The Montreal Canadiens have released their protection list for the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. A few notable players left unprotected: Carey Price, Jonathan Drouin, Paul Byron, Phil Danault, Shea Weber and Brett Kulak. The Kraken will have some tough decisions when picking from the Canadiens roster; let’s go in-depth with each unprotected Hab and whether the Kraken should pick them or not.
The biggest shock from the Canadiens was that General Manager (GM) Marc Bergevin asked Price to waive his no-move clause (NMC) to protect backup goalie Jake Allen. The gamble will put the Canadiens in a tough spot if Price is chosen. However, it will free up $10.5 million in cap space, which will enable the Canadiens to sign or acquire another starting goaltender. Price has been the face of the franchise for over 10 seasons and was the one of, if not the main reason the Canadiens had any success in that time, including last season’s Stanley Cup Final run.
Price will be a major consideration for Kraken’s GM Ron Francis, but some issues come with this pick. In September of 2021, he is owed an $11 million signing bonus that the Kraken will have to pay him if he is selected by the team and will still have a $10.5 million cap hit. Another issue – which could be a total conspiracy – is that he may need hip surgery and miss significant time next season. This sort of makes sense based on the cryptic Instagram post that Price’s wife Angela made and a reason Bergevin was willing to expose him in the first place.
Verdict: The Kraken will not select Price: the cap hit is too high, and they can get two goalies for less than his cost. If he is injured, the Kraken could have bigger issues down the road regarding Price, his health, and his cap hit.
Drouin is a fascinating choice for the Kraken, and he has the potential to be a solid top-six performer who could peak at 70-80 points. He has a high hockey IQ and tremendous skill and is great at setting up his fellow linemates. The problem is that it’s still all potential – at 26 years old, he has yet to hit his mark, one that the Canadiens thought he would see when they traded for him in 2017. So far, he has shown flashes of that potential but has not consistently stayed at the top of his game.
The biggest flaw in selecting Drouin is the situation he is in now. He was placed on the long-term injured reserve (LTIR) for personal reasons, and nothing else has been disclosed. He could still be a good choice for the Kraken. If his issues are from the pressure of being a francophone playing in Montreal, then a change of scenery to a team where all eyes will not be on him could be just what he needs to break out of his shell. However, the Kraken could stay far away from Drouin because he has off-ice issues and is a very inconsistent player. His $5.5 million cap hit is about average for players in his point range, so he would be worth it if he does break out.
Verdict: Drouin could be selected by the Kraken for his high potential, and the fact a change of scenery could be a great solution to his problem could entice them to take the chance on him. Don’t be surprised if he is selected.
Byron could be the best waiver pick-up in recent NHL history. He was picked off waivers from the Calgary Flames in 2015 and subsequently provided the Canadiens with two 20 goal seasons, solid penalty killing and great leadership. One of the fastest skaters in the NHL, he can play on either wing and center. He has had injury issues in the last couple of seasons which affected his play – his scoring went down, but his defensive play remained solid.
Byron would be a great addition to Kraken’s lineup. His leadership would be invaluable to a new team, and his speed and defensive skill would help them on the penalty kill (PK). The issue is his $3.5 million cap hit for a bottom-six player is pretty steep; unless he can get back to his 20 goal play, he could be a financial liability. The bonus to having him on the team is his versatility. He can play all forward positions and line up on any line.
Verdict: There is a high possibility that Byron gets selected by the Kraken. It may not be as simple as just drafting him, but Bergevin could send a draft pick or two Seattle’s way so that they will select him; either way, he would make a great addition to the team.
Danault is technically a free agent, and the Kraken has from July 18-21 to interview him if they wish. If he does sign with the Kraken, then he would count as the Canadiens selection for the Expansion Draft, and no one else will be selected. He is one of the better defensive forwards in the league and the Canadiens go-to player to shut down the opposing team’s top players. He was one of the main reasons the Canadiens did so well in the playoffs, and their PK was dominant.
Danault would be an excellent addition to the Kraken, and he would provide them with solid defensive play and penalty killing. He is a free agent, so the Kraken could easily not draft him and try to sign him after the draft is over and essentially get two players from the Canadiens – but not really, if they sign him as a free agent like any other team could. Danault would be a perfect fit for the Kraken and provide them with a solid defensive forward and possible second-line center; his offensive skill is average and could provide Seattle with around 15 goals 40 points per season. The biggest issue would be Danault’s salary demands. He already reportedly turned down a $5 million offer from the Canadians.
Verdict: Danault will most likely not be selected by Seattle. There is a possibility, but it is more likely he will either sign there as a free agent or not become a member of the Kraken at all.
Weber’s leadership alone should be a huge reason for Seattle to select him in the expansion draft; he has a tremendous shot and, even at the age of 36, can still put the points up when healthy. The keyword in the last sentence is “healthy.” Weber has been struck with major injuries since joining the Canadiens and now – if the rumors are true – could be contemplating retirement. If he doesn’t retire, it is reported that he has thumb, knee and ankle issues that all could require surgery in the offseason, which could force him to miss the entire next season.
The likelihood of Weber going to Seattle is very slim; with his contract of $7.8 million his age and all the injuries, it would really be a bad decision for the Kraken to select him. To not take anything away from him, his leadership, and the fact that he would probably play through all those injuries if he were allowed would give Seattle one of the better players in the NHL. On the business side of things, however, it wouldn’t be a brilliant move by Francis.
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Verdict: Seattle stays far away from Weber and doesn’t even think about selecting him. Too many negative variables off the ice muddy the entire situation.
Kulak is an excellent bottom-pairing defenceman. He skates well, has a pretty good shot, and is solid in the transition game. He is also very inconsistent, and his mistakes usually end up with the puck in the back of the Canadiens net. He would still provide any team with a good bottom-pairing defenceman who can play solid minutes when needed to.
Kulak is probably not even on Seattle’s radar – not that he isn’t a good player, but because there are better defensemen available out there. He is a dime-a-dozen type that will give you solid bottom minutes and play a well-controlled game. If Seattle does take him, it will because a side deal was in place between Bergevin and Francis.
Verdict: No way Kulak gets drafted by Seattle. If he is, it’s because a deal was made to have him drafted, other than that, he probably won’t even be considered.
I believe that the Kraken will select either Drouin or Byron, mostly because of the injury and cap issues with Weber and Price, and I think Bergevin will do what he can to control who is picked. Byron and Drouin give the best cap relief for the Canadiens and provide Seattle with a good solid player. Let me know who you think will be drafted.
Trege Wilson has been a freelance content writer for the past four years and with the THW for the past year. He is the co-host of the popular Montreal Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered on IHeartRadio.com.Trege is very passionate about all things Canadiens and loves to provide his readers with great quality news, rumours and opinions on the Montreal Canadiens. Trege has also been featured on JblamSports and JDFSports Podcasts; for interviews and guest appearances, you can contact him at any of his social media accounts listed under his photo in such articles as this one.