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.

Stars sign 41-goal scorer Jason Robertson to 4-year, $31M deal

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
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FRISCO, Texas — Jason Robertson signed a four-year, $31 million contract with the Dallas Stars after the young 40-goal scorer missed the first two weeks of training camp.

The Stars announced the deal after their exhibition game in Denver, only a week before the regular season opener Oct. 13 at Nashville.

Robertson turned 23 soon after the end of last season, when the left wing had 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points in his 74 games. His 13 power-play goals led the team. Robertson joined Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin as the only 40-goal scorers since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993.

“Jason is an integral part of the present and future of our team and we’re thrilled to have him for the next four years,” general manager Jim Nill said.

A second-round draft pick (39th overall) by the Stars in 2017, Robertson has 125 points (58 goals, 67 assists) in his 128 NHL games. The 6-foot-3 California native had one goal and three assists in his first postseason action last season, when Dallas lost its first-round playoff series in seven games against Calgary.

“Since he was drafted by our organization, he has worked tirelessly to become a better player every day. His knack for scoring goals and seeing plays develop on the ice are just some of the tremendous assets that he brings to our team,” Nill said. “He is one of the best young players in the NHL, and we look forward to seeing him continue to progress.”

Robertson had the second-highest point total for a Stars rookie in 2020-21, when he had 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in his 51 games.

Before the start of this season’s camp, new coach Pete DeBoer said he looked forward to coaching Robertson.

“Listen, I laid awake at night with the excitement of coaching Jason Robertson, 40-plus goals, but he’s not here,” DeBoer said then. “So, you know, until he gets here, I can’t spend any energy on that.”

Robertson will finally be there now.

Coaching carousel leaves 10 NHL teams with new face on bench

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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The coaching carousel spun a little faster than usual across the NHL, meaning nearly a third of the league will have someone new behind the bench this season. And not just bottom-feeders making changes.

Ten teams go into the season next month with a new coach, from Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida and perennial playoff-contending Boston to rebuilding Chicago and San Jose.

John Tortorella will try to whip Philadelphia into shape, Bruce Cassidy is tasked with getting Vegas back to the playoffs and Derek Lalonde takes his two Stanley Cup rings as a Tampa Bay assistant to his new challenge with the Detroit Red Wings.

TORTS REFORM

Philadelphia players knew they were in for some changes when Tortorella was hired, so they asked Cam Atkinson, who spent six years playing for the no-nonsense coach in Columbus.

“I keep telling them like he’s a guy that’s going to change the whole dynamic of this organization,” Atkinson said.

Tortorella has not shied away from saying a culture change is needed after a last-place finish and a decade with one playoff series win. There is likely not much he and players can do this year about a Cup drought that dates to 1975, but they can start with maddeningly inconsistent stretches of games that have plagued the Flyers for years, no matter the roster.

BIG MO

The Panthers were the league’s best team in the regular season last year but struggled in the playoffs before losing in the second round to cross-state rival Tampa Bay in five games. That was enough for general manager Bill Zito to decide to move on from interim coach Andrew Brunette and hired seasoned veteran Paul Maurice.

The expectation is to get back to the playoffs and compete for the Cup, and having Maurice at the helm was one of the factors that made power forward Matthew Tkachuk pick Florida as his trade-and-sign destination.

“He’s got high hopes for our team,” Tkachuk said. “He sees us playing in a certain way that’s going to make us successful. And he’s done it. He’s been around the NHL a long time, been a very successful head coach and somebody that I’m really looking forward to working with.”

PLAYOFF ROTATION

Bruins GM Don Sweeney fired Cassidy after a seven-game loss to Carolina in the first round despite Boston’s sixth consecutive playoff appearance.

Vegas had already fired Peter DeBoer, making him the scapegoat for an injury-riddled fall from the top of the Western Conference that ended with the team’s first playoff miss in five years of existence. The Golden Knights quickly turned to Cassidy, who like Maurice brings experience and gravitas to a franchise with championship aspirations.

“I think we’re very fortunate as an organization to have him as our coach,” center Jack Eichel said. “Every single person I’ve spoke to about them, they said the same thing: that he’s got a really, really great knack for the game and to able to make adjustments and he understands things. Very, very competitive — wants to win, has won a lot of hockey games over the last few years.”

The Bruins replaced Cassidy with Jim Montgomery, a hockey lifer getting a second chance after being fired by Dallas in December 2019 for inappropriate conduct. Montgomery sought and received help at a rehab facility and got a big endorsement from the staff with St. Louis, the team he was working for as an assistant.

“He’s a winner,” Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman said. “I think guys are going to thrive on that energy.”

The Stars completed the circle by hiring DeBoer, who has coached two teams (New Jersey in 2012 and San Jose in 2016) to the final and is on his fifth stop around the league.

“This is a tough league and it’s a tough one to coach in and you have to be able to handle situations,” GM Jim Nill said. “I know Pete can do it.”

LAMBERT ISLAND

Lane Lambert served as an assistant under Barry Trotz with Nashville, Washington – where they won the Cup together – and the Islanders. When Trotz was abruptly fired after New York missed the playoffs for the first time in his four seasons on the job, his right-hand man got the gig with his endorsement.

Longtime executive Lou Lamoriello thought his team needed a new voice. But Lambert isn’t that new, and his familiarity with the Islanders keeps some continuity.

“Barry was great for our team, and having Lane as an assistant, he had lots of say, as well,” forward Mathew Barzal said. “As a group, we all have a good relationship with him, so I think it’ll be an easy transition for our team.”

MORE NEW VOICES

The final coaching change of the offseason came in San Jose, with ownership and interim management firing Bob Boughner and his assistants before Mike Grier took over as GM. Grier hired David Quinn, who most recently coached the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics after spending three years with the Rangers.

Rick Bowness, the Stars’ interim coach when Montgomery was fired who helped them reach the final in 2020 and was not brought back, joined Winnipeg. He immediately made an impact by stripping Blake Wheeler of the Jets captaincy.

The other new coaches – Lalonde in Detroit and Luke Richardson in Chicago – are not expected to make such big waves.

Richardson, who briefly was acting coach for Montreal during the 2021 final when Dominique Ducharme tested positive for the coronavirus, is overseeing the start of a long-term rebuild by the Blackhawks. Lalonde was Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman’s pick to help end the storied franchise’s playoff drought.

“He believes in what he’s preaching, which I think is great walking into a new locker room,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “He’s made a great impression on the guys.”

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.