Later this month, the Seattle Kraken will select their inaugural roster as part of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Those selections will join recent signing Luke Henman to form the NHL’s 32nd franchise.
To celebrate this historic event, The Hockey Writers put together the most realistic mock expansion draft to date.
How is it realistic? Glad you asked. First, writers here at THW stepped up to represent the team they cover on a day-to-day basis. Because they know the ins and outs of their franchise, these writers serve as the perfect general managers for this mock expansion draft.
Next, our writers were allowed to conduct pre-expansion draft trades to better position themselves when forming their protected lists. More on those trades shortly.
Writers were also able to negotiate side deals with the Kraken to select or not select certain players. We saw a handful of side deals take place during the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft and expect more to occur with Seattle.
And finally, we didn’t just stop after the selections were made. Like Vegas did in 2017, there were a few instances where expansion draft picks were quickly dealt to another team. Remember, Seattle doesn’t need 30 NHLers – they want a well-rounded organization loaded with NHL depth, prospects, and draft picks.
As the GM for the Kraken, I leaned toward selecting the best player available, though that distinction can be skewed based on side deal and post-selection trade outcomes. Publicly available analytics were considered as well, since Seattle has a rather robust hockey information science department. And of course, all expansion draft rules were followed here at THW.
Now, let’s dive into our mock expansion draft, starting with the pre-draft positioning trades.
In all, 13 trades were completed prior to the mock expansion draft to better position teams or address salary cap concerns. The Golden Knights (led by GM Devin Little) and Washington Capitals were the most active teams with three trades apiece.
- Washington traded G Ilya Samsonov to San Jose for a 2021 second-round pick, LW Alexander Barabanov, and D Artemi Kniazev.
- Washington traded D Dmitry Orlov and their 2022 sixth-round pick to Ottawa for D Nikita Zaitsev and G Mads Sogaard.
- Vegas traded G Robin Lehner to Pittsburgh for G Tristan Jarry, D Pierre-Olivier Joseph, a 2021 second-round pick, and a 2023 second-round pick.
- Dallas traded C Radek Faksa to Vegas for a 2022 third-round pick (from Vancouver) and a 2022 fifth-round pick (from Chicago).
- In a three-way trade, Tampa Bay acquired D Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo acquired C Tyler Johnson and 2021 third-round pick (retains $2,700,000 of Ristolainen’s salary), and New Jersey acquired a 2023 third-round pick (retains $1,350,000 of Ristolainen’s salary).
- In a three-way trade, Vegas acquired D Nick Leddy, New Jersey acquired a 2021 second-round pick (retains 50 percent of Leddy’s salary), and New York Islanders acquired C Nicolas Roy and a 2021 second-round pick.
- Boston traded LW Jake DeBrusk to Montreal for a 2021 third-round pick (from Chicago) and a 2022 second-round pick.
- St. Louis traded D Vince Dunn to New Jersey for a 2021 first-round pick (from New York I.)
- Chicago traded C Dylan Strome to Montreal for a 2021 first-round pick.
- Washington trades C Evgeny Kuznetsov to Montreal for LW Jonathan Drouin, D Ben Chiarot, and a 2022 first-round pick.
- Carolina traded D Jake Gardiner and a 2022 second-round pick to Detroit for LW Evgeny Svechnikov.
- Nashville traded D Mattias Ekholm to Arizona for C Barrett Hayton, a 2021 second-round pick (from Columbus), and a 2021 fourth-round pick (from Los Angeles).
- Carolina traded the rights to D Dougie Hamilton to Philadelphia for D Yegor Zamula, a 2021 second-round pick, and a 2022 fourth-round pick.
Mock Expansion Draft Selections
Below are the protected lists, selected players, and rationale for choosing each player. Picks are listed in alphabetical order by team, not by the order in which the players were chosen by the Kraken.
THW’s Adam Kierszenblat, who covers the Kraken, weighed in on a handful of selections as well.
Acting GM: Derek Lee
Protected List: Rickard Rakell, Troy Terry, Isac Lundestrom, Max Jones, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm, Hayden Fleury, John Gibson.
Selection: Sam Steel.
Rationale: After absolutely dominating juniors, Steel had two promising seasons with the Ducks before underwhelming last year. I’m betting the 23-year-old finds his game as a member of the Kraken.
Kierszenblat’s Take: Steel did not produce as expected last season. One of the main problems is he is playing on a Ducks team that has not been good the past few years. There is reason for optimism, however. He had a shot-through percentage of 60 percent last season, which means he knows how to hit the net. Steel is a safe selection as he has room to grow and develop.
Acting GM: Louis Pannone
Protected List: Phil Kessel, Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, Christian Dvorak, Lawson Crouse, Conor Garland, Tyler Pitlick, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jakob Chychrun, Mattias Ekholm, Darcy Kuemper.
Selection: Kyle Capobianco.
Rationale: Louis offered a 2022 third-round pick to avoid drafting goaltender Adin Hill. I obliged, and selected Capobianco to add depth to the blue line.
Acting GM: Jeff Middleton
Protected List: Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Charlie Coyle, Nick Ritchie, Craig Smith, Trent Frederic, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelyck, Brandon Carlo, Daniel Vladar.
Selection: Jeremy Lauzon.
Rationale: Lauzon is a solid, all-around defenseman who’s still young (just turned 24). He was a valued contributor to Boston’s penalty kill last season and could provide the same sort of value for the Kraken.
Acting GM: Brandon Seltenrich
Protected List: Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner, Anders Bjork, Casey Mittelstadt, Victor Olofsson, Tyler Johnson, Rasmus Dahlin, Will Borgen, Henri Jokiharju, Linus Ullmark.
Selection: Cody Eakin.
Rationale: Brandon offered a sweetener to avoid choosing Tage Thompson or Rasmus Asplund. I countered with the idea to take Eakin off his hands in exchange for goaltending prospect Erik Portillo and Boston’s 2021 second-round pick (previously acquired in the Taylor Hall deal) and we struck a deal.
Acting GM: Brett Krauss
Protected List: Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev, Jacob Markstrom.
Selection: Oliver Kylington.
Rationale: Brett also negotiated a side deal. The Flames sent forward prospect Emilio Pettersen and their 2022 second-round pick to select someone other than captain Mark Giordano. Kylington was the next best choice.
Acting GM: Alex Ohari
Protected List: Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Vincent Trocheck, Nino Niederreiter, Morgan Geekie, Jaccob Slavin, Brady Skjei, Brett Pesce, Alex Nedeljkovic.
Selection: Warren Foegele.
Rationale: Despite playing just 14-plus minutes a night, Foegele had outstanding possession and expected goals metrics for the Hurricanes last season. He’ll have the chance to step into Seattle’s top six and elevate his game further.
Acting GM: Shaun Filippelli
Protected List: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex Debrincat, Brandon Hagel, Adam Gaudette, David Kampf, Henrik Borgstrom, Duncan Keith, Riley Stillman, Connor Murphy, Kevin Lankinen.
Selection: Malcolm Subban.
Rationale: Shaun is a goalie. I’m a goalie. It only made sense to select a goalie here. Plus, Chicago didn’t offer much value elsewhere.
Acting GM: Avery McGrail
Protected List: Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Andre Burakovsky, Nazem Kadri, Tyson Jost, Valeri Nichushkin, Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Sam Girard, Philipp Grubauer.
Selection: Joonas Donskoi
Rationale: Like Foegele, Donskoi produced terrific possession and goals-for metrics playing in Colorado’s middle six. He has outstanding skill and hockey IQ that’s usually overshadowed by Nathan MacKinnon and company.
Kierszenblat’s Take: Donskoi is an intriguing player who has shown he can produce when given an opportunity. He had a career-high 17 goals last season and has been a consistent 30-point player his entire career. Donskoi can also play on the power play and penalty kill. He’s a good selection, and should figure into Seattle’s top six next season.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Acting GM: Mark Scheig
Protected List: Cam Atkinson, Gustav Nyquist, Patrik Laine, Boone Jenner, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Max Domi, Jack Roslovic, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Vladislav Gavrikov, Joonas Korpisalo.
Selection: Kevin Stenlund.
Rationale: I chose Stenlund for his versatility, size, and compete level. He’s a good fit on Seattle’s fourth line.
Acting GM: Adeen Rao
Protected List: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov, Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, Joe Pavelski, Jason Dickinson, Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, Ben Bishop.
Selection: Anton Khudobin.
Rationale: Of the under-contract goalies made available in this mock draft, Khudobin was one of the best. I selected him with the intention of pairing him with another veteran netminder in a 1A/1B tandem.
Detroit Red Wings
Acting GM: Tony Wolak
Protected List: Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Jakub Vrana, Robby Fabbri, Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith, Adam Erne, Filip Hronek, Troy Stecher, Gustav Lindstrom, Thomas Greiss.
Selection: Vladislav Namestnikov.
Rationale: Namestnikov has a very palatable contract that could be spun off to a contending team in need of cheap depth. More on that shortly.
Acting GM: Sean Mallon
Protected List: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi, Cooper Marody, Kailer Yamamoto, Tyler Benson, Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Stuart Skinner.
Selection: William Lagesson.
Rationale: Sean offered a couple side deals, but none were as appealing as Lagesson and the flexibility that comes with the 25-year-old defenseman. Edmonton later acquired the player chosen from Montreal (with 50 percent salary retained) in exchange for forward prospect Carter Savoie.
Acting GM: Colby Guy
Protected List: Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patric Hornqvist, Sam Bennett, Frank Vatrano, Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair, Aaron Ekblad, MacKenzie Weegar, Gustav Forsling, Sergei Bobrovsky.
Selection: Keith Yandle.
Rationale: Colby suggested that Yandle would be willing to waive his no-movement clause to go somewhere where he’ll have a bigger role, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.
As compensation for choosing Yandle, I acquired Florida’s 2021 first-round pick and future considerations. Later on in the mock draft, the future considerations were called into effect, with the Panthers acquiring Namestnikov and Lagesson in exchange for prospects Justin Sourdif and Michael Benning, plus their 2023 second-round pick.
Los Angeles Kings
Acting GM: Austin Stanovich
Protected List: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe, Viktor Arvidsson, Lias Andersson, Trevor Moore, Drew Doughty, Matt Roy, Sean Walker, Cal Petersen.
Selection: Kale Clague.
Rationale: At every stop in his career, Clague has been an offensive contributor from the blue line. In Seattle, he’ll get the chance to do the same at the NHL level.
Kierszenblat’s Take: Clague is an interesting project player Seattle could bring in and develop. He was named the WHL defenceman of the year in 2017-18 and was part of the AHL All-Star Team in 2019-20. There is a lot of potential here for Clague to develop into a useful defenceman for the Kraken.
Acting GM: Aaron Heckmann
Protected List: Zach Parise, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Fiala, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Kaapo Kähkönen.
Selection: Matt Dumba.
Rationale: Both Aaron and I believe the Wild will swing some sort of deal to avoid Dumba being selected by the Kraken. But in our mock expansion draft, no other team struck a deal to acquire the defenseman. As a result, he’s now a member of our Kraken squad.
Kierszenblat’s Take: Dumba may be the steal of the expansion draft for Seattle. The 27-year-old defenseman played junior hockey in Portland and can play top minutes for the Kraken. If put in the right situation, he could easily crack 10 goals this season as well as 30 points.
Acting GM: Blain Potvin
Protected List: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, Brendan Gallagher, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jake DeBrusk, Dylan Strome, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Joel Edmundson, Carey Price.
Selection: Paul Byron.
Rationale: Blain negotiated a side deal involving the veteran forward. In exchange for selecting Byron, Montreal sent me their second-round picks in both 2022 and 2023.
Acting GM: Alex MacLean
Protected List: Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Luke Kunin, Colton Sissons, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Dante Fabbro, Alex Carrier, Juuse Saros.
Selection: Ryan Johansen.
Rationale: Yes, Johansen’s $8 million cap hit is worrisome, but he’s only 28 (29 at the end of July) and the Kraken need marketable players. He’ll be just fine in Seattle’s top-six for the next few seasons.
Kierszenblat’s Take: Despite having a down year in Nashville, Johansen can still produce and be Seattle’s top center. He is reliable defensively and can be a team leader. He hasn’t dropped below a 56 percent Corsi-for in the past six seasons and should be an integral part of the Kraken next season.
New Jersey Devils
Acting GM: Alex Chauvancy
Protected List: Miles Wood, Jesper Bratt, Pavel Zacha, Nico Hischier, Yegor Sharangovich, Janne Kuokkanen, Andreas Johnsson, P.K. Subban, Vince Dunn, Damon Severson, Mackenzie Blackwood.
Selection: Michael McLeod.
Rationale: Like Stenlund, McLeod brings some offense to Seattle’s fourth line. The 23-year-old scored nine goals in 52 games last season with the Devils.
New York Islanders
Acting GM: Mike Fink
Protected List: Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, J.G. Pageau, Anthony Beauvillier, Nicolas Roy, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, Semyon Varlamov.
Selection: Josh Bailey.
Rationale: Not all of my selections are young and/or cheap. Bailey does come with an expensive $5 million cap hit over the next three seasons, but is a terrific playmaker and leader who can help this franchise grow.
New York Rangers
Acting GM: Tom Castro
Protected List: Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil, Ryan Strome, Julien Gauthier, Jacob Trouba, Ryan Lindgren, Libor Hajek, Alex Georgiev.
Selection: Colin Blackwell.
Rationale: Blackwell was the most appealing Rangers option – both to me and to contending teams looking for cheap depth.
Acting GM: Dayton Reimer
Protected List: Drake Batherton, Brady Tkachuk, Colin White, Nick Paul, Connor Brown, Logan Brown, Evgenii Dadonov, Thomas Chabot, Victor Mete, Dmitri Orlov, Filip Gustavsson.
Selection: Chris Tierney.
Rationale: A free agent next summer, Tierney’s perfect for a middle-six role on a young team. He can play all three forward positions and would be solid trade bait if Seattle wants to sell at next year’s trade deadline.
Acting GM: Colin Newby
Protected List: Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick, Dougie Hamilton, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Carter Hart.
Selection: Philippe Myers.
Rationale: Myers had solid possession numbers on an underwhelming Flyers team last year and has an attractive contract. After waving goodbye to the defenseman, Colin inquired about Colin Blackwell, who was just drafted from the Rangers. We ended up settling on a deal to send Blackwell to the Flyers for prospect Connor McClennon and a 2022 fifth-round pick.
Acting GM: Panagiotis Mavridis
Protected List: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Jared McCann, Kasperi Kapanen, Teddy Blueger, Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Juuso Riikola, Robin Lehner.
Selection: Jason Zucker.
Rationale: I’m betting Zucker rebounds from an injury-plagued 2020-21 season playing in Seattle’s top six. He’s only 29 and should be able to put up 40-plus points for the Kraken.
Kierszenblat’s Take: Zucker is someone who can play on Seattle’s top three lines and on the power play next season. He’s another player who’s defensively responsible and is hungry to win.
San Jose Sharks
Acting GM: Victor Nuño
Protected List: Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Kevin Labanc, Ryan Donato, Rudolfs Balcers, Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Ilya Samsonov.
Selection: Jonathan Dahlen.
Rationale: The Sharks didn’t expose anyone noteworthy, so we’re going to take a chance on Dahlen. The 23-year-old winger produced 71 points in 45 games for Timrå (HockeyAllsvenskan) last season. Why not take a flier on an intriguing, yet older, prospect?
St. Louis Blues
Acting GM: Stephen Ground
Protected List: Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Jordan Kyrou, Brayden Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko, Robert Thomas, Oskar Sundqvist, Colton Parayko, Justin Faulk, Torey Krug, Jordan Binnington.
Selection: Zach Sanford.
Rationale: Sanford will be Seattle’s Alex Tuch. Book it.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Acting GM: Andrew Mulville
Protected List: Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde, Anthony Cirelli, Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak, Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Selection: Cal Foote.
Rationale: Andrew and I discussed a side deal involving Ryan McDonagh, but I just could not get past the term remaining on the defenseman’s lucrative contract. Instead, I chose Foote, who could develop into a well-rounded, two-way defenseman for the Kraken.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Acting GM: Matthew Zator
Protected List: Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, T.J. Brodie, Travis Dermott, Jack Campbell.
Selection: Alex Kerfoot.
Rationale: After playing behind Matthews and Tavares, it’s finally Kerfoot’s time to shine. Plus, Seattle could always use more depth at center.
Kierszenblat’s Take: An impressive aspect of Kerfoot’s game is that he can produce at even strength. He had 23 points last season with only two coming on the power play. With additional power play time, Kerfoot could easily hit 30-40 points.
Acting GM: Sartaaj Bhullar
Protected List: Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller, Tanner Pearson, Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, Nate Schmidt, Olli Juolevi, Brogan Rafferty, Thatcher Demko.
Selection: Braden Holtby.
Rationale: Holtby is heading into a contract year, and I’m sure he’ll be motivated to earn another lucrative contract. He and Khudobin will be a solid tandem for the Kraken.
Acting GM: Carl Knauf
Protected List: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Jonathan Drouin, Anthony Mantha, T.J. Oshie, Tom Wilson, Lars Eller, John Carlson, Justin Schultz, Brenden Dillon, Vitek Vanecek.
Selection: Nick Jensen.
Rationale: Jensen has been great with shot suppression and would balance out Yandle well on the blue line.
Acting GM: Declan Schroeder
Protected List: Blake Wheeler, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mark Schiefele, Nikolai Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp, Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk, Dylan DeMelo, Connor Hellebuyck.
Selection: Mason Appleton.
Rationale: It came down to Appleton and Logan Stanley for the Winnipeg selection. I ultimately decided on the forward – Appleton is just starting to scratch the surface of his offensive potential.
Kierszenblat’s Take: Appleton is fast, can chip in offensively, and can shut down the opposition’s top players. There are still some parts of his game he needs to iron out, but this is a great selection and a player you can build a third line around.
Inaugural Seattle Kraken Roster
Before getting to the initial roster, let’s do a quick check on the expansion draft rules:
- Minimum of 14 forwards: Check (17)
- Minimum of nine defensemen: Check (10)
- Minimum of three goalies: You bet (3)
- Minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 season: Yep (23)
- 2020-21 player AAVs between $48.9 million and $81.5 million: Check ($75.6 million)
After trading away a few selections and sending a few players down to the AHL, here’s how Seattle’s inaugural 23-man roster could look based on our mock draft:
|Josh Bailey||Ryan Johansen||Joonas Donskoi|
|Jason Zucker||Alex Kerfoot||Warren Foegele|
|Zach Sanford||Chris Tierney||Sam Steel|
|Mason Appleton||Michael McLeod||Kevin Stenlund|
|Philippe Myers||Matt Dumba||Anton Khudobin|
|Keith Yandle||Nick Jensen||Braden Holtby|
|Kale Clague||Cal Foote|
|Oliver Kylington||Jeremy Lauzon|
In addition, the Kraken would have several players in the system, whether that’s in the AHL, juniors, or the NCAA:
- G Malcolm Subban (AHL – subject to waivers)
- C Cody Eakin (AHL – subject to waivers)
- LW Emilio Pettersen (AHL)
- C Luke Henman (AHL)
- C Justin Sourdif (WHL)
- RW Connor McClennon (WHL)
- LW Carter Savoie (NCAA)
- D Michael Benning (NCAA)
- G Erik Portillo (NCAA)
And finally, Seattle acquired a slew off future draft picks to bolster their prospect pipeline:
- 2021 first-round pick (Florida)
- 2021 second-round pick (Boston via Buffalo)
- 2022 second-round pick (Calgary)
- 2022 second-round pick (Montreal)
- 2022 third-round pick (Arizona)
- 2022 fifth-round pick (Philadelphia)
- 2023 second-round pick (Florida)
- 2023 second-round pick (Montreal)
It’s going to be a wild July in the hockey world, starting with the Kraken joining the league and selecting their inaugural roster.
After all is said and done, Seattle’s actual team will likely look different than this one, so don’t compare the two based on matching player-for-player. Instead, compare this mock draft with the actual expansion draft based on the player types selected, plus trades and side deals completed.
And finally, if you didn’t like your team’s protected list, pre-expansion draft trades, or side deals, let your team’s general manager know. But if you enjoyed their work, give them a shout out!
Tony Wolak is based in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Detroit Red Wings for THW. As a former junior and college hockey player, Tony has a unique perspective on Red Wings topics.