Teams in the West Division were not as busy in the days leading up to the roster freeze, but two of the deals were gut-punches to the Seattle Kraken. Here’s the summary of the action.
Arizona was a pretty big player in the days leading up to the roster freeze. They loaded up on mid-round draft picks courtesy of the New York Islanders in exchange for taking Andrew Ladd and his LTIR contract off their hands. But the more significant move was trading goaltender Adin Hill, considered the consensus pick from the Coyotes, to San Jose for netminder Josef Korenar.
Hill is a definitive upgrade from either Korenar or Sharks’ starting goaltender Martin Jones, so he is expected to be the one protected in San Jose. This leaves little more than table scraps on the Arizona roster, with the likes of Christian Fischer, Tyler Pitlick, and Ilya Lyubushkin in the ranks of exposed players.
Avs GM Joe Sakic landed the most decisive and punishing blow in the hours leading up to the roster freeze, sending future top-pairing defenseman Ryan Graves to New Jersey for a 2nd round pick and a prospect. This takes him off the board altogether, as New Jersey is a lock to protect him. Thanks, Joe.
We had originally planned to publish this article prior to the release of the protected lists. No going back now, but since we have the benefit of complete knowledge, we can share with you that there are still two solid choices available from the Avalanche: right wings Joonas Donskoi and J.T. Compher. Either would be solid selections, and could also draw interest in the trade market if chosen by Seattle.
The news out of Minnesota was always going to be what happens to the two 13-year, < $7.4 million contracts held by forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. The answer came this week when Wild GM Bill Guerin bought out both contracts, sending both veterans to the large and growing heap of unrestricted free agents available at the end of the month.
The result for Minnesota is that they can utilize the 7-3-1 protection scheme without fear of losing enigmatic defender Matthew Dumba, and that limits the options for the Seattle Kraken on draft day. Forwards Victor Rask and Nick Bjugstad are the odd-men out, as is defender Carson Soucy; but the drama in Minnesota will come in goal, where the decision to protect starter Cam Talbot and expose unproven wunderkind Kaapo Kahkonen will likely be the primary point of discussion among Kraken scouts.
San Jose Sharks
The goalie swap with Arizona is the headline here; otherwise the Sharks roster is so devoid of interesting options as to make the protected list more or less moot.
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis was quiet on Saturday, and in fact hasn’t made a roster move since last October. The only noteworthy item was the announcement that once-lethal sniper Vladimir Tarasenko, a shadow of his former self following shoulder surgery, would be (and as we know now, was) left exposed. This should come as a surprise to nobody, with his performance the last two seasons coming nowhere close to the $7.5 million AAV he is being paid. The high price tag and history of injuries will likely keep the Kraken’s eyes focused on other assets, namely forward Zach Sanford and defenseman Vince Dunn.