2021 NHL Expansion Draft: Notable Players Available for Seattle Kraken

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Jim Bennett/Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price,
Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog and St. Louis Blues
winger Vladimir Tarasenko headline the group of players left
available for potential selection by the Seattle Kraken during the
2021 NHL expansion draft Wednesday.

SiriusXM NHL Network Radio provided a
look at some of the other high-profile names available for the Kraken:

SiriusXM NHL Network Radio @SiriusXMNHL

Notable names left exposed for the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NHL</a> Expansion Draft.<br><br>Carey Price, <br>Vladimir Tarasenko, <br>Gabriel Landeskog, <br>Ryan Johansen, <br>Matt Duchene, <br>James van Riemsdyk, <br>Mark Giordano, <br>Jonathan Drouin, <br>Yanni Gourde, <br>Tyler Johnson, <br>Jason Zucker, <br>Ryan Getzlaf, <br>Nino Nieddereiter

The NHL published the complete list of protected players ahead of the draft.

Seattle is going to select a minimum of
14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies during the expansion
draft. The remaining selections can come from any position.

The Kraken also have an exclusive
negotiation window with potential free agents through Wednesday. If
they sign any players during that period, it will count toward their
selection from the player’s last team.

While there were a lot of marquee names
left unprotected, it doesn’t mean they will all be selected by Seattle
general manager Ron Francis. He has a pretty good playbook to follow
after the Vegas Golden Knights maximized their leverage in the 2017
expansion draft to become an immediate Stanley Cup contender.

One tactic used successfully by Vegas was accepting
assets, mostly in the form of draft picks, in order to select specific players or to overlook certain players.

For example, the Winnipeg Jets traded
the No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 draft and a third-round choice in 2019 in exchange for the Golden Knights taking Chris
Thorburn and the No. 24 pick in the
2017 draft.

Vegas later flipped Nick Suzuki, the
No. 13 selection in 2017, in a blockbuster deal for Max Pacioretty in 2018.

So there will be plenty of wheeling and
dealing by the Kraken’s front office ahead of Wednesday, and they
probably have even more leverage than Vegas did because opposing NHL
teams are dealing with roster issues related to the flat salary cap
coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have $81.5 million of cap
space to play with, so that’s certainly something we want to make
sure we try to take advantage of moving forward,” Francis told Tracey Myers of NHL.com on Saturday.

Although names like Price ($10.5
million cap hit), Tarasenko ($7.5 million) and Landeskog (impending
UFA due for a big deal) jump out at first glance, Seattle is unlikely
to go all-in on high-priced veterans since its cap flexibility is
such a major advantage.

Players like the Tampa Bay Lightning’s
Yanni Gourde ($5.2 million) and Toronto Maple Leafs’ Alexander
Kerfoot ($3.5 million) are the sort of cost-effective options who figure to
attract attention.

As a whole, the Kraken were already in a
promising position entering their debut offseason, and the protection
lists appear to put them in an even stronger spot. They will either be
able to select some high-impact players or obtain significant
assets to accelerate their building process.

Vegas set a high standard by making the
Stanley Cup Final in its first season, and while that’s probably too
lofty of an expectation, Seattle should at least be highly
competitive out of the gate.

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