It’s been four years, and the Vegas Golden Knights don’t yet have a top center. The Seattle Kraken are headed down a similar path, though they could get lucky with a mild reclamation project. The NHL will announce the Seattle expansion draft picks Wednesday evening, though leaked footage shows they’re narrowing their choices or already making picks. We’re still debating the Pittsburgh Penguins lost player, and Carey Price is still twisting in the wind.
PHN will throw our best shot at the expansion draft. Given the secrecy surrounding Seattle’s process, we’re hoping to bat 50%. We also invite you to make a few picks in the comments too.
The $81.5 million salary cap will work against Seattle as the best players exposed from too many teams are expensive veterans who have recently failed to live up to their contract, like Vladimir Tarasenko.
The Vegas Golden Knights pilfered NHL teams with side deals such as getting Jonathan Marchessault AND Reilly Smith from Florida in a midnight madness BOGO sale. Vegas also got Alex Tuch as a throw-in to make another selection from Minnesota.
NHL GMs learned their lesson. Seattle GM Ron Francis adjusted. Those side deals weren’t as generous this time, so rather than lowering his asking price, Francis tripled the price. The result was better players available.
PHN will veer into a few unorthodox picks, primarily to fill the center role. There is only one free agent pivot who scored more than 31 points last season, so that group classifies as weak, and the only chance to fill the space is in the draft. The Pittsburgh Penguins protected list included both of their centers who could have been exposed, Teddy Blueger and Jeff Carter, which looks like a wise decision in light of the cards on the table.
The center position prohibits taking some players we really like. We’re only going to fill the lineup, not all 30, and we can’t predict trades (except the publicized likely trade with Florida), so we’ll skip those, too.
PHN Expansion Draft
- Ryan Johansen, Nashville (He makes $8 million for four more seasons and scored only 22 points (7-15-22) last season, but he’s 28 and only two seasons removed from three straight solid productions, 61, 54, and 64 points, respectively).
- Yanni Gourde, Tampa Bay
- Max Domi, Columbus
- Adam Gaudette, Chicago (we needed a cheap fourth-line center, and Chicago’s list is shallow).
- James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia
- Jared McCann, Toronto (We think he’s a perfect Dave Hakstol/Ron Francis player)
- Frank Vatrano, trade with Florida for Chris Driedger
- Conor Sheary, Washington
- Nino Niederreiter, Carolina
- Kieffer Bellow, Islanders (read Christian Arnold’s report from NYIHockeyNow. The Islanders are pushing hard for Seattle to take Jordan Eberle, we pass based on money).
- Jonas Donskoi, Colorado
- Brendan Lemieux, Los Angeles (He’s $2 million less than Brandon Tanev, which saves money and opens the door for Marcus Pettersson).
- LHD Mark Giordano, Calgary (Captain)
- LHD Marcus Pettersson, Pittsburgh Penguins
- LHD Haydn Fleury, Anaheim
- RHD Troy Stetcher, Detroit
- RHD Connor Clifton, Boston
- RHD Adam Larsson, Edmonton–SIGNED Wednesday morning. $4 million, AAV.
- Chris Driedger, Florida
Kaapo Kahkonen, Minnesota (Carey Price’s injuries, with that contract, are just too risky)
Now for the math: After several attempts, this lineup costs about $68 million after Larsson’s signing and pending Vince Dunn’s new contract. That cap hit should allow plenty of money for depth players and to chase free agents. Hello Ryan Suter? Mike Hoffman?
I went back and forth on Tarasenko. Could Seattle pick and flip him? The offers weren’t that good on Saturday, so despite my desire for a star, Tarasenko isn’t my guy. Vince Dunn was a better pick than Kevin Shattenkirk, so we went that route.
How do you think we did?