The lists of available and protected players for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft presented by Upper Deck, which takes place Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, SN NOW), were released by the NHL on Sunday, and Seattle has until 10 a.m. ET the day of the draft to submit its selections.
The Kraken must select one player from each of the 30 participating teams (the Vegas Golden Knights are exempt), including at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. Additionally, at least 20 of their selections must already be under contract for next season with an aggregate value that is between 60 to 100 percent of the $81.5 million NHL salary cap.
As the hockey world awaits Seattle’s picks, NHL.com staff writers Dan Rosen, Tom Gulitti and Pete Jensen conducted their own mock expansion draft using all the rules the Kraken must follow.
Here are their selections, which came in at approximately $71 million, followed by an explanation for each position:
Dustin Tokarski, Buffalo Sabres; Malcolm Subban, Chicago Blackhawks; Kaapo Kahkonen, Minnesota Wild; Braden Holtby, Vancouver Canucks
Holtby would more than likely enter training camp as the No. 1 goalie, but the door would be open for Kahkonen to become the starter at some point in the season.
That tandem would also provide Seattle with a veteran former Stanley Cup champion in Holtby, and an up-and-coming goalie in Kahkonen, who turns 25 on Aug. 16 and was 16-8-0 with a 2.88 goals-against average, .902 save percentage and two shutouts as a rookie with Minnesota this season.
Holtby, who turns 32 on Sept. 16, had a tough first season with Vancouver, going 7-11-3 with a 3.67 GAA and .889 save percentage. But the Canucks also struggled defensively, allowing 3.34 goals against per game, so it’s possible Holtby could regain his form.
Either way, this is quality goaltending for a little more than $5 million (Holtby at $4.3 million, Kahkonen at $750,000), which allows the Kraken to spend wisely elsewhere, too.
Subban would be No. 3 on the Seattle’s depth chart and a tradeable commodity. Tokarski could start in the AHL and be called up as needed.
Christian Fischer, Arizona Coyotes; Joonas Donskoi, Colorado Avalanche; Blake Comeau, Dallas Stars; Devin Shore, Edmonton Oilers; Frank Vatrano, Florida Panthers; Austin Wagner, Los Angeles Kings; Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators; Nathan Bastian, New Jersey Devils; Josh Bailey, New York Islanders; Colin Blackwell, New York Rangers; Evgenii Dadonov, Ottawa Senators; Brandon Tanev, Pittsburgh Penguins; Dylan Gambrell, San Jose Sharks; Yanni Gourde, Tampa Bay Lightning; Alexander Kerfoot, Toronto Maple Leafs; Mason Appleton, Winnipeg Jets
Having depth at center is a good way for any team to start, and that will be a strength for the Kraken with Johansen, Gourde, Kerfoot and Gambrell.
Selecting Johansen means picking up the remaining four years on his contract ($8 million AAV), but there is value in having a true No. 1 center in his prime (Johansen turns 29 on July 31) to build the offense around. Johansen also might benefit from a change of scenery. After scoring 64 points (14 goals, 50 assists) in 80 games in 2018-19, he dipped to 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 68 games last season, and had 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 48 games this season.
Gourde would thrive in a bigger role with Seattle after scoring 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 56 games as Tampa Bay’s third-line center this season, and he brings invaluable experience from winning the Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons. Kerfoot and Gambrell slot in perfectly behind him.
Seattle isn’t as deep at wing, but it has good options for its top two lines with Vatrano (18 goals this season), Donskoi (17 goals this season), Dadonov (three seasons with at least 25 goals) and Bailey (35 points this season). The Kraken will also have some forwards beginning to tap their potential such as Appleton (set NHL career highs with 12 goals, 13 assists, and 25 points this season) and Blackwell (also set NHL career highs with 12 goals, 10 assists, 22 points), and grit and experience from Tanev and Comeau.
Haydn Fleury, Anaheim Ducks; Connor Clifton, Boston Bruins; Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames; Jake Bean, Carolina Hurricanes; Gabriel Carlsson, Columbus Blue Jackets; Dennis Cholowski, Detroit Red Wings; Brett Kulak, Montreal Canadiens; Justin Braun, Philadelphia Flyers; Vince Dunn, St. Louis Blues; Brenden Dillon, Washington Capitals
Two potential gems for Seattle in this mock expansion draft are Dunn, a strong all-around defenseman who won the Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019, and Bean, who has a much higher ceiling after scratching the surface this season for the Hurricanes. Dunn was limited to 43 games this season because of injury but averaged an NHL career-high 0.47 points per game. Bean scored 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 42 games as a rookie despite playing mostly on the third defense pair.
Giordano, who has one season remaining on his contract ($6.75 million AAV), could bounce back with a change of scenery. He has scored 57 points (14 goals, 43 assists) the past two seasons after scoring an NHL career-high 74 (17 goals, 57 assists) in 2018-19, when he won the Norris Trophy voted as the best defenseman in the NHL. Not only that, as Flames captain the past eight seasons, he would provide instant leadership to the Kraken.
Braun (100 postseason games) and Dillon (75) would add Stanley Cup Playoff experience to Seattle’s second and third pairs. Cholowski, the No. 20 pick in 2016 NHL Draft, and Fleury, the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, would join Bean as potential long-term investments.