The expansion draft had more than a couple fans scratching their heads. Whether it was because the Kraken selected a player from the “Carolina Panthers,” or some high profile players didn’t get selected. Here are four takeaways from the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft.
1. In Youth, We Learn
The Seattle Kraken loaded up on young players for both sides of the puck. Their goaltending situation saw them pick up Vitek Vanecek and Joey Daccord, who are 25 and 24 respectively. However, they did trade Vanecek back to the Capitals. They also grabbed some more youngsters like Cale Fleury and Kole Lind at 22. There are a few more players in their low 20’s as well.
It seems like Seattle is attempting to establish themselves as a team for the future. Compared to the Vegas Golden Knights, whose first few seasons might be seen as a failure without early success. But in reality, they are continuing to build their roster and bank on their “prospects.” While the strategy is not a terrible one by any means, it just might take the Kraken some time to get crackin’.
2. Defense Wins Championships
The Kraken made their defensive intentions abundantly clear. In the expansion draft, 12 defenders were selected out of the 30 total picks. That 40 percent might not seem too out of place. But consider for a moment that teams usually only dress six or maybe seven defensemen, and that leaves half of your defensemen scratched.
While it certainly is not the worst problem to have, it makes for an interesting problem. Another stumbling block is the lack of right-handed blue liners. Choosing just three in Will Borgen, Adam Larrson and Cale Fleury leave an uneven balance at just 25 percent of righties.
Regardless, they have a variety of options for their defensive pairings. On top of that, their unit has Jamie Oleksiak and Mark Giordano at the helm. Those two have nearly 1,300 games between them, and 949 of those belong to Giordano.
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) July 23, 2021
3. “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”
After the expansion draft, the Seattle Kraken still had “cash in the bank” to quote Macklemore, who announced one of Seattle’s picks. The new kids on the block have $29M left in cap space to play with. So in addition to their expansion draft choices, the Kraken can make bids for free agents coming up.
There are quite a few players whose contracts have expired. With names like Kyle Palmieri, Jake Virtanen and Ryan Donato, Seattle could further bolster their lineup. Sure, some of the free agents might have a daunting contract, but Seattle has the money. Additionally, they have assets like early draft picks to help turn the tide in a tight trade.
While it’s unlikely that we’ll see Seattle make a move for Ryan Getzlaf or Vladimir Tarasenko due to their age and contract size, it is possible. Between now until they take the ice against Vegas on opening night October 12, their lineup could look quite different.
4. The Price is Wrong
It is not often you see a goaltender from that year’s Stanley Cup Final go unprotected in an expansion draft. But that is exactly what the Montréal Canadiens did with Carey Price, even waiving his no movement clause. Perhaps the Habs were banking on his towering contract to act as Kraken repellent. Regardless, the plan worked and Price was passed on.
Almost everyone guessed that Seattle would grab Chris Driedger from the Florida Panthers. According to CapFriendly, he was the most selected goaltender in their expansion draft simulator. Posting a .927 save percentage and logging over 20 wins in 38 games made him a solid candidate. The big surprise came just one pick later. With the fifth pick, the Seattle Kraken selected Montréal’s Cale Fleury.
Seattle had more than a handful of talented goaltenders to choose from. Fans speculated online about how the Kraken could pick up as many as five. Then subsequently look to release two back to other teams. Carey Price was up on that list though. Having him as an experienced veteran leading a brand new franchise seemed like a good plan. Ultimately, the Price was wrong and Seattle opted for Fleury instead.
Shortly into Free Agency, the Kraken did make a big signing. They signed on former Colorado netminder Philipp Grubauer to a six year contract for over $34M. While they did not opt for Price, they put themselves in capable hands with Grubauer.
Don't mind if we do. 😏
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) July 28, 2021
The Seattle Kraken made quite a few moves (30 to be precise) and undoubtedly more are on the way. How will this team stack up to Vegas in their initial year? Is a big signing in the works for Seattle? What will they do with all their defensemen? Where there better picks to be made? Stay tuned to Back Sports Page to stay up to date on everything you need to know about the NHL.
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