The Seattle Kraken will become the next franchise to join the NHL for the 2021-22 season, bringing the number of teams up to 32. Their first step as a new franchise will be to fill out their roster in the Expansion Draft. The Kraken get to select one unprotected player from each NHL team except the Vegas Golden Knights, who joined the league in 2017.
The Expansion Draft provides the backbone of a new NHL franchise and each player they select is crucial in building the team. This means that the Dallas Stars will lose a player after this upcoming season concludes. The Stars have a few scenarios to think about when it comes to the upcoming Expansion Draft. For the Kraken, they get to hold all the cards and have the day to build their franchise. There will be another full season before the draft comes so it’s something to think about because the time is fast approaching.
Thems the Rules
The 2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft will feature the same rules as the Golden Knights did in 2017 with one exception, the Golden Knights are exempt from giving up a player. Each team gets two options in protecting its players. Either they can protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goaltender or eight skaters and a goaltender. A no-movement clause (NMC) means the player must be protected by the team. The Kraken must select a minimum of 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders.
Look What Vegas Did!
The previous expansion draft before 2017 allowed teams to protect more players. With a more limited protection selection, Vegas built a championship-caliber team from the island of lost and forgotten toys that the other 30 teams gave up. They built a team that has made the playoffs in all of their first three seasons with two trips to the Western Conference Final and one Stanley Cup Final appearance.
The Golden Knights selected forward Cody Eakin from the Stars who put up solid numbers for them. Draft day will be all about the Kraken like it was for the Golden Knights. All eyes will be on them as they will look to repeat what the Golden Knights did in their inaugural season.
Not Taking Their Talents to the Emerald City
Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are staying put in Dallas for the time being. They will be under contract with the team whenever the draft takes place and have NMCs. Alexander Radulov has a modified NMC which means he can choose to add the Kraken to his list of teams he wants to go to. If not, the Stars have to protect him.
There is a problem with goaltending. Ben Bishop has both a modified no-trade clause (NTC) and NMC. Simply put, with the required one goaltender protection, Anton Khudobin must be exposed to selection unless Bishop waives his rights or is traded.
The 11 Stars Players They Should Protect
Benn and Seguin must be protected. Radulov’s protection requirement is tentative. The Stars should also protect Radek Faksa, Denis Gurianov, and Roope Hintz. Faksa, Gurianov, and Hintz are depth forwards with favorable contracts. This leaves a choice for one out of either upcoming restricted free agents in Jason Dickinson or Joel Kiviranta.
Choosing three defensemen is easier. Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, and Miro Heiskanen are the ones the Stars should keep. With the goaltending contract situation mentioned above, the Stars must protect Bishop.
Kraken Will Break Stars Fans Hearts
It’s a simple answer on who the Kraken should select, one that Stars fans will not like. Khudobin provides options for the Kraken as either starter or backup. They get a solid goaltender that can play starter’s minutes at a good price. At the time of the draft, Khudobin will have two years left on a $3.33 million AAV contract.
Khudobin proved himself as a playoff goaltender by stepping into the spotlight during the 2020 playoffs. He has Stanley Cup Final experience and only allowed eight goals in five games to the Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final.
Here’s a 3rd Round Pick, Go Buy Yourself Something Nice
The Golden Knights made many trades in terms of “forced selection.” Sort of like legal bribing. Teams offered them an entry draft pick in exchange for selecting a specific player. Joe Pavelski signed a 3-year, $21 million contract with the Stars prior to the 2019-20 season. His deal included a modified NMC until the 2020-21 season concludes so he can be unprotected. Instead of taking Khudobin, the Stars can offer a third-round pick in exchange for the Kraken selecting Pavelski.
If this were the case, then the Kraken get a solid veteran forward for one year while Dallas clears out $7 million in cap space. The Stars have room to work with because they have all seven picks on the upcoming entry draft. The Stars could also offer a fifth-round pick in exchange for them selecting Kiviranta or Dickinson.
Stars’ Last Expansion Draft for Awhile
With 32 teams now in the NHL, the chances of a 33rd or 34th team are extremely low. For all 30 teams excluding the Golden Knights, this should be the last time everyone has to give up a player for several years. The Stars are in great shape in terms of draft protection. They have assets that if selected, can be a win-win situation for both teams.
The Kraken will be getting a good player in whoever they pick off the Dallas roster. For the Stars, they have options to choose how they want to proceed. These options will extend from the results of the upcoming 2020-21 NHL season. The circumstances may change but at least they can prepare for the above-mentioned scenarios. As the old saying goes, nothing ever goes according to plan.