Welcome to the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft presented by Upper Deck.
The Seattle Kraken have picked 30 players — one per team, excluding the Vegas Golden Knights, who were exempt — and are announcing them Wednesday at Gas Works Park in Seattle.
NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen will be providing a closer look and analysis for each player selected.
The players will be announced alphabetically by team and by division, starting with the Atlantic Division, followed by the Metropolitan, Central and Pacific. They will be presented here in reverse order.
Jared McCann, F, Toronto Maple Leafs
McCann, who was traded to the Maple Leafs by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday for forward prospect Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, scored 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 43 games this season and had one assist in six Stanley Cup Playoff games. Selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round (No. 24) of the 2014 NHL Draft, McCann has scored 155 points (66 goals, 89 assists) in 353 regular-season games with the Penguins, Florida Panthers and Canucks, and has three assists in 12 postseason games. The 25-year-old has one season remaining on a two-year contract he signed with Pittsburgh on Sept. 18, 2020.
Rosen analysis: McCann might be the perfect linemate for forward Yanni Gourde, who was selected by the Kraken from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Or he might be perfect as the center on another line. The Maple Leafs knew when they acquired McCann that they might lose him to Seattle. Versatile centers are a commodity, and the Kraken already have two with Gourde and McCann.
Yanni Gourde, F, Tampa Bay Lightning
The 29-year-old helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup for the second straight season, scoring seven points (six goals, one assist) in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Gourde, who scored 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 56 regular-season games, has four seasons remaining on a six-year contract he signed with Tampa Bay on Nov. 2, 2018. Signed by the Lightning as a free agent March 10, 2014, Gourde has scored 187 points (80 goals, 107 assists) in 310 regular-season games and 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) in 69 playoff games.
Rosen analysis: If there were an order to the expansion draft the way there is to the NHL Draft, Gourde could have been the No. 1 pick. Kraken coach Dave Hakstol will be able to build a lot of his game plan around Gourde’s versatility. He can play center or wing. He will play on the power play and on the penalty kill. He can play with high-level forwards or grinders. Gourde’s game doesn’t change. He’s consistent and a winner.
Joey Daccord, G, Ottawa Senators
Daccord was 1-3-1 with a 3.27 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in eight games (six starts) this season. Selected by Ottawa in the seventh round (No. 199) of the 2015 NHL Draft, the 24-year-old is 1-4-1 with a 3.50 GAA and .894 save percentage in nine NHL games (seven starts). Daccord has two seasons remaining on a three-year contract he signed with the Senators on Oct. 17, 2020.
Rosen analysis: Goalie depth matters, and the Kraken get it with Daccord, who has had success in the American Hockey League. If Daccord is the Kraken’s No. 3 goalie, at least he has NHL experience, albeit limited. Safe pick.
Cale Fleury, D, Montreal Canadiens
The 22-year-old, who can become a restricted free agent July 28, spent time on the taxi squad but did not play in the NHL this season, when he had six assists in 22 games with Laval of the American Hockey League. Selected by Montreal in the third round (No. 87) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Fleury has scored one goal in 41 NHL games.
Rosen analysis: Fleury gives the Kraken young depth. He is a pick for their future or for a trade. He’s not the splashy pick from the Canadiens some were hoping for and/or expecting the Kraken to make. That was goalie Carey Price, but Seattle went conservative and decided getting a defenseman in Montreal’s system was the way to go. It’s hard to fault them.
Chris Driedger, G, Florida Panthers
Driedger, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 28, was 14-6-3 with a 2.07 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and three shutouts in 23 regular-season games (all starts) this season. Selected by the Ottawa Senators in the third round (No. 76) of the 2012 NHL Draft, the 27-year-old is 21-9-4 with a 2.09 GAA, .929 save percentage and four shutouts in 38 games (34 starts) with the Panthers and Senators, and 0-1 with a 3.70 GAA and .871 save percentage in three Stanley Cup Playoff games (all this season).
Rosen analysis: Driedger will get his chance to be a No. 1 goalie. He showed his potential with the Panthers this season when he outplayed Sergei Bobrovsky. But it’s too soon to say the Kraken hit a home run with Driedger. He’s never played in more than 23 games in any of his five NHL seasons. Next season will be big for him.
Dennis Cholowski, D, Detroit Red Wings
The 23-year-old, who can become a restricted free agent July 28, scored three points (one goal, two assists) in 16 games this season. He split time between the active roster, taxi squad and American Hockey League, where he scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 13 games with Grand Rapids. Selected by Detroit in the first round (No. 20) of the 2016 NHL Draft, Cholowski has scored 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 104 NHL games.
Rosen analysis: It’s hard to fairly judge Cholowski’s NHL career because the Red Wings have been rebuilding and haven’t put a playoff-caliber team on the ice. He’s similar to Will Borgen, the defenseman Seattle selected from the Buffalo Sabres. Each has upside but a lot to prove before he can become an NHL regular.
Will Borgen, D, Buffalo Sabres
The 24-year-old has no points in 14 NHL games, including 10 games this season, when he spent time on the taxi squad. Borgen, who was selected by Buffalo in the fourth round (No. 92) of the 2015 NHL Draft, can become a restricted free agent July 28.
Rosen analysis: Borgen was a bright spot for the Sabres this season until he fractured his forearm Feb. 20 and was out two months. It’s possible, if not likely, that he’ll start next season with Charlotte of the AHL. This seems like a pick for the Kraken’s future, but with an opportunity he could be an important part of the present. He’s a no-risk selection with upside.
Jeremy Lauzon, D, Boston Bruins
The 24-year-old scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in an NHL career-high 41 games this season and did not score a point in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games. He has one season remaining on a two-year contract he signed Feb. 14, 2020. Selected by Boston in the second round (No. 52) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Lauzon has scored 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 76 regular-season games and has not scored a point in 13 playoff games.
Rosen analysis: Lauzon, who was coached by Kraken assistant Jay Leach with Providence of the American Hockey League, has size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) and can play 20 minutes per game in more of a shutdown capacity. The Kraken are getting a defenseman who could be a big part of their future too. Quality pickup.