free to hit me up for Powerball numbers and then just play the exact opposite). Making this mock draft wouldn’t be fun if there was a clear consensus, of course. There are an infinite amount of possibilities for what the 2021-22 Seattle Kraken will actually look like; this is merely one of them. What does reality have in store for Seattle? We’ll find out in a week.

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All Salary Cap Information From CapFriendly; All Advanced Stats are 5-on-5, Score and Venue Adjusted unless otherwise stated and via Natural Stat Trick (except GSAA, which is via Hockey-Reference)