Seattle Kraken Expansion Mock Draft
With the addition of the 32nd National Hockey League (NHL) Franchise, the Seattle Kraken, the expansion draft they are undertaking is like Christmas for anyone who loves roster management as much as watching the sport. In this article, James Finch and Kyle Stich are joining together to go through how they would approach the expansion draft. Some things to keep in mind: 1) This is how they would approach the expansion draft if they were Ron Francis. 2) Both have done their best to make realistic decisions. 3) We have done our best to not go overboard with trades and side-deals but without having inside knowledge of discussions there could be some deals that are on the table that we did not consider but would take if we knew they were possible. Conversely, we may make some deals that one or both teams involved have no interest in. With that in mind, let’s go through our decisions for each team. We will try to briefly explain our considerations and our thought process for arriving at each pick for each team. Big thanks to Capfriendly.com for their expansion tool. Let’s get Kraken!
James: The first thing that comes to mind when looking at the unprotected players from Anaheim is that nobody truly sticks out. I will most likely be interested in trading whoever I take from Anaheim. With that in mind, I’m looking mostly at Danton Heinen and Kevin Shattenkirk with this pick.
Shattenkirk could be a valuable second or third pairing defenseman, as well as a possible powerplay option, for a team starting from scratch. He could also bring a veteran presence to a team in need. However, I think I will be able to find other players to provide the same type of impact who are younger. Those characteristics could be valuable in a trade, so Shattenkirk is my pick.
Selection: Kevin Shattenkirk
Kyle: To me there are four possibilities unless Anaheim really wants to make it worth my time to take Adam Henrique. Considering they seem to be a team undergoing some level of rebuild, they are probably not too interested in giving up a premium asset to have me take Henrique. With that off the table, I would be considering Sonny Milano, Kevin Shattenkirk, Haydn Fleury, and Jacob Larsson. Frankly, none of the players are must haves for me and like James chose to do, I would be very open to flipping my selection from Anaheim to another team.
Ultimately, I went for the youngest, cheapest, and highest upside player of the four and selected Haydn Fleury. My objective with him (or another selection) is to flip him for a decent prospect who is waiver exempt and/or draft pick to help build my farm system.
Selection: Haydn Fleury
James: The Coyotes don’t have much to worry about with expansion because there are no key players left unprotected. I’m not interested in any of their UFA’s and the players under contract are easily replaceable. I’m going to take Josef Korenar, an AHL goalie that Arizona just acquired in a deal for Adin Hill. Adding some goalie depth in the AHL is important for the organization. This pick provides that.
Selection: Josef Korenar
Kyle: I know Christian Fischer is a popular pick here and I don’t mind that idea, but I’m concerned of the direction of his underlying numbers where I see a somewhat weak Coyotes’ team getting worse with him on the ice and it has been getting worse and not better over the past few years. Could a change of scenery/coaching system turn things around for him? Possibly. With how my roster shapes out, I don’t really see a spot for him in my lineup so I will take a chance on a different player. My selection came down to Michael Bunting and Lane Pederson who have shown flashes when given the opportunity but have a very small sample size or taking and signing Antti Raanta.
My selection here was Michael Bunting who went on a scoring streak to close out last season while also improving Arizona’s shot metrics. He is someone I can probably sign cheaply and potentially sneak him through waivers if he doesn’t stick as a depth forward.
Selection: Michael Bunting
James: At first, this pick was not clear to me. I see that Ondrej Kase is available. Maybe a couple seasons ago, he’d be the definite pick. Things have gone downhill since he was traded to Boston. He is crossed off the list. There are some bottom pair (at best) defensemen available in Zboril, Lauzon, and Clifton. And there is Nick Ritchie.
The more I looked, the more clear it was that picking Ritchie was the best decision. His underlying numbers are decent and he provides that quick and heavy game that is often seen in the Western Conference. I think that he will be a great addition to the third line of this team.
Selection: Nick Ritchie
Kyle: This was one of the toughest decisions and one I changed multiple times as I built out my roster. I considered Ondrej Kase, Karson Kuhlman, Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Nick Ritchie, and even Mike Reilly. If Boston called me and was offering an asset while also allowing me to select any of these players, I probably go for. If Kase could stay healthy, I would have been very tempted to select him outright. Kuhlman has put up tremendous shot metrics in limited time. I then liked the fit of Nick Ritchie on my third line but worried about the cost of his next contract. Although most of my decisions were driven by shot metrics, this one goes a little counter to that as I ended up selecting one of the defensemen who all made the Bruins worse while on the ice.
Ultimately, I went with the cheapest, youngest, and one who seems to have the most buzz in Jeremy Lauzon. I don’t know if I love this selection but from an asset management and roster building standpoint, Lauzon makes the most sense. I see him much like Haydn Fleury. I could easily envision him in my lineup but if I can get a sweet offer to flip him, I would strongly consider doing so.
Selection: Jeremy Lauzon (or someone that I have a side deal to trade)
James: If Buffalo wants me to stay away from Will Borgen, I’m going to need some value. I don’t have interest in taking on any money in this deal either. Buffalo will send me FLA’s 2021 3rd round pick to take someone other than Borgen.
I ended up taking Steven Fogarty. His game was respectable when he saw time in Buffalo this past season on the fourth line. Ultimately, I will try to re-sign him to be my captain in the AHL and serve as some useful forward depth.
Selection: Steven Fogarty and FLA 2021 3rd Round Pick
Kyle: Buffalo doesn’t have a lot to offer. I don’t have interest in taking Jeff Skinner because of his contract unless Buffalo is going to give me some crazy incentive to do so. If I needed a depth forward, I might look to Zemgus Girgensons but there are plenty of better options to fill that role. The only reason I might go Girgensons without an incentive is because the opportunity cost of selecting him is a lot less than other similar players. I probably could talk myself into it if he were not coming off a season-ending injury.
Otherwise, my focus is on a defenseman. Jake McCabe is an intriguing option but without being in the Kraken front office, I have too many unknowns to make this. First, I already have a lot of left-shot defensemen. If I can make some side-deals, to flip a couple, McCabe becomes a little more interesting. Second, I don’t know how his knee has healed. Finally, I don’t know what type of contract he is looking for. If I had more clarity on those, he might be the pick. Otherwise, my selection would come down to Will Borgen or Colin Miller unless I can extract an asset from Buffalo to steer me otherwise.
I originally had Will Borgen but after seeing how my roster filled out, did not see a spot for him and likely would have had to put him on waivers. With Buffalo having the top priority, they could have just taken him back. Maybe I can flip him to another team for an asset. To make things easy, I ask Buffalo for a middle-round draft pick to not take Borgen. I get that and take a flyer and select Andrew Oglevie with the intention of sending him to the AHL.
Selection: Andrew Oglevie and a 3rd round draft pick
James: This is an easy pick for me. While his career may be close to coming to an end, Mark Giordano is still playing pretty well. Looking at all the defenseman available in the draft, he may be one of the more reliable defenseman for me to have on my top pair. His $6.75 million dollar deal only has one season left, giving much flexibility if things do not go well. Oliver Kylington and Tyler Parsons stick out as possibilities, but I don’t see either providing the impact that I believe Giordano will for my team.
Selection: Mark Giordano
Kyle: Calgary has one huge name, who comes with a huge contract, in Mark Giordano, and a couple intriguing young players. Ultimately, I do not have the salary cap space to take Giordano and make some of the other moves that I hope to make. My two other serious contenders for this pick are Oliver Kylington and Tyler Parsons.
With not much to choose from, I quickly settled on another young, left-shot defenseman in Oliver Kylington. He has put up some quality shot metrics and plays in a way I prefer my defensemen to. Much like Fleury and Lauzon, I would be very open to flipping him to another team as I don’t envision having room for all three of those left defensemen.
Selection: Oliver Kylington
James: I’m tempted to take Dougie Hamilton, but I have a plan to take some other UFA’s in the draft and don’t want to have too many possible unknowns. Nino Niederreiter stands out as an underrated forward, but I’m going to go with a younger, more controllable player in Jake Bean. The former first rounder should fit nicely on the bottom pair of this team and grow into a legitimate top four defenseman. I imagine that the Hurricanes won’t be thrilled to lose Bean, but still having Niederreiter is a nice consolation prize.
Selection: Jake Bean
Kyle: There are some fantastic options available from Carolina. I love the prospect of adding any of Nino Niederreiter, Dougie Hamilton, and Jake Bean. I’m going to use my negotiating window to work out a deal with Hamilton. However, there is nothing preventing me from holding off until the official start of free agency to have that contract signed. With a $63M, seven-year contract agreed to with Hamilton, I turn my attention to selecting one of Niederreiter or Bean.
I already have enough young, left-shot defensemen so adding Bean, at the cost of passing on Niederreiter doesn’t seem to be the most efficient asset management strategy. I’m sure I could flip Bean but is the return going to be as good as Niederreiter? I don’t think so. I happily make analytic darling, Nino Niederreiter, my selection and have plans for pairing him with another analytic darling.
Selection: Nino Niederreiter
James: There really is not much available from Chicago. Ryan Carpenter ends up being my selection as someone who can fight for a spot on the fourth line and may get scratched quite a bit this season. He is a cheap veteran that is the definition of depth.
Selection: Ryan Carpenter
Kyle: Another team with limited quality options available. I could justify picking any of Brett Connolly, Vinnie Hinostroza, Adam Gaudette, Calvin de Haan, Nikita Zadorov, Malcom Subban, or Colin Delia. I also almost took Anton Lindholm to help satisfy my defensemen requirement but would have had no intention of signing him. Another consideration for Chicago is to take someone and flip them to another team. Zadorov is probably the prime candidate for that. I really like the shot metrics Hinostroza has put up throughout his career but would be worried about the number of games he has missed throughout his career. If he agrees to a veteran minimum contract prior to the expansion draft, I might roll the dice on him.
Ultimately, I opted for a player who has shown tremendous flashes, especially in controlling shot quality, in previous stops in his career and selected Brett Connolly. I don’t love his contract and might try to bluff Chicago into giving me something to select him over Zadorov but if they call my bluff, I might look pretty foolish in still selecting Connolly.
Selection: Brett Connolly
James: Moving Ryan Graves was smart because he would be the pick here. Without Graves on the table, Joonas Donskoi seems to be my choice of players under contract. However, I’m going to gamble and negotiate a deal with Gabriel Landeskog to be the first captain of the Seattle Kraken. Donskoi is a decent third liner, but it isn’t enough to keep me from Landeskog.Signing Landeskog now prevents him from hitting the open market and creating a bidding war. With an agreed to 7 year deal at an $8,000,000AAV, the team now has a legitimate top line forward.
Selection: Gabriel Landeskog
Kyle: It seems like Gabriel Landeskog is gaining a little momentum as the selection, but I don’t know if Landeskog agrees to a contract in the negotiating window to make him the selection. There could be the possibility to pivot back, I’m going to move past making him or Brandon Saad as my selection and spend my cap space in other ways. I ultimately went back and forth between J.T. Compher and Joonas Donskoi, who have produced similar numbers the past couple of years and have very similar contracts. Neither are can’t miss players and I would certainly entertain an offer from Colorado to steer my selection.
Ultimately, I went with the cheaper, younger, and more versatile player in J.T. Compher. I’m not anticipating him playing more than a bottom six role on my team so he could be a prime flip candidate if some other team is in love with him.
Selection: J.T. Compher
Columbus Blue Jackets
James: This is very easy. Max Domi. I don’t believe he was the right fit in Columbus. I like him at center on a line that is primarily used in the offensive zone. I believe he can get back to looking like a clear top six center if used correctly.
Selection: Max Domi
Kyle: In my opinion, there are three and only three options to select from Columbus unless they are giving me some crazy incentive. If Seattle voluntarily selects anyone but Max Domi, Dean Kukan, or possibly Gabriel Carlsson, I would be shocked. Max Domi seems to be a popular selection but his $5.3M cap hit is a little too steep for a player whose performance has been steadily declining.
Instead of taking a flyer on Domi or Carlsson, I select underrated right-shot defenseman, Dean Kukan. Kukan has very quietly put-up quality shot metrics for the Blue Jackets over the past couple seasons. He is also signed to a very cheap contract and at worst I can likely flip him at the trade deadline. I envision him playing a longer-term role on my team.
Selection: Dean Kukan
James: Dallas has some interesting options available for me. I could sign Jamie Oleksiak, but I think I will have an abundance of defensemen similar to him already. Ben Bishop is a great name, but I worry about his recent injury history and am not willing to take on his contract. This leads me to a player who has yet to make an NHL impact.
Adam Mascherin is a prospect center going into his age 23 season. He just put together a solid AHL campaign with 34 points in 37 games. I plan to start him out in the AHL this season, but he could push his way into the NHL lineup if he continues to build on his breakout year.
Selection: Adam Mascherin
Kyle: I’m not taking Ben Bishop. With him off the table, there are very few options I have interest in. I could gamble on one of the younger forwards. Joel Hanley is an interesting depth defenseman option, who has put up decent shot metrics. The problem is I really don’t need another bottom four, left-shot defenseman. Again, flipping him could be a possibility. From an asset management standpoint, Colton Point could be an under-the-radar selection. He hasn’t put up numbers that make him stand out, but he is a goalie who is waiver exempt. However, I have some other options to fill that void and unless there is a trade on the table for one of those options, I don’t need Point.
I don’t love the idea of making an unrestricted free agent as my selection, but Dallas doesn’t have enough options to be overly concerned. I am signing and selecting Jamie Oleksiak to a four-year, $20M contract to play on my top pair with Dougie Hamilton.
Selection: Jamie Oleksiak
Detroit Red Wings
James: There are a lot of different players who could possibly become decent third line options in the future or maybe turn into a second-pair defenseman. My selection, I would argue, is already a second-pair option.
Troy Stecher an underrated “defensive” defensemen and will have some value on the trade market. While he is a decent player, I don’t think he will fit into my plans due to an abundance of defensemen available.
Selection: Troy Stetcher
Kyle: Detroit is interesting. I considered a wide range of players, with my focus most on Vladislav Namestnikov, Evgeny Svechnikov, Taro Hirose, Troy Stetcher, Christian Djoos, and Dennis Cholowski. As I started to build out my team, I realized I could have a team that could compete right out of the gate. I leaned on who has shown to be the best player in regard to controlling the shot quantity and quality. I don’t think any of the younger players have shown enough to gamble on them and I would worry about finding a spot on my team for them anyways.
My selection is Troy Stetcher, a player who has been a fairly strong play-driver and has experience playing in the Pacific Division.
Selection: Troy Stetcher
James: There is not an NHL player available in expansion that I want to take from this Edmonton team. That helps me narrow down my selection fairly easily to Tyler Benson. Once seen as a future top six player next to McDavid, he hasn’t reached the NHL as quickly as many fans were hoping he would. Now being left unprotected heading into his age 23 season, I am going to bank on that potential still being there. Benson will start off in the AHL again and look to build on a point per game season.
Selection: Tyler Benson
Kyle: Edmonton is another team that I am not overly impressed with the options and would expect Seattle to need to be incentivized to select a player who is not Jujhar Khaira, Dominik Kahun, or Tyler Benson. Khaira would be a nice depth player, but I think there are better options out there to fill that role. I’m mostly between Kahun and Benson.
Ultimately, I chose to make Benson my selection. I need to add some players that I hope I can slip through waivers to send to the AHL. Otherwise, I will have to trade or draft players with no intention of signing them. My goal is to build an organization, not just a NHL team. Benson has lit up the AHL so maybe he can become a surprise player for my organization.
Selection: Tyler Benson
James: At this point, we know this is going to be Chris Driedger. He will be part of a tandem splitting time for me, unless one pulls away from the other.
Selection: Chris Driedger
Kyle: I decided to save time and just went with the selection that Seattle is rumored to be making.
Selection: Chris Driedger
Los Angeles Kings
James: There is some young talent on the board here (already crossed off Jonathan Quick). Athanasiou, Lizotte, and Wagner could all be useful for my bottom six. However, there is one player available who I think has more potential.
Kale Clague is my pick. The defenseman didn’t have the NHL start he wanted and is now left unprotected. He’ll only be 23, and there is still time to regroup in the AHL. That will be the plan for Clague at the start of the season, and hopefully he forces his way into my lineup or becomes a useful trade chip.
Selection: Kale Clague
Kyle: Jonathan Quick should not be the selection. With that out of the way, Los Angeles has a lot of interesting young players that could easily be justified as the pick. However, there is no one to get overly excited about either. Seattle will be picking someone who they think has the best potential. The Kings could also be used to help meet position requirements, which is how I ended up at my selection. I think Brendan Lemieux, Andreas Athanasiou, Blake Lizotte, and Carl Grundstrom are all forwards worthy of selection. However, I needed help hitting my defense quota.
My selection was Kale Clague, who has shown to be a pretty good possession driver in a limited sample. I would hope to sneak him to the AHL prior to the season.
Selection: Kale Clague
James: This pick comes down to either Carson Soucy or Kaapo Kahkonen. Neither sticks out more than the other, so my decision comes down to how my roster is being built. With a couple other goalies in mind, I’m going to use the selection on Soucy.
Soucy seems to be a bottom pair defenseman who can fill in higher in the lineup. My team most likely will be deep enough defensively that he could get pushed out of the lineup. That’ll make him a prime trade candidate.
Selection: Carson Soucy
Kyle: I could see an outside chance of Seattle signing Nick Bonino or Ian Cole and making them their selection. The only three players under contract that I would think are under consideration for Seattle are Nick Bjugstad, Carson Soucy, and Kaapo Kahkonen. Soucy fits the same profile as a lot of other defensemen that I have already selected. If there is a demand for these younger, left-shot defenseman Soucy could be the selection. However, I really like what Kahkonen provides.
My selection from Minnesota is Kaapo Kahkonen. He checks a lot of boxes for me. He is a young, waiver exempt goalie who has shown he can play in the NHL. The flexibility he provides the organization makes him well worth the selection.
Selection: Kaapo Kahkonen
James: I don’t want to get stuck with a contract like Price’s. There is one player here who I think is underrated and it is Brett Kulak. He will be my selection. While there may be an abundance of defenseman on my team, I am very happy to have him as an extra or on my bottom pair. He could be useful playing up in the lineup if need be. That being said, if a team came calling, I would be willing to part with him for the right price.
Selection: Brett Kulak
Kyle: I am not touching Carey Price or Shea Weber. I don’t know Jonathan Drouin’s situation so I don’t want to gamble on his cap hit. I like Phillip Danault but like Landeskog, expect him to want to test the open market. I think this selection is pretty easy.
I’m selecting Brett Kulak, to pair with Dean Kukan and make a very underrated bottom four defensive pair. Much of what I said for Kukan applies here too. Plus we all deserve a Kulak-Kukan pair.
Selection: Brett Kulak
James: There is absolutely no way I am taking Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene from the Predators without an unreasonable amount of compensation for doing so. I do not want those contracts. There are other players available like Jarnkrok and Grimaldi, but my intention is to use the pick to get more depth.
Yakov Trenin is the pick. A decent AHL forward, he is still just 25 and could be brought up if injuries struck the team. I’d rather bring in a cheap contract here and add valuable depth than create a bigger deal that could leave be with a bad contract.
Selection: Yakov Trenin
Kyle: I’m still mystified at Nashville’s expansion draft strategy. They made multiple trades that resulted in fairly weak returns and ended up protecting someone who is at best a 3rd pair defenseman. It seems they are looking to rebuild or re-tool and would like to shed one of their big salary centers, Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene. I’m willing to oblige for a price, which I think I can get. If we look to Vegas, we see they were able to build a solid roster with the exception of having a top center. If I can extract some assets and fill that void, I’m willing to do it.
With me agreeing to take one of Johansen or Duchene, the decision comes down to which one. I think an argument can be made for each. Duchene is probably a better offensive producer but Johansen is probably a better two-way player. I’ll opt for the younger Johansen, who also has less term remaining. I also feel as if Nashville would rather move on from him. To take Johansen, at full price, I will receive David Farrance and Nashville’s 1st round pick.
Selection: Ryan Johansen with David Farrance and 19th overall
New Jersey Devils
James: There are some recognizable names in New Jersey, like P.K. Subban and Andreas Johnsson. It is tempting to bring in names like that, but there are other similar players much cheaper. Will Butcher is another possibility, but he hasn’t looked as great since his first full season.
With this pick, I take Nathan Bastian. He is a big forward who is still learning to use his size. As he grows into it, he could be an ideal pairing with Nick Ritchie on a grinding, yet skillful, third line.
Selection: Nathan Bastian
Kyle: P.K. Subban is too expensive. Will Butcher would add to a clog on my left defense side. With those two ruled out quickly, it comes down to Andreas Johnsson and Nathan Bastian.
Johnsson and Bastian have provided New Jersey with very similar on-ice impacts. Bastian is cheaper and younger. He’s the easy selection.
Selection: Nathan Bastian
New York Islanders
James: It appears the Islanders have exposed a couple of decent players hoping to clear some cap space. Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle could be real decent additions. Eberle, specifically, is a player who would be a great addition. I would love to take him and it almost pains me not too. That being said, it is tough to turn down a cheap asset in Kiefer Bellows.
Bellows hasn’t quite established himself yet in the NHL. However, he has a tool that is often coveted. Bellows can shoot the puck very well. Bringing in this kind of controllable shooting talent should be good for the future outlook of the team. He will be given a chance at earning an important role in this offense.
Selection: Kieffer Bellows
Kyle: Maybe New York wants me to take the bait and select one of Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey to help them clear cap space. Richard Panik, Kieffer Bellows, and Michael Dal Colle are also strong contenders and cheaper options. I would attempt to get an asset for selecting one of Eberle or Bailey.
I am selecting Jordan Eberle who is just too good of a player to pass on regardless of if I can get an asset for doing so. As I built my team, I was having trouble filling my second-line RW spot. Eberle fills that perfectly. I’m building a contender so I’m taking a contract that I don’t love but also don’t hate and probably doing the Islanders a favor in the process.
Selection: Jordan Eberle
New York Rangers
James: Colin Blackwell is my pick here. He is a forward who will simply outproduce his contract this season. While he will most likely be my fourth line center, I’m happy to have the versatile forward who can slot in anywhere in my lineup if needed.
Selection: Colin Blackwell
Kyle: This is Julien Gauthier or Colin Blackwell unless Seattle comes out of
left right field and selects Anthony Deangelo. I’m not doing that but I’ve gone back and forth but ultimately stuck to my philosophy of drafting the younger player. If I need to save a few dollars on the cap, Blackwell would be the selection.
I’m going to take Gauthier and pencil him in as an extra forward or in the AHL.
Selection: Julien Gauthier
James: Dadonov and Tierney strike my eye as two players I would want. Then I look more into them and realize that they did not have great seasons last year. This allows me to find some more goalie depth.
Joey Daccord is my pick. He will play in the AHL and be a formidable pair with Korenar. This pick makes me feel good about my goalie depth, leaving me with one more NHL goalie spot.
Selection: Joey Daccord
Kyle: Ottawa does not have much at all. Evgeni Dadonov is too expensive to gamble on. I like Chris Tierney as a depth center but don’t know if I ultimately have room for him on my roster. If I can flip him or another depth player, like J.T. Compher, I consider selecting Tierney. Since I don’t think there is much opportunity cost for passing on him, I opt to make another strategic pick.
My selection is another waiver exempt goalie, Joey Daccord. I’m not expecting him to be a long-term solution in goal but does provide some flexibility for my organization.
Selection: Joey Daccord
James: This pick really comes down to James Van Riemsdyk and Shayne Gostisbehere. Van Riemsdyk could slide into my top six behind Landeskog. The only real problem I have with that is his cap hit is a bit high. That leads me to taking Gostisbehere, who can provide solid mid pairing minutes and contribute as one of my powerplay defensemen.
Selection: Shayne Gostisbehere
Kyle: This is another selection where I might be taking the planted bait but I see an opportunity to contend immediately so I am going to take the player I think provides the best opportunity to do so. I think the pick comes down to Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk (JVR), Shayne Gostibehere, and possibly Robert Hagg.
In my opinion, JVR gives me the best opportunity to contend. He’s the selection.
Selection: James van Riemsdyk
James: For me, this is a tough decision between Jason Zucker and Marcus Pettersson. I ultimately end up choosing to select Pettersson. I think his defensive instincts could be a good pairing with Gostisbehere on my second d-pair. Another contributing factor is his cap hit is $4,025,175 for the next four seasons, giving me a controllable top four defenseman.
Selection: Marcus Pettersson
Kyle: There are a lot of ways to go with this selection. I think you could easily justify selecting Jason Zucker, Zach Aston-Reese, Marcus Pettersson, Mark Friedman, or Casey DeSmith. Although I think there are better options for the role, I wouldn’t completely rule out Brandon Tanev either.
I ultimately selected Casey DeSmith. I think he was Pittsburgh’s best goalie but they chose to protect the inferior Tristian Jarry instead. I would be very tempted to switch this to Zach Aston-Reese and take Vitek Vanecek from Washington. Ultimately, I think DeSmith is better than Vanecek and Garnet Hathaway is equal or better to Aston-Reese. Taking DeSmith and Hathaway later will give me the best team right now.
Selection: Casey DeSmith
San Jose Sharks
James: There’s not really anybody worth taking here. I was close to taking Ryan Donato, but I’m about sold that he isn’t going to turn into anything more than a bottom six forward. I don’t really need to be signing another player for my bottom six, so he is crossed off the list. There are a decent amount of depth options available here. I could use a little defensive depth in the AHL, so I go with Jacob Middleton.
Selection: Jacob Middleton
Kyle: I frankly don’t have much interest in any of the Sharks’ players. Ryan Donato is a bigger name but he has negatively impacted his team. Alex True and Radim Simek are also possible selections. I nearly went with Kurtis Gabriel with the intention of not signing him but I needed to find another defenseman.
My selection is Nicolas Meloche. He’s a cheap defenseman, who had decent results in limited NHL action. I would likely be sending him to the AHL.
Selection: Nicolas Meloche
St. Louis Blues
James: Tarasenko is tempting, but I don’t love the gamble for the cap hit. I go with a younger, controllable asset in Vince Dunn. While he had a rough season this past year, he has flashed stellar play at times in the past and could be very useful for me as a trade chip.
Selection: Vince Dunn
Kyle: If this is anyone but Vince Dunn or Vladimir Tarasenko, I’d be shocked. Again, I’m taking the player I think can make me an immediate contender.
I’m taking Tarasenko to be my first line RW. Unless someone wants to blow me away with an offer, he’s staying on my team.
Selection: Vladimir Tarasenko
Tampa Bay Lightning
James: Tampa Bay is in need of clearing some space, so I will step right up and help them. In order to take Tyler Johnson off of their hands, it’s going to cost them. They don’t have a first this year so I’m looking at players as the return. Yanni Gourde, Cal Foote, and Alex Barre-Boulet are the return for agreeing to take Tyler Johnson. Tampa was iffy, but they were about to lose Gourde for nothing. I’m essentially taking Johnson for Foote and Barre-Boulet.
Selection: Tyler Johnson, Receive: Yanni Gourde, Cal Foote, Barre-Boulet
Kyle: There is a balance here between holding Tampa Bay hostage to getting the best player for my team. I would really like to extract some younger assets from Tampa but I also really want to pick Yanni Gourde to play on my second-line with Niederriter and Eberle. That line will hopefully be an elite possession line. Even if I were to extract a Cal Foote or Mathieu Joseph, I’m probably going to be in danger of losing them on waivers.
The pick is Yanni Gourde and I’m going to grab some draft picks for taking a player with a higher cap hit after threatening Tampa with picking Foote and Joseph.
Selection: Yanni Gourde and Tampa’s 2021 & 2023 3rd round draft picks
Toronto Maple Leafs
James: Speaking with Toronto brings about another side deal for this expansion draft. They just acquired Jared McCann and don’t want him to be taken. Because of that, it’s going to cost them a prospect. I will take Alex Kerfoot off of their hands, helping them clear a little bit of cap space as well. This cost them 22-year-old prospect Pontus Holmberg.
Selection: Alex Kerfoot, Receive: Pontus Holmberg
Kyle: This pick has to come down to Alex Kerfoot and Jared McCann. Did Toronto acquire McCann because they wanted him to be taken or did they acquire him to replace Kerfoot? I’m not going to predict a side deal and just take the player I prefer. Both players would slot in the same spot on my team so they are interchangeable players.
I prefer McCann so he is the selection. If Toronto wants to provide me with any sort of decent asset, I’ll take Kerfoot.
Selection: Jared McCann
James: While presumably rivals once the season starts, a side deal has been made with Vancouver. In exchange for taking Loui Eriksson as a cap dump, I will be swapping the SEA 2021 2nd round pick (34th overall) for VAN’s 2021 1st round pick (9th overall). Vancouver needed cap space badly and I took advantage. I will bury Eriksson in the AHL for the season.
Selection: Loui Eriksson, Receive: VAN 2021 1st round pick.
Kyle: No one from Vancouver excites me. I haven’t left myself with enough cap space to be incentivized to take Eriksson if Vancouver is offering. Maybe I would make some different decisions if they really made it worth my time. I view the Vancouver selection as nothing more than filling out AHL depth
Assuming an offer I can’t refuse for Eriksson isn’t there, I take Kole Lind with the goal of sending him to the AHL.
Selection: Kole Lind
James: Washington has some pretty decent options available. Ovechkin isn’t happening. At forward, I could take Conor Sheary, who will be making a cheap $735,000 the next two seasons. Defensive options include Justin Schultz, Brenden Dillon, and Nick Jensen. However, as I was drafting, I knew that Vitek Vanecek was available with a $716,667 cap hit for this upcoming season. He will be my pick and will be part of my NHL tandem with Driedger. I will look for Vanecek to build on this past season. If he doesn’t take a step forward, the contract allows me flexibility to upgrade in the future.
Selection: Vitek Vanecek
Kyle: Washington has enough options where I could go many different ways. Carl Hagelin, Garnet Hathaway, Conor Sheary, Justin Schultz, Brenden Dillon, Nick Jensen, and Vitek Vanecek would all be worthy selections. I think my other selections on defense to fill my bottom four are just as good, if not better, and cheaper than the options from Washington so it comes down to a forward or Vanecek. Vanecek showed flashes but I prefer Dreidger, Kahkonen, and DeSmith to Vanecek. I don’t feel confident enough in Conor Sheary to select him. This pick comes down to Hagelin and Hathaway.
My selection is Hathaway. I really like what Hathaway would bring to the team and have some concerns over Hagelin’s age. Hathaway is one of the best role players in the league and an elite penalty killer. His contract is also very reasonable.
Selection: Garnet Hathaway
James: This Winnipeg selection is fairly easy. Dylan DeMelo and Mason Appleton are the two players I would be interested in. With DeMelo having a cap hit of $3,000,000 and not really having a spot on my team, I’m going to go with Mason Appleton. I will add him to my group of young forwards. While I’d be happy to have him in my starting lineup on opening night, he could be used in a trade if need be.
Selection: Mason Appleton
Kyle: I basically have the same thoughts as James though I am probably a little more bullish on including him in my lineup instead of flipping him. However, if someone wanted to offer me something I couldn’t refuse, I can find another player to play on my third line.
Selection: Mason Appleton
Post Expansion Trades
James: There are some post expansion trades that I have made in order to round out my team. The first trade I made was sending Kevin Shattenkirk (50% retained, $1,800,000) to the Carolina Hurricanes for the CAR 2022 2nd round pick. They wanted to bring in a right shot defenseman who can work the powerplay since they know they are losing Dougie Hamilton in free agency.
The second trade was moving Carson Soucy to the Senators for the SJS 2021 2nd round pick. Soucy didn’t really fit into my team, as I have Giordano, Pettersson, Bean, and Kulak penciled in on the left side. I’m able to add some draft capital, while Ottawa was able to strengthen their blueline.
With trade number three, I send Troy Stecher to the Montreal Canadiens for the CHI 2021 3rd round pick and the MTL 2021 5th round pick. I really didn’t have room for Stecher on this team. Montreal is able to get a cheap, yet impactful right handed option to without giving up any coveted assets.
My last trade is the biggest for my team. I send Vince Dunn, the 2021 VAN 1st round pick (9th overall), and the FLA 2021 3rd round pick (originally sent by BUF to not take Borgen) to the Sabres in exchange for the RFA rights to Sam Reinhart. I do have the ability to add to the deal if needed, with players such as Mason Appleton and Alex Barre-Boulet being available. Reinhart will then be signed to an eight year deal worth $7,500,000 per season.
Kyle: I didn’t come up with any definite trades but I certainly have players I am looking to move and a price to move them. I am sure there will be enough suitors to make that happen. My goal is to move one or two of my young, left-shot defensemen. On the left side, I have Jamie Oleksiak, Brett Kulak, Haydn Fleury, Kale Clague, Jeremy Lauzon (I would take Connor Cliffton or Jakub Zboril instead if I were flipping any of them), and Oliver Kylington. I am keeping Oleksiak and would need a fairly strong offer to move Kulak as well. I really want to use these assets to help build my farm system. My preference would be to acquire players that have not turned pro or are waiver exempt. I’d also be very interested in using them to stockpile some draft picks.
In my ideal world, I trade Lauzon (or another Boston defensemen) and Fleury (or another Duck defenseman) and play Kylington with Stetcher. I’ll assume I can accomplish that.
Post Expansion Signings
James: My first signing will be RW Joel Armia for 2 years at a $2,500,000 AAV (average annual value). My second signing will be LW Drake Caggiula for 1 year at a $800,000 AAV. My third and biggest signing will be right handed defenseman Dougie Hamilton for 7 years at a $9,000,000 AAV.
Kyle: I had agreed to terms with Dougie Hamilton during the negotiation window but we agreed to wait until after the expansion draft to finalize the contract to allow me to draft Nino Niederreiter from Carolina. He will sign a $63M, seven year deal. I might try to do the same with Jamie Oleksiak as well so I can draft another depth goalie in Colton Point but I ultimately signed and made him my selection.
Seattle Kraken Lineup
James: This team is built to have about $1,700,000 in cap space. I feel very comfortable that my team can push for a playoff spot within the Pacific division. I believe that the team will have enough prospects and picks through the expansion and amatuer drafts to make the necessary moves (probably top 6 winger) at the deadline to stay in contention.
Kyle: I have virtually no cap space remaining for this season but very little committed in future seasons with Hamilton’s contract the only I would have long-term concerns about. I also assembled what I believe to be an elite team. My only potential short-coming is possibly not leveraging my position to extract more future assets. However, I have given myself next offseason to make significant moves as well, especially if things go south. Goaltending might be my biggest concern but I hope the combination of Dreidger, DeSmith, and Kahkonen can hold down the fort.
Again, a big thanks to Capfriendly.com for their expansion draft tool. Naturalstattrick.com has also become an invaluable reference for advanced metrics!
James Finch has been an analyst at AFP Analytics and worked with the Rochester Americans as a data collection specialist. James graduated from St. John Fisher College in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management with a minor in Economics. His background with sports and economics have brought about an interest in gaining experience and finding his niche within the sport analytics field.
KYLE STICH is the Director of AFP Analytics. In addition, Mr. Stich is a tax specialist and Director of Operations at AFP Consulting LLC, whose clientele include professional athletes performing services on three separate continents. Mr. Stich earned his Master of Science in Sport Management with a Concentration in Sport Analytics from Columbia University in 2017. He earned his undergraduate degrees in Accounting and Sport Management from St. John Fisher College in 2015, where he has served as an adjunct professor teaching Sport Finance and Baseball Analytics.