Bringing in a player because they are from your home state or province is not always the best option. Some examples include Minnesota with Zach Parise, David Clarkson in Toronto and Sheldon Souray coming to Edmonton. The Kraken can avoid this by selecting someone other than Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Johnson, from Spokane, Washington, has seen his production decline over the past few seasons and was even placed on waivers this year. He is currently centering the fourth line and has been taken off the power play this season. Instead of picking Johnson, here are four better alternatives that would be better selections come Expansion Draft time.
If available, Ryan McDonagh would be a great selection. He will be 32 next season but has proven age is not slowing him down. He still plays close to 22 minutes a game and could be that first pairing defenceman Seattle is looking for. His contract is a problem at $6.750 that will pay him for the next five seasons, but you could buy him out down the line if need without a massive cap hit.
As for McDonagh’s on-ice performance, he is still performing at a very high level. His 96 blocked shots led the Lightning during the regular season, and he has added 22 in 10 playoff games so far this year. As for offensive production, McDonagh can still get you 20-25 points and has a history of producing on the powerplay. He helped lead Tampa to the fourth-best penalty kill playing 142 minutes shorthanded this season. If you want an experienced, left-shot defenceman who can play in your top-pair and mentor your young players, McDonagh is the perfect option if he is available.
It is unclear who Tampa will protect in the Expansion Draft with their last defensive protection slot. If they choose McDonagh over Erik Černák, then Seattle should pounce on the 24-year-old defenseman. Černák is signed for another two years at 2.95, which is a steal based on his value on the ice. He and McDonagh have created a shutdown pair that is amongst the best in the league. Picking Černák is a no-brainer if he becomes available.
Since coming into the league, Černák has been a wrecking ball laying the body whenever he can. He ranks eighth in the league in hits since 2017-18 with 468 during the regular season and has added an additional 102 in 39 playoff games. He was vital to Tampa’s cup win last year, playing over 20 minutes a game in the playoffs, mostly in a matchup role. He blocked 52 shots and dished out 59 hits in 25 games to help the Lightning win their second Cup in franchise history. He continues to impress and could be an anchor on a defensive pair with an offensive defenceman. His age, contract and skill set makes him the perfect selection for the Kraken if he becomes available.
If Seattle wants a young forward with a strong scoring pedigree, Mathieu Joseph might be that player. The former fourth-round pick is only 24 and has found success at every level. Despite limited ice-time and no special teamwork, Joseph has still found a way to put up points with 70 in his first 163 games. A bigger winger who is not afraid to throw the body, Joseph might be a project worth taking on for the Kraken.
Joseph is a player that can get shots on the net and create chances for teammates. He registered a 64.1% shots through percentage this season and scored 12 goals on 59 shots. Joseph does have potential. The issue in Tampa has been that he is often placed on the fourth line and not with players who can contribute offensively. He has always been a playmaker going back to his junior days, so he needs to be put in a position to succeed. The good news for Seattle is Joseph could be their William Karlsson. A player who was never given an opportunity until coming to an expansion team and then thriving when given a chance. If Seattle is thinking about selecting a young winger, Joseph would be a great selection.
The former first-rounder has struggled to stay in the lineup, mostly due to the depth of the Tampa Bay blue line. Despite that, he still deserves consideration when it comes to the Expansion Draft. Callan Foote is the son of former NHLer Adam Foote and plays almost identically to his dad. Foote is only 22 and has the potential to become one of the hardest-hitting defencemen in the league.
Foote was feared in junior and was an important part of Team Canada’s 2018 World Junior Gold team. His big hits and defensive games let him dominate the WHL and even got him named First-Team All-Star in 2018. He has had success in the AHL putting up 64 points in 150 games and is now ready to prove he has what it takes in the NHL.
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This season, he did get into 35 games with the Lightning but was used sparingly in each game averaging less than 13 minutes. This is another player that is suffering due to roster construction. Foote is an excellent prospect and has all the attributes of a future shut-down defenceman. If Seattle wants to go young on defense and Černák is unavailable, Foote may be a good alternative for the Kraken.
Staying Away From Johnson Is the Best Option
There are too many red flags when it comes to Johnson. He will be 31 next season and his contract carries an AAV of $5 million over the next three seasons. Not to mention the fact that he has been declining every season to the point that Tampa is playing him less than 10 minutes a game in the playoffs this season. Bringing Johnson home may be a good idea from a marketing perspective, but just like with T.J. Oshie who is also from Washington State, there is a greater benefit on the ice if the Kraken select someone else.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken team. His work can also be found at dubnetwork.ca where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Adam is excited to be part of the Kraken’s inaugural season and ready to bring you in depth coverage of the NHL’s 32nd team.