As someone who covers both the Seattle Kraken and Edmonton Oilers, I’m excited to be part of this mock Expansion Draft. While some things have changed since our protected lists were submitted, the potential scenarios haven’t altered much. The big news that Duncan Keith joins the Oilers from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Caleb Jones doesn’t change much, as Jones was already on my protected list, and Keith will simply slide into that spot, especially since his contract comes with a no-movement clause.
In Tony Wolak’s detailed mock draft article, the Oilers chose the 7-3-1 option in the interest of protecting the highest number of players. The protected forwards were obvious: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (extended long term since my picks were submitted), Jesse Puljujärvi, and Kailer Yamamoto.
Prospect Tyler Benson requires protection if the Oilers want to keep him, either in Bakersfield or the NHL next year, and I thought he showed enough in 2020-21 to do so. Finally, I selected Cooper Marody as the seventh forward. Like Benson, he wasn’t exempt, and while I’m not certain he’s an NHL player, I thought it better to protect the young prospects over ultimately replaceable bottom-six NHLers like Josh Archibald or Jujhar Khaira.
Defence Was the Difficult Decision
Protecting the Oilers defense required more thought. I assumed (rightly, so far) that general manager Ken Holland would hold off on re-signing his unrestricted free agents and left players like Tyson Barrie, Adam Larsson, and Dmitri Kulikov unprotected. Likewise, Oscar Klefbom, whose injury recovery updates are increasingly gloomy since his surgery on March 26, didn’t merit protection. It risked possible selection, but we escaped that fate in the mock draft, and I think it’s unlikely to happen in the real draft in a little over a week. Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear, and
Caleb Jones(Duncan Keith) were the three defenders I selected.
This left William Lagesson exposed, who was selected by Seattle. When I inquired about payment in draft picks to change the Kraken’s mind, I was told Lagesson had already been moved off their roster in another side deal. He’ll be a Florida Panther in the imaginary 2021-22 season, and I think it’s a good landing spot for the defensive defenseman. His loss hurts Edmonton’s depth slightly, but with several up-and-coming prospects with higher ceilings, the writing may have already been on the wall.
Goaltending and a Traded Prospect
Edmonton doesn’t need to worry about losing a goaltender to Seattle. Protecting Stuart Skinner removed the already thin possibility that a goalie would be the most attractive player available, so it’s no surprise that none was taken. When offered a 3rd-round pick to take backup goaltender Mikko Koskinen off the Oilers’ hands, the Kraken GM declined, finding better options among the other 29 teams. My other pre-draft offers of a 3rd to select Zack Kassian or a 2nd to take James Neal were also passed over. After Seattle’s selections were made, however, I had an opportunity to add a player to Edmonton’s roster, though some will take issue with the price.
After some negotiating, the Kraken selected Paul Byron from the Montreal Canadiens. The 50% salary retention caught my eye, as did Byron’s speed in the Habs’ unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final, and so I made an offer to add him to the Oilers. After some back and forth, the prospect going the other way turned out to be Carter Savoie, selected 100 overall in the 2020 NHL Draft. Savoie scored at will playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (his native province) and had a decent first season at the University of Denver, but the Oilers needed to add a player for today, rather than waiting for yet another prospect to develop, and one who is arguably behind Dylan Holloway and Raphael Lavoie on the depth chart.
Like the Vegas Golden Knights Expansion Draft, Edmonton didn’t lose a significant piece to the Kraken. While Lagesson may go on to have a successful NHL career, he is easily replaceable, and nobody in Edmonton is worried about playing against his new team now that he is on it. Losing only a 4th-round selection from the 2014 Entry Draft seems like a win for the organization at first glance. What should concern Oilers fans is that four years after the Vegas Expansion, the roster is so thin that losing a player to the Kraken doesn’t hurt. Depth has been a constant concern since McDavid’s draft year, and if this upcoming offseason doesn’t change that, their Cup window will close before they know it.
Canadian, Hockey Fan since birth, Husband, Father, and follower of all things Oilers and Kraken.