Skip to content
NHL Mock Expansion Draft 2021: Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko headline Seattle Kraken picks


The time has come as the NHL’s newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken, is set to fill up its roster during Wednesday’s expansion draft (8 p.m. ET).

Who they will select from the 30 teams is anyone’s guess. (Vegas is exempt from the expansion draft.) GM Ron Francis has said he’d liked to have cap space in today’s economy but his owners have also given him the green light to spend freely to the cap ceiling if he feels it neccessary.

There are a few rules Francis and his staff need to follow when making their selections:

  • They must select 30 players — at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
  • At least 20 of those players must be under contract for 2021-22 and have a value between 60 and 100 percent of the upper limit ($81.5 million) of the salary cap.

Of course, there is sure to have been plenty of wheelin’ and dealin’ on the side as teams want to sweeten the pot to keep a certain player.

MORE: Full list of players available for NHL Expansion Draft

Plus, Francis has an exclusive window to negotiate deals with pending free agents. If they are signed, that guy would be the pick from their now former team. But the expectation is those deals won’t come until after free agency opens up on July 28. After all, why not get two guys if you can. A few interesting names out there are pending UFAs Travis Zajac, Zach Parise and Derek Forbort who all played for coach Dave Hakstol at North Dakota. (Parise, it should be noted, has been linked to the Islanders and ex-Devils GM Lou Lamoriello.) Derek Ryan, the Flames center and UFA, hails from Washington state and could add some local flavor. 

As the Kraken get, well, cracking on building their roster, Sporting News took a stab at projecting who the NHL’s 32nd team will snag (thanks to the good folks over at CapFriendly). In the end, 17 forwards, nine defensemen and four goalies were picked.Of the 30, 21 players are under contract for 2021-22 and it totals to a salary cap hit of $79.5 million (max is $81.5 million).

Getty Images

NHL mock expansion draft 2021

Forwards

Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

Cap hit: $7.5 million, two years left

There’s a lot of question marks around the Blues wingers’ health but when one of the game’s best goal scorers (218 goals, 224 assists in 531 career games) is available how can you say no? There have been some rumors that he gets flipped after the selection.

James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers

Cap hit: $7 million, two years left

Who would Tarasenko get flipped for? How about Jakob Voracek. The Flyers forward could definitely use a change of scenery and certainly found success during Hakstol’s tenure, including his career year in 2017-18 (85 points in 82 games). Voracek was SN’s pick but his contract did not fit so instead we went with another guy who can bury the puck, is a smidge cheaper and Hakstol also knows in van Riemsdyk. 

Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders

Cap hit: $5.5 million, three years

This team is going to be stacked with goal guys and Eberle is someone who can do just that as a top-six guy. He scored 16 the last two seasons in shortened years. If Tarasenko sticks around, he’d look mighty nice on that second line behind Tarasenko at right wing.

Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning

Cap hit: $4.45 million, two years

The Lightning left unprotected a ton of talent and while a lot of people are speculating it’ll be centerman Yanni Gourde who will go out west, Killorn is a guy with immense value. He was on the top power-play unit, served as a key penalty killer and was a second-line winger for the potent Bolts offense. When he went down with, what was revealed to be a broken leg in the Final, his loss was quickly seen in the lineup. Plus, add in that he wanted to — and tried to — play on said broken leg says a lot about this guy’s character.

MORE: Lightning forward reveals broken leg kept him out of Stanley Cup Final

Joonas Donskoi, Colorado Avalanche

Cap hit: $3.9 million, two years

A middle-six guy, Donskoi is coming off a career year with 17 goals and his fourth straight year of at least 30 points. At 29, the 200-ft player that Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar relied on across the ice, he brings a veteran presence with playoff experience (he’s made the postseason in each of his six seasons).

Alexander Kerfoot, Toronto Maple Leafs

Cap hit: $3.5 million, two years

The rumor is GM Kyle Dubas acquired Jared McCann just in case the team lost Kerfoot in the expansion draft. He left both guys available so the thought is one could be gone and while Kerfoot is a little older and a little more expensive, he’s probably the better fit for the Kraken — and it just may be a done deal:

Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo Sabres

Cap hit: $2.2 million, two years

The hope was to fit Skinner into this mock draft but the price on his contract was too rich. Girgensons missed the entire season with a hamstring injury but has a ton of upside and can play a third-line checking role. He’s also a guy assistant GM Jason Botterill knows quite well from his Buffalo days and it wouldn’t be out of the question for the front office and coaching staff to pick players they’re comfortable with.

Calle Jarnkrok, Nashville Predators

Cap hit: $2 million, one year

This mock draft was all about flexibility and Jarnkrok is one of the guys in this forward group — like Kerfoot — who can play center and wing. He notched 13 goals and 28 points in 49 games in 2021 for third on the Predators and would be a cheap addition to the roster.

NHL Mock Expansion Draft 2021: Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko headline Seattle Kraken picks
(Getty Images)

Dylan Gambrell, San Jose Sharks

Cap hit: $1.1 million, one year

A guy with a local connection, Gambrell is the bright spot on an otherwise dismal list for the Sharks. He’s a centerman by trade, brings a physical game and would be a solid bottom-six guy.

Kevin Stenlund, Columbus Blue Jackets

Cap hit: $1.05 million, one year

Obviously, Max Domi is the shiny jewel the Blue Jackets dangled but he’ll miss time after offseason shoulder surgery and questions abound after a couple of inconsistent seasons. Stenlund is young (24), can play wing and center and would slot in as an inexpensive depth guy.

Colin Blackwell, New York Rangers

Cap hit: $725,000, one year

One of the biggest surprises on the exposed list was Blackwell after he notched 22 points in 47 games. He scored some big goals for the Rangers, can play center and the wing and, like Stenlund is young and cheap.

Zach Aston-Reese, Pittsburgh Penguins

Cap hit: RFA with arbitration rights

Aston-Reese would be an interesting pick for the Kraken. As noted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Mike DeFabo, the Kraken love analytics and the New York City native’s numbers in that department are quite appealing: 50.8 expected goals-for percentage at 5v5 and, when he was on the ice, Pittsburgh produced more high-danger chances. 

MORE: Full list of players protected from expansion draft

Tyler Benson, Edmonton Oilers

Cap hit: RFA

It’s been hard for the forward to crack the Oilers lineup, and he’s just played seven NHL games, but there’s a lot of upside for the 23-year-old. At Bakersfield (AHL), he’s posted close to point-per-game numbers (36 points in 47 games in 2019-20 and 36 points in 36 games last season) and brings strong playmaking whenever he is on the ice.

Andreas Athanasiou, Los Angeles Kings

Cap hit: RFA with arbitration rights

Athanasiou adds that all-important roster flexibility as he can play across the board up front. He’s struggled as of late but is not far removed from a 30-goal season in 2018-19 with the Red Wings.

Adam Gaudette, Chicago Blackhawks

Cap hit: RFA with arbitration rights

Gaudette was shipped to Chicago by the Canucks at the trade deadline. He posted impressive numbers in 2019-20 (33 points in 59 games) but faltered in 2021 with a combined 11 points in 40 games. A familiar name to the Pacific Northwest, Gaudette has the skill to be a big role player but he just needs to tap into it.

Adam Mascherin, Dallas Stars

Cap hit: RFA with arbitration rights

At 23, Mascherin is a solid prospect to have in the pipeline. He finished third in goals (18)  in the AHL in 2021, can play center and wing and would add speed and skill to the bottom-six.

Michael Bunting, Arizona Coyotes

Cap hit: UFA

Bunting is one of three unrestricted free agents on this list, and while he could sign on July 28, it doesn’t hurt to lock him up now. When he got into the Coyotes lineup he was effective scoring 10 goals in 21 games. While he didn’t get points for Team Canada at the 2021 IIHF Men’s World Championship, the 5-11 guy brought energy and was a key forechecker for Gerard Gallant’s squad.

NHL Mock Expansion Draft 2021: Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko headline Seattle Kraken picks
(Getty Images)

Defense

Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

Cap hit: $6.75 million, one year

Giordano doesn’t necessarily want to leave Calgary, and Darryl Sutter surely doesn’t want to lose the guy he said was the team’s best defenseman in 2021 (and the winner of the inaugural Clayton H. Riddell Award as the Flames’ best blueliner) but this one is probably a done deal. The 2019 Norris Trophy winner was the team’s top defenseman with 26 points and led everyone in ice time (22:57) while playing in all 56 games at the age of 37. If he is taken, he’ll probably end up being the first captain in Kraken history.

Kevin Shattenkirk, Anaheim Ducks

Cap hit: $3.9 million, two years

This was a toss-up between Shattenkirk and Adam Henrique but as they say, defense wins championships — and he did that in 2020 with the Lightning. He’s a creative right-shot defenseman who sees power-play time while also being solid in his own end. Alongside Giordano, he’ll bring a veteran presence to the corps.

Will Butcher, New Jersey Devils

Cap hit: $3.733 million, one year

Butcher’s time in the Garden State look to be numbered anyway as he played half the number of games in 2021 as he did in 2019-20 (56). He’s a mobile defenseman and at just 26 could flourish with a change of scenery. With just one year left on his deal, the Kraken could take a chance and see how it goes and potentially sign him to less money next offseason when he’s a UFA.

Dylan DeMelo, Winnipeg Jets

Cap hit: $3 million, three years

Pretty fair to say everyone was shocked that the Jets left DeMelo — and a guy coach Paul Maurice loves (back in February 2020 he said this about his debut with the club: “That was a pure kind of, I don’t know if you could call it ‘coaches porn,’ but when you’re watching hockey video, you know that’s pretty darn good.”) DeMelo is a standout defensive defenseman — at 5v5, the team’s Corsi For percentage was 49.29 but he had the best expected Goals For percentage among defensemen at 51.49 per Natural Stat Trick — and made a critical stop for the Jets in the postseason sweep of the Oilers. 

Troy Stecher, Detroit Red Wings

Cap hit: $1.7 million, one year

The loss of Stecher, along with Chris Tanev, was obvious for the Canucks. He had a solid year for the struggling Red Wings and was a key piece of Hockey Canada’s gold-medal winning squad. A native of British Columbia, and an alum of Hakstol’s North Dakota years, Stecher is an obvious pick for the Kraken. 

Josh Brown, Ottawa Senators

Cap hit: $1.2 million, one year

A hard-nosed blueliner, Brown would be a nice complement to the skill of a guy like Shattenkirk. At just over a million-dollar hit, he likes to throw the body around (despite playing just 26 games, was ninth on the team in hits at 71) and put the body on the line (second on the team with 6.52 blocks-per-game).

Connor Clifton, Boston Bruins

Cap hit: $1 million, two years

Clifton is a good, young, right-shot defenseman who can play both sides. He has familiarity with assistant coach Jay Leach — who will be in charge of the D — from his Providence days to boot.

Brogan Rafferty, Vancouver Canucks

Cap hit: UFA

The 26-year-old defenseman reportedly wants out of Vancouver and as a UFA, he’ll probably get his wish one way or another. A right-shot defenseman, he had an All-Star 2019-20 season in Utica (AHL) with 45 points in 57 games and was third among league defensemen in scoring. Long considered a top prospect in the Canucks pipeline, he struggled to crack the lineup (played a game) and spent the majority of 2021 on the taxi squad. Rafferty has a ton of upside with solid hockey IQ, skating and point production and would be a good get at the league minimum.

Jake Bean, Carolina Hurricanes

Cap hit: RFA

Bean was drafted by Francis in 2016 at 13th overall and had a solid first full year with 12 points in 42 games, including six with the man advantage. At 23, there’s a whole lotta upside here and he could slot in nicely in the bottom defensive pairing.

NHL Mock Expansion Draft 2021: Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko headline Seattle Kraken picks
(Getty Images)

Goaltenders

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Cap hit: $10.5 million, five years

A Hall of Fame goaltender, who just posted some eye-popping numbers in the postseason and has a connection to the Pacific Northwest? How could you not take him? Price, who played for the Tri-City Americans during his juniors days, which is where he met his wife Angela, would be the face of the franchise a la Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury. Of course, there are questions about his health (knee and hip) and a goalie with a hip injury isn’t ideal but even if he misses some time he would be a foundational pick for the new franchise. 

Kaapo Kahkonen, Minnesota Wild

Cap hit: $725,000, one year

Leaving the youngster unprotected was a smidge of a surprise and he could be a solid backup to either Chris Driedger if Price is unable to go in the beginning. In his first full season, the 24-year-old posted a 19-9-1 record with a 2.90 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. 

Vitek Vanecek, Washington Capitals

Cap hit: $716,667, one year

Another youngster, Vanecek could potentially push for that backup spot. He played in 37 games for the Capitals in 2021 and went 21-10-0 with a 2.69 GAA and .908 save percentage. If they do opt to select Kahkonen and Vanecek, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one is shipped out of the Emerald City shortly after.

Chris Driedger, Florida Panthers

Cap hit: UFA

This may be the safest pick on the list as a number of insiders have revealed that the netminder is close to signing a deal with the Kraken. He had a breakout year in 2021 with a 14-6-3 record, 2.07 GAA and a save percentage of .927. If Seattle does take Price and he has to miss time, Driedger would fit in nicely as a No. 1 to start.





Source link