First, the best news of all: we have dates for the draft! All 30 participating NHL teams — I’m looking at you, (not Las) Vegas — submit their protected lists to the league by 2pm Seattle time on July 17th. Four days and a few hours later, at 5pm on July 21st, the final roster for the 2021 Seattle Kraken will be announced.
Okay, sorry, gimme a minute… gotta go change my Underoos. This is all just a little too exciting.
Another Mock Draft?
Earlier this fall we took a couple of cracks at a mock draft, with versions 1.0 (straight draft) and 2.0 (unrestricted free agents only). Now it’s time for version 3.0, when things go off the rails a little.
Full disclosure: this won’t be a mock draft like our previous two efforts, or like you will see on other hockey sites. We’ve exhausted our efforts in that capacity for the time being, though we will be breaking down the possibilities for each team, one at a time, during the upcoming regular season.
So this time, instead of a full-scale mock draft, what we’re exploring now are the “what-if” scenarios that will make up most of the drama, and a lot of the excitement, surrounding the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
What if Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis is able to make a deal with a given team?
What could we get if we went “off the board,” and tried to coax a more worthwhile player out of the teams we will be picking from? Who would we want?
Or, are the pickings so slim on a given team’s roster that we would prefer a draft pick?
What we’re not able to do is predict what the Kraken would have to give up in return. We have zero assets at the present time — merely a full slate of draft picks in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, and the threat of selecting an unprotected player from each team’s roster. How can we make deals when those are our only bargaining chips?
Without that kind of crystal ball in hand, what we’ll do here is look at the credit side of the balance sheet, and let the Kraken worry about the debits. Since we have no way to know what the Kraken will have, we have no idea what they’d be willing to give up. That’s why they pay Ron Francis the big bucks.
That does raise an interesting question, however: if we’re not playing by the draft rules, and only looking at what’s possible, how do we decide? Why not John Tavares from the Leafs, Patrick Kane from the Blackhawks, Erik Karlsson from the Sharks, Elvis Merzlikins from the Blue Jackets, and on and on? Plainly none of those deals are going to happen, so we needed a more realistic approach.
For this exercise we will be looking for players who fall into one of two categories: young, even unproven players who have shown a lot of promise; or more experienced players who have contracts that make them a good value for the money. Essentially, living in the real world, what types of players could the Kraken realistically acquire with the proper enticement?
So, without regard for players by position, salary cap floor or ceiling, or what the Kraken might have to give up to acquire them, here is who (or what) Ron Francis and his scouting staff should be vying for when the wheeling and dealing starts on July 18th.
Anaheim Ducks: RW Jacob Perreault, $925,000 (exempt): Son of NHL veteran Yanic Perreault, he matches his dad’s work ethic with exceptional scoring prowess. He projects as a top-six forward in about 2-3 years.
Arizona Coyotes: C Christian Dvorak, $4.45 million (protected): This 24-year-old is beginning his 5th NHL season, and consistently delivers a 55% face-off win percentage. He’s a fair-priced 2nd line center signed through 2025.
Carolina Hurricanes: C Jack Drury, unsigned (exempt): 18 years old, 6′ 3″, 191 lbs., and has performed at or above a point-per-game pace at every level in his career. A late-round steal by the Hurricanes, this kid is a gamer in the truest sense of the word.
Colorado Avalanche: LW Andre Burakovsky, $4.9 million (protected): This is the winger that allows the other two guys on his line to rack up points. Goes to the dirty areas, draws d-men to him, and opens scoring lanes.
Columbus Blue Jackets: C Max Domi, $5.3 million (protected): Son of NHL pugilist/legend Tie Domi, he is labeled as “overpriced,” “arrogant,” and a “disappointment” by detractors. I disagree, and would suggest that his best years are still in front of him.
Dallas Stars: LW/RW Jason Robertson, $795,000 (exempt): The 6’3″ California native has shown growth and offensive output at every level in his development, and absolutely crushes it in the playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers: C/LW Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, $6 million (protected): RNH will be a free agent in the days following the draft, but Edmonton will likely protect him so they don’t lose him for nothing. We want this kid, who can be a superstar once he gets out of the shadows of Draisaitl and McJesus.
Los Angeles Kings: RW Alex Laferriere, unsigned (exempt): Not “Lafreniere”, “Laferriere.” Different style of player. Point-per-game power forward was a sneaky grab for LA in the 3rd round. They have so many hot prospects headed for their top six they might not even notice he’s gone.
New Jersey Devils: LW Nolan Foote, $894,000 (exempt): Son of crushing NHL defenseman Adam Foote, he’s got two inches on his dad and delivers point-per-game performance with impressive plus-minus numbers.
New York Islanders: C Reece Newkirk, unsigned (exempt): You get good vision, quick hands, and grit with this Portland Winterhawks prospect, currently on loan to a Saskatchewan junior team where he is wiping the floor with the helpless competition.
New York Rangers: LW/RW Leevi Aaltonen, unsigned (exempt): This small, speedy Finn plays a responsible two-way game and yet has offensive upside. Explosive acceleration can confound defenders.
Pittsburgh Penguins: RW Kasperi Kapanen, $3.2 million (protected): Toronto had to reluctantly part ways with this speedy Finn due to cap considerations; at 24 years old he is only just scratching the surface of his NHL potential.
San Jose Sharks: C Alexander Chmelevski, $778,000 (exempt): This young Russian can play any forward position, and has graduated from a stunning offensive performance with the Ottawa 67’s to a 27-point rookie performance in the shortened AHL season.
St. Louis Blues: LW Hugh McGing, $883,750 (exempt): McGing is a bottom-six “character” guy and guaranteed fan favorite. 35 points in as many games while serving as the captain for Western Michigan last year, while posting a plus-18 rating.
Toronto Maple Leafs: RW Mitch Marner, $10.9 million (protected): No, I’m not kidding. Toronto was fielding offers on Marner last season, and moving one of their three $11-million players will instantly get them out of cap hell. This is the deal I hope the Kraken can pull off, because it solidifies the team as contenders from Day 1. Tentacles crossed.
Washington Capitals: RW Brett Leason, $842,500 (exempt): 6’4″ power forward with a quick, strong wrist shot. Put up exceptional offensive numbers in Juniors, and had a solid rookie showing in the AHL.
Winnipeg Jets: C David Gustafson, $817,500 (exempt): Two-way center who plays even strength, PP, and PK. He’s never going to make the highlight reel, but a he’s consistent presence in a shut-down role as 3rd line pivot.
Buffalo Sabres: LD Mattias Samuelsson, $925,000 (exempt): Another youngster with an NHL pedigree, this product of the USNTDP and Western Michigan brings size and leadership to the blue line, along with strong plus/minus numbers.
Calgary Flames: LD Johannes Kinnvall, $925,000 (exempt): Sweden produces some terrific defensemen, and Kinnvall fits the mold perfectly. He is coming into his own at age 23, and should adapt well to the North American game.
Chicago Blackhawks: RD Alec Regula, $866,667 (exempt): Last year with the OHL’s London Knights — 56 games, 23+37=60, plus-39. If he can do the same in the NHL, he’s got a Norris Trophy in his future.
Montreal Canadiens: LD Joel Edmundson, $3.5 million (protected): This effective stay-at-home defenseman rarely dents the scoresheet, but gets the job done in his own zone every night. 27 years old, and signed for another 3 years at a reasonable cap hit.
Philadelphia Flyers: RD Philippe Myers, $2.55 million (protected): 6’5″, 210 lbs. of stay-at-home defenseman, he will soon be logging top pairing minutes. Only 23 years old, he is signed for two more seasons.
Tampa Bay Lightning: RD Erik Cernak, $2.95 million (protected): 23 years old, 6’3″, 230 lbs., and consistently in the plus column. Could be the top-pairing anchor on the blueline for the next dozen years.
Vancouver Canucks: LD Jack Rathbone, $925,000 (exempt): Young blueliner with terrific offensive instincts still needs some seasoning. Looking like a strong power play quarterback; his first AHL season will tell the tale.
Boston Bruins: G Jeremy Swayman, $925,000 (exempt): Boston has two netminders in line for the #1 job once Tuukka Rask retires, so they may agree to part with one of them at the right price. Swayman is headed for the AHL after 3 seasons as the starting ‘keep for the University of Maine.
Florida Panthers: G Ryan Bednard, $817,500 (exempt): With Sergei Bobrovsky as the current starter and WJC gold medal winner Spencer Knight the heir apparent, there is no room for this 6’5″ netminder, who is showing a lot of promise.
Minnesota Wild: G Kaapo Kahkonen, $725,000 (protected – ?): If the Wild choose to protect newly-acquired netminder Cam Talbot, then we could just snatch Kahkonen for nothing. But my guess is Minnesota will protect the youngster rather than lose him without any compensation. He’ll be vying for a starter’s job in 1-2 years.
Nashville Predators: G Konstantin Volkov, unsigned (exempt): The Preds have Juuse Saros as their starter, with youngster Jaroslav Askarov in the wings. They have no place in the organ-eye-zation for Volkov, who shows as much promise as either aforementioned netminder.
Detroit Red Wings: Their roster is so pathetic that two things are true. First, we don’t want anybody from their team if we can avoid it. And secondly, they can’t afford to part with any of their developing talent. So give us the 1st or 2nd round pick, please and thank you.
Ottawa Senators: Despite off-season acquisitions that make them appear to be tooling up, this team is still firmly in re-build mode. They will finish dead last in the Canadian Division this season, and we’d like their highly-placed draft pick please.
The 2021 NHL season is about to get underway, and things are about to get hot and heavy here on Jet City Ice. Between now and July we will be looking at all 30 participating teams, one at a time. For every club we’ll do a deep dive on who they might protect, who is exempt, and who the Kraken might end up selecting.
This is all in preparation for our final mock draft, which will take place within 24 hours of the teams submitting their protected lists to the league. And of course you can count on us for a post-mortem once the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft is complete, breaking down the opening night roster and what the Kraken can look forward to in its prospect pool.
We hope you’ll visit us often and give us your thoughts as we get ready for the inaugural season of Seattle Kraken hockey!