Early winners, losers from Seattle Kraken expansion draft

Early winners, losers from Seattle Kraken expansion draft
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Whether you found out thanks to a stream of reports or during the NHL’s Seattle Kraken expansion draft show, the team’s 30 picks have been revealed.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean we now have a complete view of the Kraken’s opening-day roster. (Reports indicate we might know the 2021-22 schedule for the Kraken and other NHL teams by Thursday, though.)

For one thing, we could see side deals. The Kraken maintained salary cap throughout this expansion draft, so don’t be surprised to see “sweeteners” and other types of trades. That robust cap space also opens the door Kraken to be big players in 2021 NHL Free Agency. You know … if they want to.

So, take these early Seattle Kraken “winners” and “losers” with appropriate grains of salt. Things could change as far as the Kraken’s makeup, and also how the Kraken affect other NHL teams, in the days, months, and even years following this expansion draft.

But here are some early winners and losers nonetheless. Click here for the full roster reveal.

Seattle Kraken expansion draft: Early losers

Being that every other NHL team (except those lucky Golden Knights) needed to lose a player, why not start with “losers?”

Loser: the Kraken expansion draft reveal show itself

Love surprises? Did you want to drop your jaw as the Seattle Kraken announced their 30 expansion draft picks? *Cough* Well, hopefully you avoided social media/the Internet in general.

If you wanted the closest thing to suspense, you’d really need to stretch. According to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, it merely took time for the Kraken to contact Dennis Cholowski as their Red Wings pick.

Plenty of reporters did great work (or annoying work, if you’re ESPN and/or hate spoilers). Daily Faceoff’s Frank Servalli chiseled out so many leaks, he became something of a meme magnet.

That said, the show did its best to make it fun. There were plenty of familiar faces, including other sports stars in Marshawn Lynch, Gary Payton, and Shawn Kemp. So, maybe you knew what gifts you were getting, but at least the wrapping paper was nice.

Losers: Lovers of splashy moves, pizzazz, chaos

Here’s a bold take: the Kraken, a mythical sea creature, likely splashed around a lot. During the expansion draft, we didn’t get many splashy moves from the Kraken, though.

Maybe that actually softens the blow of a lack of surprises? After all, a surprise can quickly downgrade to a disappointment. Just think of all of the times your younger self whined about getting socks as holiday gifts.

(As an old? Socks are pretty elite gifts, honestly.)

Instead of picking big names like Carey Price and Vladimir Tarasenko, the Kraken emphasized cap space, defense, and flexibility.

In the grand scheme of things, the Kraken might be smart in doing so. From a “sports are actually entertainment” perspective, those of us who crave chaos instead got socks. Sorry, socks.

Side deals

Could there be post-expansion draft trades? Something else that surfaces? We’ll see.

For now, it seems like NHL teams opted against side deals with the Kraken after making several before the Golden Knights’ expansion draft.

As much as it smarts for Flames fans to lose captain Mark Giordano, GM Brad Treliving said the price was simply too high to keep him. That may have been a trade. (Or teams just didn’t want a repeat of the Golden Knights heartache.)

Stay tuned at PHT for possible movement after the expansion draft, however.

Leaking Oilers

In time, maybe the Oilers will look like the smartest people in the room. Perhaps Duncan Keith will be so good as to prove critics wrong.

It sure doesn’t feel that way, though.

Losing Adam Larsson makes that Keith move look shakier, and only turns the knife in deeper about Edmonton possibly giving huge term to Zach Hyman. The Golden Knights likely made it more desirable to sign with an expansion team, but Larsson essentially picking the Kraken over the Oilers?


Blues, Flyers, generally anyone who wanted to save some money

Here’s where the “early” part is important in considering losers.

Following the expansion draft, the Kraken could still offer up their cap space to take on problem contracts — for a price. During the expansion draft announcements themselves, the Kraken weren’t exactly handing out a lot of “get out of salary cap jail for free” cards, though.

Seattle passed on the risk-reward decision of picking Vladimir Tarasenko. If the Flyers hoped to get James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, or even Shayne Gostisbehere off of the books, they were out of luck.

Deep down, the Predators probably didn’t expect the Kraken to rid themselves of $8M in one of Matt Duchene or Ryan Johansen. It sure would’ve been nice for a team already awkwardly handling its rebuild.

More often than not, the Kraken went with short contracts, and cheap ones.

The Lightning, to an extent

Look, this offseason could hurt the Lightning. (Yes, that “could” does some hard work. There’s a fool me once …,” vibe to assuming the salary cap will actually be a probably for Tampa Bay.)

For all the warnings about not overreacting to the expansion draft, part of me wonders if the Lightning should’ve tried to bribe the Kraken not to take Yanni Gourde. He’s really good.

But the Lightning need breathing room, and if they didn’t bribe Seattle to take Gourde, then maybe it could have been worse?

Lovers of goals

Yanni Gourde has 22 and 25-goal seasons on his resume. Chances are, Jordan Eberle will be a big catalyst for Seattle’s offense.

Overall, it’s fair to ask “where are the goals coming from?” This is another foible of picking winners and losers so soon after the Kraken expansion draft, though. Could they add more scoring punch via free agency or trades?

Maybe, but right now, it looks like the Kraken might score in a way you’d, well, normally expect from an expansion team.

Really, though, the goals might be tough to come by overall, which is a nice segue to the “winners” section.

Early winners from the Seattle Kraken expansion draft

Truthfully, the biggest wins might be difficult to detect. Maybe those happen via a trade or free-agent pickup. It could boil down to the Kraken finding their version of William Karlsson, too.

That said, here are some early guesses at winners.

Hakstol’s defensive sensibilities?

One would guess that, as a “hockey man,” Dave Hakstol probably covets defense. On paper, the Kraken figure to be a tenacious opponent — and not just from the blueline.

Naturally, it starts with Mark Giordano, a veteran not that far removed from a Norris Trophy win. Larsson is another defenseman who’s proven to be an asset, maybe an elite one in his end.

Between those veterans, some intriguing mid-range options like Vince Dunn, and a handful of late-stage prospects, the Kraken could ice a nice crew of defensemen. Fans of other teams might even feel a bit jealous.

Delightfully for Hakstol and the Kraken, that strong defensive play also extends to most of their forwards. Yanni Gourde can bring offense, but it’s his all-around play that makes him exciting. Overall impact may vary, but you can basically copy-paste “two-way player” for most of the forwards the Kraken picked during the expansion draft.

Chris Driedger

At 27 years old, Driedger has played in just 41 regular-season games, and made three playoff appearances. His numbers are absolutely sparkling in most of those contexts, so don’t blame the Kraken for taking a chance on him.

But it’s understandable that people compare Driedger receiving some term and cash to a signing that may still give Ron Francis nightmares. During his time as Hurricanes GM, Francis & Co. signed Scott Darling — a player who put up nice numbers, but not over a large sample size, at a somewhat advanced age.

Does that doom Driedger by default? No, not necessarily. (It could help to have a strong defense in front of him.)

Either way, though … nice hustle from Driedger. Maybe he could have received something similar on the free-agent market, yet who knows? Instead, Driedger receives the sort of stability he probably couldn’t have fathomed even a couple years ago. Good for him.

The Islanders — if they want to make some splashes

You know that bit about teams not wiggling out of salary-cap challenges? The Islanders rank as one of those exceptions.

Now, Jordan Eberle could be missed. Still, consider that he carried a $5.5M cap hit, while the Islanders moved similar money in trading away Nick Leddy and Andrew Ladd. (They even landed some futures for Leddy! Strong work.)

While Anthony Beauvilier figures to eat some of that space, Cap Friendly estimates the Islanders’ cap room at about $17.67 million.

Could they add that extra scoring talent to push them over the hump? Will they somehow add even more hitting? Get plenty of both by signing Gabriel Landeskog? Shock us all with Mathew Barzal? The possibilities were dizzying even before subtracting Eberle’s $5.5M via the Kraken expansion draft.

The Fleury family

Another expansion draft, another big night for people named “Fleury.”

The Kraken selected brothers (and defensemen) in Cale Fleury, 22, and Haydn Fleury, 25. Both bring interesting potential to the table.

But, really, even if they don’t (or only one does), moments like these are just cool.

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.

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