Price, Tarasenko, more: Biggest names (risks?) available in expansion draft

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Before the protected and available players lists emerged, it seemed like the Kraken would be sifting through debris while making their expansion draft picks. The thinking was that, at best, they’d be unearthing diamonds in the rough. Instead, the Kraken must determine: is that big, shiny, flashing object (like Carey Price) worth a gamble?

In this post, PHT breaks down some of the biggest names (and contracts, and risks) available to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. Wednesday represents when the Kraken’s expansion draft picks will be announced.

Later on, we’ll discuss potential values/steals available to the Seattle Kraken during this intriguing expansion draft.

Seattle Kraken expansion draft rules refresher

Now, you might want a refresher on the Seattle Kraken expansion draft rules. (If not, scroll to the next section.)

Each NHL team (except the Golden Knights) needed to choose to protect players under two alignment options:

  1. Protecting seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie.
  2. Protecting any combination of eight skaters (example: four forwards, four defensemen), and a goalie.

That said, not every NHL player is involved, so some prospects were not available to the expansion draft. Meanwhile, NHL teams were forced to protect certain players because of contract factors. As the NHL explains:

* All players with no movement clauses at the time of the draft, and who decline to waive those clauses, must be protected and will be counted toward their team’s applicable protection limits.

* All first- and second-year professionals, and all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection and will not be counted toward protection limits.

So, the 30 NHL teams involved faced those considerations. What about some of the minimums and other factors for the Kraken in selecting players in the expansion draft? Here are some key details:

  • The Kraken must select at least: 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies. They’ll need to select one player from all 30 teams in the expansion draft.
  • At least 20 players must be under contract for the 2021-22 season. That part of the process once made it tougher to put together these PHT lists.
  • The total cap hit must fall somewhere between 60-percent and 100-percent of the upper limit of the salary cap.
  • Starting on Sunday (July 18), the Kraken open a window to exclusively negotiate with pending free agents who were not protected by NHL teams. If the Kraken signed one of those free agents, that player would count as Seattle’s pick for a given team.

Want even more detail? The NHL’s rules explained how injuries and other factors work.

Price, Tarasenko, Ovechkin? Biggest names, risks available in Kraken expansion draft

OK, let’s run down some of the biggest names (and, usually, cap hits) available in the Kraken expansion draft. Check out the full list of available players here.

Carey Price: Expansion draft pros and cons

Could Carey Price echo Marc-Andre Fleury as a veteran goalie who became the “face” of an expansion franchise?

If you judge Price based on some strong playoff work, then many will utter an emphatic “Yes!” It’s unclear how much people show up at the box office for a big-name goalie. Still, Price could give the Kraken a marketable name right out of the expansion draft.

But, goodness, would that ever be a risk.

Price, 33, carries a $10.5M cap hit for five more seasons. His contract has ranked among the worst in the NHL, at least until his playoff resurgence. (Full disclosure: it still scares me. A lot.)

While Price waived his clause for the expansion draft, the Kraken can’t just assume they can turn around and trade him, either.

As Johnston mentions, Price also receives that $11M signing bonus. If the Kraken were guaranteed quality goaltending, it might be worth it. Even then, are we certain they wouldn’t just be wasting strong performances behind a flawed team?

Sure seems like a huge gamble with murky odds of success to me. We’ll see if Ron Francis and the Kraken disagree.

Tarasenko an interesting risk

After trying to trade Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues exposed him to the expansion draft. That alone raises some red flags about the 29-year-old.

With three shoulder surgeries (and the Blues’ side of that situation driving a wedge?), Tarasenko’s a risk. He only played 10 games in 2019-20, and 24 in 2020-21. When he played last season, Tarasenko looked far from the elite sniper he once was.

Can he regain that form? Maybe not, but the Kraken might find Tarasenko appealing if he merely can be, say, 80-percent of that player. Theoretically, the Kraken can trade Tarasenko in the event that he rebuilds his reputation.

His contract itself is a mixed bag. Most importantly, it only runs for two seasons. If Tarasenko’s toast, it won’t linger on the books for ages. (Price, meanwhile, could rapidly become an albatross.)

The actual structure of Tarasenko’s contract is especially interesting. While Tarasenko carries a $7.5M cap hit for two more seasons, he gets paid very differently. Next season, he’s a pricey $9.5M; in 2022-23, he costs merely $5.5M in actual salary.

Would the Kraken really want to pay that much up front? Maybe not. The risk-reward ratio is absolutely fascinating, though.

JVR, Voracek, interesting/pricey Flyers

The Flyers began their offseason push with a shrewd Ryan Ellis trade. Will the Flyers lose a prominent (and expensive) player to the expansion draft?

  • James van Riemsdyk, 32, carries a $7M cap hit for two more seasons. In an otherwise bleak season for the Flyers, JVR was incredible. He’s a little older, and not cheap. But that strong season, and not too much term, make him intriguing.
  • Jakub Voracek, 31, commands an $8.25M through 2023-24. It sure sounds like the team and player might be ready to part ways. He certainly can score, yet is that mix of money and term right for Seattle?
  • If you consider the tepid interest in acquiring Shayne Gostisbehere, maybe he warrants a mention. Ghost, 28, carries a $4.5M AAV for two more seasons.

Gotta say, I don’t hate the idea of giving JVR a shot. That said, maybe the Kraken believe there are better values on younger expansion draft options?

Flames expose Giordano

There was some debate over whether the Flames would protect Christopher Tanev or Mark Giordano in the expansion draft. Now, the Kraken get to debate the merits of selecting Giordano from the Flames in the expansion draft.

  • On one hand, he’s getting up there in age. Giordano is 37.
  • That said, he’s not that far removed from winning a Norris Trophy. While his play has slipped, he’s still one of the best defensive options available.
  • His $6.75M cap hit is pricey, yet the risk is low. The contract expires after next season.

In Seattle’s shoes, I’d snatch Giordano, then test the trade market. Would a great deal pop up during the offseason? Might something better come up at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline? If nothing else, Giordano’s the sort of veteran presence teams twist themselves into a pretzel to get.

Big names with the big free agent caveat

  • Technically, the Capitals did not protect Alex Ovechkin. Multiple reports indicate that the Kraken would be wasting their time picking Ovechkin in the expansion draft, though.

(Want one scenario where Ovechkin would make sense for the Kraken? Perhaps if they simply didn’t want to choose a Capitals player. They have some nice options, there, though.)

Lightning round: Subban, Quick, other expansion draft options for Kraken

Here are some of the other notable names.

  • Like Carey Price, P.K. Subban boasts “face of the franchise” potential. He’s expensive at $9M, though, even if that deal is expiring. Subban hasn’t enjoyed the redemption arc Price as, and it’s tough to imagine the Kraken taking a risk to give him a chance to do that.
  • What about Jonathan Quick? A side deal would really only make sense for a 35-year-old whose $5.8M AAV lasts for two more seasons.
  • The Lightning provided one truly great option (Yanni Gourde), another noteworthy name (Ondrej Palat), and someone who’d likely require a bribe (Tyler Johnson). Between Gourde and some nice young players like Ross Colton and Alex Barre-Boulet, the Kraken have some options. Maybe the Lightning bribe them?
  • Also intriguing: two Islanders forwards. Jordan Eberle, 31, is quite effective. His deal is a mixed bag: $5.5M cap hit for three more seasons. Meanwhile, Josh Bailey, 31, is slightly cheaper ($5M) and also sees his deal expire after 2023-24.
  • It would be a really, really bad idea to pick $8M Predators centers Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen. They must be mentioned, because wow.

OK, even faster lightning round. Some other names that stand out, with many falling into the “only if teams bribe the Kraken” category:

Lots to choose from

Again, PHT will go deeper on players viewed as the best values. Some players mentioned above may also make it into that mix.

Yet, if the Kraken merely just throw caution to the wind, they have a ton of fascinating expansion draft options, eh?

Pretty stunning stuff. How would you approach these choices? Are you in that Carey Price club? Do tell.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.