Senators Give Kraken Some Good Options in Expansion Draft

The Seattle Kraken, with the guidance of general manager Ron Francis, has started to finalize which players they will be taking in the NHL Expansion Draft on Wednesday. With the protection lists officially handed in on Saturday and becoming publicly available on Sunday morning, we’re starting to get a better idea of how the Kraken may look when the puck drops for the 2021-2022 season.

The Ottawa Senators‘ protection list had no surprises. It featured Drake Batherson, Connor Brown, Logan Brown, Nick Paul, Brady Tkachuk, Austin Watson, Colin White, Thomas Chabot, Victor Mete, Nikita Zaitsev and Filip Gustavsson. There are some arguments to be made that Evgenii Dadonov should have been protected instead of Watson. In any case, there are a few Senators that the Kraken will have a shot at taking, but who should they go for?

Who Is Available?

The Senators come into this year’s expansion looking much different from the previous one for the Vegas Golden Knights. In fact, just one player (Mikael Wikstrand) that was either protected or exposed by Ottawa in 2017 is still with the team. When the Golden Knights drafted their team, they selected Marc Methot from the Sens. Five days later, Methot was flipped by Vegas to the Dallas Stars for rights to Dylan Ferguson and a second-round pick in the 2020 draft. That trade actually came full circle for the Senators. On Feb. 25, 2019, Vegas traded that second-round pick in 2020 (Egor Sokolov) Erik Brannstrom and Oscar Lindberg to Ottawa for Tobias Lindberg and Mark Stone.

Marc Methot as an Ottawa Senators on November 15, 2016 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the long run, the Vegas Expansion didn’t hurt the Senators. Some may view it as losing Methot and then Stone to Vegas, but in return, they got two solid pieces that have a chance at cracking the lineup full-time sooner rather than later. It also kicked started (after the Stone trade) their rebuild. This time around, when the Kraken chooses a Senator, it won’t nearly have the effect that Vegas’ did. For reference, here is the list of players that the Senators have exposed to Seattle.

  • Vitaly Abramov (F)
  • Michael Amadio (F)
  • Artem Anisimov (F)
  • J.C. Beaudin (F)
  • Clark Bishop (F)
  • Evgenii Dadonov (F)
  • Jonathan Davidsson (F)
  • Ryan Dzingel (F)
  • Micheal Haley (F)
  • Jack Kopacka (F)
  • Zachary Magwood (F)
  • Matthew Peca (F)
  • Logan Shaw (F)
  • Derek Stepan (F)
  • Chris Tierney (F)
  • Josh Brown (D)
  • Cody Goloubef (D)
  • Mikael Wikstrand (D)
  • Joey Daccord (G)
  • Anton Forsberg (G)
  • Marcus Hogberg (G)
  • Matt Murray (G)

While a few names stand out like Dadonov, Chris Tierney and Matt Murray, if the Senators lose either one of those players, it won’t hinder them moving forward. In Murray’s case, he wasn’t thrown off by being made available to the Kraken and understands it’s part of the business and that the Sens would rather protect a younger, more promising prospect in Gustavsson. Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is taking a calculated risk in exposing the goalie, believing that the Kraken won’t take him.

The 27-year-old netminder has three years remaining with an average annual value (AAV) of $6.25 million and statistically had the worst season of his career, posting a 3.38 goals-against average (GAA) and a 0.893 save percentage (SV%). Not to mention, free-agent goalie Chris Driedger is reportedly closing in on a deal with Seattle to become their first goalie. So, that crosses off one of the three goalie positions for them.

Matt Murray Ottawa Senators
Matt Murray, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With Murray most likely being left off of Seattle’s radar, the focus shifts to Dadonov and Tierney. Both players were left exposed due to the fact that they just simply aren’t a part of Ottawa’s main core. Tierney, who has been a Senator since 2018 after he was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the blockbuster Erik Karlsson trade, has tailed off since putting up 48 points in 81 games in his first season with Ottawa. With a $3.5 million cap hit for one more season, that would be a good contract for Ottawa to lose. If Seattle takes him, it most likely means they are willing to take the one-year cap hit to help reach the floor and have a solid third or fourth line guy. The smarter hockey move comes in the form of Dadonov.

Dadonov Has the Most Upside

Not only is Dadonov the best player available for Seattle to draft, but he also has a connection already with the team. It’s not direct, but it should force the Kraken to highly consider taking him. Kraken assistant coach Paul McFarland was an assistant on the coaching staff for the Florida Panthers from 2017-2019, where Dadonov had played. McFarland coached the Panthers’ power play, which was atop the league at the time, and saw how well Dadonov excelled in that position.

Dadonov has scored 104 goals and 222 points in 335 games in his NHL career. He signed a three-year, $15 million deal as an unrestricted free agent last October, and he finished with just 13 goals and 20 points in 55 games with the Senators this season. For someone of his calibre, this isn’t anything near to what the team expected when they signed him. If he had shown signs of what he did in Florida with the Senators, then he probably would have been protected.

Evgenii Dadonov Florida Panthers
Evgenii Dadonov, formerly with the Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It has been reported that the Senators are looking to add a premiere centreman to their team via trade or free agency. If they lose Tierney, the position opens up automatically. If they lose Dadonov, they gain more cap space and can re-explore the Tierney trade market, one that they tried to do at this year’s trade deadline. There were a few teams interested in him in March so getting moved is a strong possibility. He’s a good penalty killer but lacks consistency, and he wasn’t involved in head coach D.J. Smith’s plans too often.

If the Kraken takes Dadonov, there’s a better chance he finds his game again over Tierney. He would have just two years left at $5 million, so it’s a fairly reasonable contract for the potential upside he brings. For the Senators, it would hurt to lose him but not nearly as much as originally thought because of his play this season and the amount of younger prospects in the system that are jockeying for a position on the roster full-time.

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