NHL.com identifies the most valuable players in fantasy hockey for next season who were selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft presented by Upper Deck. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.
Yanni Gourde, C/LW/RW (from TBL) — Arguably the biggest fantasy beneficiary of this NHL Expansion Draft, Gourde will likely be the Seattle Kraken’s No. 1 center after being selected from the back-to-back defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Gourde scored 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 56 games last season, a 53-point pace over 82 games, skating on mostly the Lightning’s third line. Gourde’s best fantasy season came in 2017-18, when he scored 64 points (25 goals, 39 assists) in 82 games. He could challenge that mark in an expanded offensive role, and his average ice time (17:04 per game last season) should lead all Kraken forwards.
Jordan Eberle, RW (from NYI) — He could have the highest point ceiling among Kraken forwards after being selected from the New York Islanders. Over the past two seasons, Eberle combined to score 73 points (32 goals, 41 assists) in 113 regular-season games, fourth on the Islanders in the span, and was also productive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (25 points in 41 games over span) playing mostly on the top line with center Mathew Barzal. Eberle ranked sixth among right wings with 172 goals from 2011-12 to 2017-18, highlighted by his NHL career-high 76 points (34 goals, 42 assists) in 2011-12. Gourde and Eberle have joined NHL.com’s fantasy top 100 forward rankings ahead of likely top-line and first power-play roles in Seattle’s inaugural season.
Chris Driedger, G (from FLA) — He was impressive over the past two seasons, going 21-8-4 with a .931 save percentage and four shutouts in 35 appearances. Driedger’s sample size is enough to suggest he could be the No. 1 starter for the Kraken to start the season. That said, Driedger’s peripherals could decline with the increased volume of starts and likely not as much goal support as he had with the Florida Panthers (3.36 goals per game; T-4th in NHL) last season. Still, Driedger’s efficiency (.929 save percentage in 38 regular-season games; best all-time among goalies to play more than 10 games) makes him an intriguing fantasy sleeper goalie in the middle rounds of a standard 12-team draft.
Vitek Vanecek, G (from WSH) — He was among the most valuable rookie goalies in fantasy last season with the Washington Capitals, going 21-10-4 with a .908 SV% and two shutouts in 37 games. Vanecek had the most wins and was tied for the most games played among rookies with Kevin Lankinen (17 wins) of the Chicago Blackhawks. Vanecek, also part of a timeshare in Washington last season when Ilya Samsonov was healthy, could see his win total decline in the short term while competing with Driedger behind an offense with far less forward talent than the Capitals. That said, Vanecek remains a coveted fantasy goalie option in keeper and dynasty leagues and is also worth targeting in the first 12 rounds of a standard league draft.
Vince Dunn, D (from STL) — He’s a potential fantasy gem for Seattle ahead of likely his most prominent NHL role after being overshadowed by former St. Louis Blues teammates Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko, Torey Krug and Justin Faulk over the years. Dunn, limited to 43 games this season because of injury, averaged an NHL career-high 0.47 points per game and could play on the Kraken’s first power play and/or top pair at even strength. Dunn, who won the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019, has joined the fantasy top 50 defenseman rankings and is a sleeper candidate with 45-point potential next season.
Joonas Donskoi, LW/RW (from COL) — Similar to Gourde with Tampa Bay, Donskoi was an intriguing fantasy player from an elite Colorado Avalanche offense last season. Donskoi scored 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) in 51 games and five points (three goals, two assists) in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Donskoi, who was tied for fourth on Colorado in even-strength goals (12), was a must-add fantasy player when he got top-six and/or first power-play usage this season and could be a sneaky final-round pick for standard drafts next season.
Jared McCann, C/LW (from TOR) — McCann, traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday before being selected by the Kraken, has sneaky fantasy appeal next season as likely either Seattle’s top-line left wing or second-line center. McCann had the highest points-per-game average of his NHL career (0.74; 32 points in 43 games) this season with the Penguins and emerged as a must-add fantasy pickup when he was the No. 2 center behind Sidney Crosby during Evgeni Malkin‘s injury absence. McCann is worth targeting in the final rounds of standard fantasy drafts or off the waiver wire as a streaming option.
Listen: “NHL Fantasy on Ice” podcast 🎧
Watch: Podcast episodes on YouTube 📺