We are almost at the end of this crazy 2021 NHL season. And headed into the fall of the 2021-2022 season, the league will look a little different, as the newest NHL expansion franchise, the Seattle Kraken, will be joining the league.
We are just a few years removed from the introduction of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-2018, and the Seattle Kraken will be looking to rewrite the Knights formula that led them to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in their first season.
With the finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs underway, it is important that we start to look ahead towards the offseason of the now 32 NHL teams, and their first major decisions will be made for the 2021 NHL Expansion draft.
Having prepared for the Vegas expansion draft, teams will be much more prepared for the procedure and curveballs that happen when a new team is introduced. Heading into the Vegas expansion draft in 2017, the most recent expansion draft happened in 2000.
However, it is important to note that 15 teams have changed their general managers since the 2017 expansion, and many teams’ cap/financial situations have been decimated by the salary cap that is expected to remain flat at $81.5 million due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With all of that being said, Seattle will have the opportunity to select many capable NHL players, young pieces, and some smart veterans that could place Seattle in a competitive position in its first season.
The expansion draft rules will be the same as the rules placed for the Golden Knights in 2017.
The simple rules are as follows.
- Each of the 31 teams, excluding Vegas, will protect either 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie who fit the expansion requirements, or they can protect 8 skaters of their choice and one goaltender.
- Seattle will pick one player from each team, excluding Vegas, and must choose a minimum of 14 forwards, 9 defenseman, and 3 goaltenders.
Projected Expansion Draft outcome
Here is my projected outcome of the 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft.
Anaheim Ducks: Haydn Fleury, D
Seattle adds a young defenseman who has great potential on the offensive end. Fleury hasn’t had the opportunity to break out in Carolina or Anaheim.
Arizona Coyotes: Adin Hill, G
An admirable fill-in for Raanta and Kuemper when they succumbed to injuries. He will try to compete with the other goaltenders that Seattle takes.
Boston Bruins: Nick Ritchie, LW
Ritchie is a physical monster, and with much of Boston’s forward roster holding no-move clauses, it’s hard to see them protecting a player like Ritchie.
Buffalo Sabres: Colin Miller, D
Miller was acquired from the other expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights, in a trade back in 2019. Miller is sound defensively and has a bit of an offensive punch with 122 points scored over 349 games in his NHL career.
Calgary Flames: Oliver Kylington, D
This young defenseman will get this chance to shine, much like Haydn Fleury. Kylington can be a weapon on the power play, and somewhere he didn’t see much time in Calgary due to the presence of Mark Giordano.
Carolina Hurricanes: Brady Skjei, D
The bonafide #1 defenseman for the new Seattle Kraken. Carolina has too many young pieces up front and a strong defenseman to protect, leaving Brady Skjei open for the taking.
Chicago Blackhawks: Calvin De Haan, D
Like Boston, a lot of the players on Chicago’s roster upfront have no-move clauses. I expect Keith to stay with Chicago and be protected, leaving De Haan open for Seattle.
Colorado Avalanche: Ryan Graves, D
Erik Johnson is able to waive his move-movement clause and save most likely Devon Toews. But it is hard to see the Avs being able to protect Graves unless they choose an 8 forward, one defenseman, one goalie scheme, and leave a bunch of defensemen available.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Dean Kukan, D
Another capable defenseman is left available due to the strength at the top of the d line for the Blue Jackets. Kukan has 5 years of NHL experience and could be a great addition for the Kraken.
Dallas Stars: Anton Khudobin, G
The best and most experienced goaltender available, Anton Khudobin, won’t quite be a Marc Andre Fleury for the Kraken, but he is a solid starter in the NHL.
Detroit Red Wings: Adam Erne, LW
A team still in a rebuild, the Detroit Red Wings will leave their most susceptible winger available to be taken. Erne has potential, but it won’t be reached in Detroit.
Edmonton Oilers: Tyler Benson, LW
Another forward who won’t fit where he is currently situated. Benson would benefit from a situation where he is not placed behind strong forwards such as Connor McDavid, Leon Draisatl, and the extended Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Florida Panthers: Noel Acciari, RW
This was a hard one to determine. Seattle could take another strong and physical defender in Radko Gudas, but I have them taking Noel Acciari to add depth to their wings.
Los Angeles Kings: Kale Clague, D
After the trade for Viktor Arvidsson from the Predators, the Kings are left having to protect seven of their forwards, leaving young defender Clague available.
Minnesota Wild: Jordan Greenway, LW
I find it hard to believe that Minnesota will let Mat Dumba walk, and Jonas Brodin, Ryan Sute, and Jared Spurgeon all have no-movement clauses. That leaves a top-notch forward like Jordan Greenway available for the taking.
Montreal Canadiens: Jake Allen, G
Possibly the highest upside out of any goaltender that will be available for the Kraken. Allen feels like he could be the guy or a simple gap starter for the Kraken.
Nashville Predators: Ryan Johansen, C
In what I anticipate to be the first expansion deal, Ryan Johansen heads to the Kraken for some sort of draft compensation. The BC/Vancouver native will head near home and be a fan favorite.
New Jersey Devils: Andreas Johnsson, LW
Johnson is still probably a top-six capable forward. Devils’ young guys, including Yegor Sharangovich and Michael McLeod, showed promise late in the season and pushed Johnsson out of the protected list.
New York Islanders: Kiefer Bellows, C/LW
A 2016 first-rounder of the Islanders, he still has plenty of potential after being stashed at the end of a strong Islanders team.
New York Rangers: Brett Howden, C
Here’s another forward who is exposed due to the strong top forwards of the team and the incoming youth. Howden can provide great plays on both ends and could develop into a strong role player.
Ottawa Senators: Chris Tierney, C
Tierney doesn’t seem to figure into the future of the Ottawa Senators. He could be a good bridge/rental player for the Kraken when his contract expires in 2022.
Philadelphia Flyers: Nicolas Aube-Kubel, C
I don’t see the Flyers letting Van Riemsdyk walk, leaving the young 24-year-old available for Seattle. He can play fast and physical hockey that could be useful for the bottom six.
San Jose Sharks: Dylan, Gambrell, C
A local, Dylan can also be a fan favorite from sentimental value.
St. Louis Blues: Vince Dunn, D
It is a possibility that the Blues try to keep Dunn by making a side deal with the Kraken, but he is the most experienced and skilled player available from the Blues.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Tyler Johnson, RW
Another side deal is predicted here. Tyler Johnson will likely be taken on for compensation from a Seattle draft pick. Tampa Bay will try to keep its championship core together.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Justin Holl, D
Toronto is too strong upfront to let one of their top-notch forwards become available. That leaves Holl open on the blue line, and he will provide experience and strength to Seattle’s core defenseman.
Vancouver Canucks: Jonah Gadjovich, LW
With not many options available from the Canucks, Seattle will go with a young winger that could break out given the opportunity.
Washington Capitals: Vitek Vanecek, G
Coming off of a 5th placer in Calder Memorial Trophy voting for Rookie of the Year, Vanecek can be a solid goaltender for Seattle for the near future.
Winnipeg Jets: Mason Appleton, RW
Appleton has been a good player when given a chance. With the resigning of key players by Winnipeg, it looks like Appleton is on the way out.