The Seattle Kraken expansion draft has officially come and go, marking a new era in National Hockey League history. Unlike its predecessor, the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017, however, the Kraken took a different approach to this expansion draft.
In a way, it was almost as if the Vegas draft was a masterclass in how to maximize your assets, cap space, and taking advantage of other general managers. Former general manager George McPhee walked away with a number of free assets, including key contributors in Alex Tuch (Minnesota), William Karlsson (Columbus), Shea Theodore (Anaheim) and Jonathan Marchessault (Florida). This time, though, other executives around the league were not as quick to budge, as Seattle general manager Ron Francis demanded exuberant prices in order to stay off of certain players on certain teams.
Despite this, Seattle did not make any trades or handshake agreements prior to the draft. The team may flip drafted played into capital after the trade freeze lifts on July 22 at 1 p.m. ET, as they almost have to given that the roster can hold 23 come training camp and the Kraken had to select 30, but Seattle essentially got the team it wanted with no restrictions.
That fact left many people shaking their heads. Detailed below are the players the Kraken took on Wednesday night (or morning if you were following along on Twitter), alongside analysis and who I would have picked in the situation.
Team: Anaheim Ducks
Who they picked: Haydyn Fleury (D)
Who I had: Alexander Volkov (F)
Analysis: I cannot necessarily blame the Kraken for this pick – one of two Fleury brothers that the team took during the draft. In hindsight, it is easy to see coming. Francis drafted Fleury in 2014 (seventh overall) while with Carolina. Fleury can bring some stability and upside to a young defense, along with having some room to grow. I preferred Volkov’s offensive abilities as he was sheltered in Anaheim and Tampa Bay, so hopefully he gets a shot somewhere.
Team: Arizona Coyotes
Who they picked: Tyler Pitlick
Who I had: Christian Fischer
Analysis: I personally liked Fischer’s upside as a former high second round pick, but Pitlick makes a lot of sense. He can do it all and play all three forward slots as well as kill penalties. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculates that Pitlick may be already flipped for assets starting tomorrow once the freeze ends. Not too much to complain about here, so a good start so far for the Kraken. Spoiler: it gets worse.
Team: Boston Bruins
Who they picked: Jeremy Lauzon
Who I had: Connor Clifton
Analysis: Lauzon has the draft prowess as a higher pick a few years ago, but he has not put it all together and was barely able to crack a weak Bruins left side. Clifton is a speedy Quinnipiac graduate with upside as a two way defenseman. After watching Lauzon this playoffs, I feel as though the Kraken had better options.
Team: Buffalo Sabres
Who they picked: Will Borgen
Who I had: Will Borgen
Analysis: We agree! Buffalo’s protection list, much like the future there, was pretty brutal. Borgen showed some promise in an otherwise pitiful season for Buffalo, so might as well take a chance on him.
Team: Calgary Flames
Who they picked: Mark Giordano
Who I had: Mark Giordano
Analysis: We are hitting a roll here. Giordano as the obvious choice. A captain, steady defenseman, and on an expiring contract. The Kraken will hold onto him for now but almost surely flip him at the deadline to a contender. Good value pick here.
Team: Carolina Hurricanes
Who they picked: Morgan Geekie
Who I had: Jake Bean
Analysis: Bean, a 13th overall pick in 2016 under Francis, was the consensus pick among fans. Francis opted for Geekie instead, a player he also drafted in Carolina. Bean has the higher ceiling, but you get a more consistent player in Geekie. Francis knows them better than I do, so we give the Kraken a win here. I’m excited to see what Geekie does with bigger minutes.
Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Who they picked: John Quenneville
Who I had: Adam Gaudette
Analysis: Welcome to the first of many head scratchers. Quenneville, a UFA non the less, has played 42 NHL games since being drafted in 2014. In that time, he has five points. This just seems like a complete throwaway pick. Why not go with Gaudette, who can slot into a center role that is hard to come by? I know you have to shed some players before camp, but this does not seem like the way to go.
Team: Colorado Avalanche
Who they picked: Jonas Donskoi
Who I had: J.T. Compher
Analysis: Again, I felt the Kraken needed centers and thought Compher would do well in an increased role. I see the love for Donskoi, though, a proven player and penalty kill guy. Fair tradeoff here.
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Who they picked: Gavin Beyreuther
Who I had: Dean Kukan
Analysis: Again, I have no clue what this is. Beyreuther has bounced around in the AHL while amassing 28 NHL games. No offense to him, but there are better choices out there. Also, can someone give Dean Kukan a chance for crying out loud? After being stuck behind Zach Werenski and David Savard, he deserves it.
Team: Dallas Stars
Who they picked: Jamie Oleksiak
Who I had: Nick Caamano
Analysis: I see the appeal here with a big body on defense, but man, the contract he signed is bad. Seattle locked him up at $4.6 annually for five years, which seems 1-2 years and $1.5 million steep. Good for Francis for getting “his guy” in a player they targeted and wanted to be there, all things considered. I had Caamano as an energy guy up front.
Team: Detroit Red Wings
Who they picked: Dennis Cholowski
Who I had: Dennis Cholowski
Analysis: We agree again, and this is a good bet. Cholowski was a first round pick in 2016 and never got a full chance with Detroit, so hopefully he gets it in Seattle. A smooth skated with good instincts.
Team: Edmonton Oilers
Who they picked: Adam Larsson
Who I had: Tyler Benson
Analysis: Larsson makes sense as long as you sign him, which they did. Edmonton is probably happy to keep Benson yet upset to see Larsson go. I like this pick for Seattle, but I stayed away due to the uncertainty.
Team: Florida Panthers
Who they picked: Chris Dreidger
Who I had: Chris Dreidger
Analysis: We knew this beforehand, so it was not really a surprise. Curious to see what Dreidger does with the full starter responsibility. He deserves it. Does he flame out like Martin Jones, or does he become a stud like Jack Campbell?
Team: Los Angeles Kings
Who they picked: Kurtis MacDermid
Who I had: Carl Grundstrom
Analysis: They picked a big, defensive defenseman with limited experience over a high upside NHL caliber forward. I don’t have enough bad things to say about this one.
Team: Minnesota Wid
Who they picked: Carson Soucy
Who I had: Kaapo Kahkonen
Analysis: I thought Seattle would want four goalies, but they went with three for now. Soucy is a tough, big defenseman not afraid to throw the body. Noticing a trend? At least the Kraken will be intimidating to play against.
Team: Montreal Canadiens
Who they picked: Cale Fleury
Who I had: Carey Price
Analysis: Oh man, the smirk on Ron Francis’ face after the crowd in Seattle groaned at this pick was priceless. I understand why the Kraken did not want to do it. Price is on the books for another five years at $10.5 million which takes him until he is 38-years-old. He is also due a signing bonus soon. But, how can you not? Fleury is a good prospect but nothing special. Price, although regressing, is still a face of the league. He played his junior hockey for Tri-State in Washington. He puts fans in the seats and names on the back of jerseys. Plus, look how good Marc-Andre Fleury did with Vegas and how he became an ambassador there. It could have been so fun. Good on Bergevin for sticking to his guns, though – that was impressive.
Team: Nashville Predators
Who they picked: Calle Jarnkrok
Who I had: Calle Jarnkrok
Analysis: Cheap, moveable, can play all positions up front and both special teams. Plus, he is at a very reasonable $2 million tag. This made way too much sense.
Team: New Jersey Devils
Who they picked: Nathan Bastian
Who I had: Andreas Johnsson
Analysis: The Kraken went with energy over skill here, which I understand. I had Caamano (Dallas) in this role, so it makes sense that they wanted to fill it.
Team: New York Islanders
Who they picked: Jordan Eberle
Who I had: Jordan Eberle
Analysis: Josh Bailey was certainly an intriguing option, as was former first round pick Kieffer Bellows, but Eberle’s high-end skill was too much to pass up. Three more years at $5.5 million per season is a tad steep, though.
Team: New York Rangers
Who they picked: Colin Blackwell
Who I had: Julien Gauthier
Analysis: Rumors of a Mark Giordano trade to the Rangers fell apart, so Seattle went with Blackwell here. It is hard to blame them as Blackwell is a solid bottom-six contributor at only $725,000 on the books. I am surprised Francis did not take his former pick, Gauthier, though.
Team: Ottawa Senators
Who they picked: Joey Daccord
Who I had: Joey Daccord
Analysis: Someone has to fill out the minors, and Daccord still has potential. It was a better option than some other high salary guys that Ottawa left exposed.
Team: Philadelphia Flyers
Who they picked: Carsen Twarnyski
Who I had: Carsen Twarnyski
Analysis: I feel proud of this one. Seattle did not seem to go the high salary route, leaving Jake Voracek and James van Riemsdyk on the outside. Twaryski is a good, high energy player than Flyer coach Alain Vigneault liked. This is a good selection.
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Who they picked: Brandon Tanev
Who I had: Marcus Pettersson
Analysis: Tanev is a fantastic player, albeit locked up for way too many years. Passing up on a true shutdown defenseman like Pettersson is tough. Tanev should do well there, as he seemed to embrace the Seattle crowd, but there were better options on the board.
Team: San Jose Sharks
Who they picked: Alex True
Who I had: Dylan Gambrell
Analysis: Gambrell or Ryan Donato seemed like the clear choices, but neither was picked. True is a 6-foot-5 Danish forward and cousin of Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers. I don’t know much about him, so let’s see in a few years how this looks.
Team: St. Louis Blues
Who they picked: Vince Dunn
Who I had: Vladimir Tarasenko
Analysis: Much like Montreal and Price, Seattle elected to go cheaper and more controlled here with Dunn over Tarasenko. Dunn is a great player (with some baggage), and Tarasenko is injury prone, but expansion teams need top end talent to make a scene. This seems like one where they should have swung for the fences.
Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
Who they picked: Yanni Gourde
Who I had: Yanni Gourde
Analysis: Fantastic selection. Gourde is everything you want for a middle-six guy in today’s NHL – fast, pesky, defends well, and hits. His line with Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman was integral to Tampa Bay’s two straight Stanley Cup runs. It’ll be interesting to see him under a heightened role.
Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Who they picked: Jared McCann
Who I had: Jared McCann
Analysis: The Leafs traded a prospect and a late pick to Pittsburgh for McCann a few days prior to the draft, which seems like a play to keep Seattle away from other players. Everyone seemed to think it would be Alex Kerfoot, but why would Seattle want an arguably lesser player that is hitting UFA soon, whereas McCann will be an RFA? It made too much sense. I am pinning him as this team’s William Karlsson.
Team: Vancouver Canucks
Who they picked: Kole Lind
Who I had: Kole Lind
Analysis: Seattle got a good prospect from its rival here. Time will tell if he establishes himself.
Team: Washington Capitals
Who they picked: Vitek Vanacek
Who I had: Brendan Dillon
Analysis: Dillon has a lot of value around the league, but Vanacek made sense without Price of Kahkonen. He showed a lot of promise last season when Ilya Samsonov went down with injury. I could really see him turning into a stud and stealing the net for Seattle.
Team: Winnipeg Jets
Who they picked: Mason Appleton
Who I had: Dylan Demelo
Analysis: After passing on centers earlier, Seattle got the guy with Appleton. Demelo is solid, but with the way they drafted, there was no need for more defense.