It’s finally here.
We launched this site in July of 2019. After we went live I sat there thinking, “We’re not going to have a team for two effin’ years! What the hell am I going to write about?” We managed to fill the space and the time, but something amazing has happened.
That two years is up. The waiting is over. Tomorrow evening, we will have a team.
We’ve gone through the mock draft exercise three times now, exploring a straight draft, an all-UFA draft, and a let’s-make-a-deal draft. Now that the actual protected lists have been made public, it’s time for one more go-around.
My original concept for this was that I wanted to get as close as possible to the players that Ron Francis and his scouting staff will be selecting on Wednesday. But I realized that without accurate information about players that other clubs might be interested in acquiring, that was a fool’s errand.
So instead, this is the “Ride Or Die” version of the mock draft. If we’re down 3-2 with 5 minutes left in the 3rd period, five points out of a playoff spot, these are the players I want going over the boards. Some compromises must be made, as not every team has a player that falls into that category. But here we go…
Calgary Flames: LD Oiliver Kylington, RFA. We leave Mark Giordano with the team that first gave him a chance, and instead select a young, hybrid style Swedish defenseman who has a bright future ahead of him.
Edmonton Oilers: LW Tyler Benson, RFA. The pickin’s from Edmonton went from filet mignon to Jack In The Box, so we look to their minor league system. Benson is a speedy, point-per-game forward on his way to bigger things.
Montreal Canadiens: G Carey Price, $10.5 million AAV (5 years remaining). Yep, he’s worth it, injuries and all.
Ottawa Senators: RD Joshua Brown, $1.2 million AAV (1 year). 6’5″, 225 lb. right shot defenseman plays a stay-at-home style, and will deliver crushing (clean) checks on the bottom pairing.
Toronto Maple Leafs: LW Jared McCann, $2.94 million AAV (1 year). Picking up McCann was a master stroke by Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas, and he’s right: McCann is a better option than Kerfoot or Dermott. 2020-21 season: 14 goals, 18 assists, combined plus-17 over 43 games; Corsi-For percentage of 58.5.
Vancouver Canucks: RW Kole Lind, RFA. The primary goal for the selection from our main division rival is, don’t do them any favors. So no side deals, no taking on bad contracts. Instead we’re plucking a shoot-first winger with solid numbers in the AHL from their minor league affiliate.
Winnipeg Jets: RD Dylan DeMelo, $3 million AAV (3 years). Every blue line needs an anchor, and Winnipeg provides that with this stay-at-home defender. Blocks, hits, penalty killing, and solid plus-minus from this top-four defenseman.
Boston Bruins: RD Jeremy Lauzon, $850,000 AAV (1 year). Young puck-moving defenseman still takes care of business in the defensive zone.
Buffalo Sabres: F Drake Caggiula, UFA. Inexpensive character winger played for Kraken Head Coach Dave Hakstol at UMD.
New Jersey Devils: RW Nathan Bastian, $850,000 AAV (2 years). We’re making lemonade in New Jersey, as this big youngster is developing steadily in the AHL.
New York Islanders: LW Dmytro Timashov, RFA. Small, capable winger with explosive speed has been a playoff go-to in the AHL.
New York Rangers: RW Julien Gauthier, $775,000 AAV (1 year). One of Ron Francis’ first-round picks in Carolina is ready to land a spot on the roster in the NHL.
Philadelphia Flyers: RW James van Riemsdyk, $7 million AAV (2 years). Big player, big contract, big point totals.
Pittsburgh Penguins: LW Zach Aston-Reese, RFA. 8 seasons in the NCAA, AHL, and NHL, and not one year in the minus column. Not. One.
Washington Capitals: G Vitek Vanecek, $716,667 AAV (1 year). The kid is not without his issues, but overall he will be a solid backup to Price, and has shown he can handle the load if our starter spends the first part of the year on LTIR.
Carolina Hurricanes: LD Jake Bean, RFA. There are very few players who are on everyone’s mock drafts. Bean is one of them, and for good reason. This 23-year-old puck-moving defenseman has top-pairing potential, and may be there within as little as one year.
Chicago Blackhawks: RW Adam Gaudette, RFA. He’s coming off an off-year with Vancouver, but this multi-role forward goes to the dirty areas and is hard to knock off the puck.
Columbus Blue Jackets: RD Dean Kukan, $1.65 million AAV (1 year). The Swiss-born stay-at-home defenseman will fill out the bottom pairing and log big minutes on the penalty kill.
Dallas Stars: C Tanner Kero, $750,000 AAV (2 years). With Pavelski and Khudobin both out of reach, Kero is the only remaining choice. He would likely be the captain of the AHL affiliate, helping to nurture youngsters into the pro ranks.
Detroit Red Wings: RD Troy Stecher, $1.7 million AAV (1 year). Another UND veteran under Dave Hakstol, Stecher provides poise and a punishing shot from the point for the bottom two pairings.
Florida Panthers: RD Markus Nutivaara, $2.7 million AAV (1 year). I know the Kraken are likely selecting G Chris Driedger, but we’re going a different direction. This Finnish-born defender has speed and smarts, good positioning, and solid stats.
Nashville Predators: F Calle Jarnkrok, $2 million AAV (1 year). Nashville using the 8-and-1 protection scheme allowed us to select this reliable utility forward. 508 NHL games, 211 points, and a combined plus-59 over 8 seasons.
Tampa Bay Lightning: F Yanni Gourde, $5.167 million (4 years). Tampa opened up their buffet of forwards, and this is the cream of the crop. Small, fast, big point producer, and two Stanley Cup rings.
Anaheim Ducks: RD Kevin Shattenkirk, $3.9 million AAV (2 years). Here is your power play quarterback and blue line mentor — possibly team captain.
Arizona Coyotes: RW Christian Fischer, $1 million AAV (1 year). Taking G Adin Hill out of the equation made this meaty bottom-six winger the best option available.
Colorado Avalanche: RW Joonas Donskoi, $3.9 million AAV (2 years). Top-line winger will hopefully flourish even more in an expanded role.
Los Angeles Kings: C Blake Lizotte, $800,000 AAV (1 year). Quick and smart pivot holds his own at the face-off dot, and hopefully can build on two promising seasons with the Kings.
Minnesota Wild: G Kaapo Kahkonen, $725,000 AAV (1 year). With Price and Vanecek in the fold, it’s likely a “sell high” scenario for this promising young goaltender.
San Jose Sharks: C Alex True, RFA. The big Dane has performed well at every level to date, and will be looking to make the jump to the NHL.
St. Louis Blues: LD Vince Dunn, RFA. The 24-year-old already has four full seasons in the NHL with the Blues, and is delivering on early promise. Would likely garner significant interest in a flip scenario.
There you go: 17 forwards, 10 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders; 20 players under contract; slightly below $52.1 million cap hit, leaving plenty of room to go after multiple free agents. Results can be found on the handiest web site in all of sports, CapFriendly.com.
On the topic of free agents, after the flurry of activity in the last several weeks the primary targets I’m hoping the Kraken will make a run for are forwards Brandon Saad and Phillip Danault, defensemen Tyson Barrie or Dougie Hamilton (getting both would likely be redundant), and depending on how the Carey Price situation resolves, either Phillip Grubauer or Frederik Andersen in goal.
I still don’t see a genuine #1 center on the free agent list — or more accurately, not one who Seattle can sign and expect to perform at an elite level for 3-5 years — and we’re certainly not getting one in the expansion draft. So that remains the biggest question mark as the Kraken get… crackin’…
It seems like this is almost the end of an era; we have been navigating these team-without-players waters for so long, and that’s about to end.
This site started as an off-handed comment to my wife. Here we are two years later with tens of thousands of views, nearly 100 articles, and on the cusp of an epic adventure. I don’t know what the future holds for us, or the team, but before things get really nuts I wanted to say thank you. Your participation in this little endeavor has made it all worthwhile, and I genuinely appreciate it.
We won’t have a full picture of who will be in the opening night lineup until at least mid-August, but tune in to ESPN2 Wednesday night at 5pm Pacific to see the Seattle Kraken roster officially start to take shape. We will be live-tweeting the action as the names are announced, complete with links and commentary. Join us at @JetCityIce as we celebrate the historic birth of the newest NHL franchise!