In the 2021 Expansion Draft, the Seattle Kraken have selected defenseman Cale Fleury from the Montréal Canadiens.
Hailing from Carlyle, Saskatchewan, the 22-year-old blueliner stands at 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds. He was drafted in the third round, 87th overall, of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Canadiens.
From 2014 to 2017, Fleury played junior hockey with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Kootenay Ice before a midseason trade to the Regina Pats. After the Pats were eliminated from the 2018 WHL playoffs, the Canadiens signed Fleury to a three-year, entry-level contract. He spent his first professional season with Montréal’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate the Laval Rocket, posting nine goals and 23 points in 60 games.
Fleury made the Canadiens’ opening-night roster out of training camp in 2019, but did not spend the entire season with the NHL club. He scored his first NHL goal against the New Jersey Devils, his only point of the season in 41 NHL games. He also put up two goals and five points in 14 games with the Rocket.
In 2020-21, Fleury managed six assists in 22 games in a shortened AHL season, failing to see any time with the Canadiens. However, he was one of Montréal’s black aces during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Fleury’s entry-level deal expired following the 2020-21 season and he is now a restricted free agent.
Fleury is a very physical defenseman. Although he should not be initially expected to chip in with a substantial amount of offensive production, he has some potential there and could grow into a decent point-producer. Defensively is where Fleury is expected to cement his role at the NHL level, though his underlying results have been mediocre thus far.
On Seattle, Fleury is likely to start as a depth defender with the ability to move up the lineup. He is probably best suited to the AHL to begin with, but don’t be surprised if he starts the season on the Kraken. His physical play remains a sought-after attribute at the top level.
Players Not Picked
Although the Kraken ultimately decided on Fleury, the Canadiens had plenty of other options at all positions, the most tempting of which was likely goaltender Carey Price. Price had another difficult regular season, but returned to vintage form in the playoffs, where he led the Canadiens to within three wins of the Stanley Cup with a Conn Smythe-worthy performance. Seattle was likely deterred by his hefty contract.
Defenseman Brett Kulak was also available to Seattle. He did not get a lot of playing time during the playoffs, which may have deterred Seattle, but he is a very good third-pairing defender who can easily slide in and play effective top-four minutes.
Lastly, the Kraken could have selected forward Jonathan Drouin. Drouin, at only 26 years old, remains a very promising player with a ton of skill. However, he left the Canadiens late in the season for a personal leave of absence, and a lack of clarity surrounding the situation may have scared the Kraken away.
The Canadiens’ blue line is very deep, but the loss of Fleury may hurt. Montréal’s right-side defense corps now looks very weak, especially with recent reports suggesting that Shea Weber’s injuries may jeopardize his playing career. For the Kraken, Fleury is a welcome addition. He can be counted on as a solid bottom-pair defenseman with some upside. If deployed properly, he could prove to be a decent contributor in Seattle’s inaugural season.
Jake is a reliable source for the Seattle Kraken here at The Hockey Writers. Hailing from New York City, he is an avid fan of all things hockey and is always involved with the sport, whether that means writing, watching, or playing. An enthusiastic advocate for sports analytics, Jake will often weave them into his posts to support his ideas. More of his work can be found on his Substack page, and he is a contributor with @hky_tapetalk on Instagram. For any questions or inquiries, Jake can be contacted on his Twitter, @jakezrihen.