Having a young goaltender who can develop into a starter is key for any organization’s success. With that said, the Seattle Kraken should consider selecting Adin Hill of the Arizona Coyotes in the Expansion Draft. The 25-year-old goaltender has already shown he can compete and have success in the NHL, and could be a solid backup behind an established veteran in the Seattle organization.
The Expansion Draft
It is not guaranteed that Hill will be available in the Expansion Draft, as Arizona may choose to protect him over 31-year-old Darcy Kuemper. However, if Hill is available, he is the best option from the Coyotes organization.
Arizona’s potential expansion list is underwhelming. While players like Ilya Lyubushkin and Christian Fischer should be available, there are better and younger options available at those positions from other franchises. When it comes to goaltending in the Expansion Draft, however, there are not many young netminders available who have NHL experience and are on teams where they are the obvious selection. (from ‘Montreal’s Jake Allen is a likely Kraken expansion draft pick — as long as he’s not too good in playoffs,’ Seattle Times, 04/28/2021) Hill is about to hit his prim,e which makes him a safe and valuable selection.
Roots in the Area
Hill is from the West Coast and played his junior hockey in Portland, Oregon. During his WHL career with the Portland Winterhawks, he posted 67 wins in 115 games while recording a .919 save percentage (SV%). He was also a major part of Portland’s run to the Western Conference Final in 2015, where he posted a .911 SV% in 17 postseason games.
Bringing back players who have notoriety around the Pacific Northwest could be a big marketing boost for Seattle. Not only is Hill a good player, but he played in the area, and could draw fans from the Portland area to the games. He would be a good choice not only for his on-ice play, but his off-ice recognition could help Seattle grow the brand in Oregon as well.
A Solid Season
Although Arizona did not make the playoffs, Hill had a good year with the organization. He posted a .913 SV% in 19 games and had two shutouts. Thanks to his impressive season, Hill was called up to Team Canada and will play at the upcoming IIHF World Championship. Although his record was 9-9-1, that could be chalked up to his team’s inability to score. The Coyotes scored three or fewer goals in 10 of Hill’s 19 games played this season. This included three shutouts against. Arizona was one of the lowest-scoring teams and ranked 29th in shots/GP. His record was more indicative of his team’s performance around him rather than his performance in goal.
One area where Hill improved this season was when his team was shorthanded. Last season, Hill gave up 9 goals on 44 shots. This season, he only allowed 6 power-play goals on 70 shots. He did see some declines in high-danger scoring chance save percentage and even-strength save percentage, but that was due to a higher volume of shots faced and increased minutes.
Hill has shown steady progression to a point that he can be considered one of the best backups in the NHL. When looking at goaltenders who played between 10 and 20 games this season, Hill ranked fifth in wins and save percentage while finishing fourth in saves. He had better statistics than players like Robin Lehner and Jaroslav Halak despite not having the defensive structure they have in Vegas and Boston, respectively. If you put Hill in a better situation, he could develop even further and maybe become a No. 1 netminder down the line.
One additional benefit with Hill is that he is an RFA at the end of the season. He does have arbitration rights, but selecting him means you aren’t taking on a bad contract that will burn you in the future. Rather than bringing in an expensive goalie with three or four years left on their deal, you have control of the cap hit with a player that is showing he can produce at the NHL level. It is a win-win situation and could prevent cap trouble down the line like we are seeing in Florida and Montreal with their expensive long-term goaltenders.
Picking Hill Is the Right Choice
Seattle will need to find value in the Expansion Draft, and Hill is a perfect example. General managers are going to be smarter this time around as to not get embarrassed like they were in the Vegas Expansion Draft. That means the quality of players that Seattle will have to choose from this year may be lower than it was for the Golden Knights in 2017. In Hill, you have an up-and-coming, steady goaltender who could develop into a starter if given the option. If not, you have a backup goaltender you can rely upon if needed. When Seattle picks a player from Arizona, Adin Hill should be the selection.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.