There was no way to completely get out of trouble with these expansion draft rules. This is why Ron Francis remained so optimistic even after seeing a series of transactions designed to limit the options for his Seattle Kraken.
“We certainly think there will be some good players available,” Francis said.
When the anxious wait ended Sunday morning with the release of the NHL protection list, Francis and his staff found themselves with a pool of potential players that included former stars, current team captains and promising young professionals.
They also had more big names with contracts available to match than Vegas Golden Knights saw during their expansion draft process in 2017. Throw it in an environment of tight money, flat capitalization, and the new recall of mistakes made four years earlier.
The fundamental question now facing the Kraken before submitting its final expansion picks on Wednesday morning is how many big contracts to accept. Francis has the green light from the property to spend up to the $ 81.5 million cap, and must select players who make at least $ 48.9 million in this draft, but protecting available space is an advantage they can maintain over most of the league. for months and years to come.
“The only thing that we think is extremely, extremely important in this environment is the space limit,” Francis said.
There will be some difficult calls.
Here’s a look at the 10 most intriguing players left unprotected for the Seattle expansion draft:
Contract status: Five years at $ 10.5 million AAV, including an $ 11 million signing bonus due in September.
CJ’s opinion: In the words of a rival executive, “The Price thing is shocking.” Indeed. We can easily identify the fundamental drivers behind the decision, namely Price’s deep connections to Washington state and the fact that his contract is already affecting the Canadiens’ boundary situation, but that does not diminish the seismic nature of this development. Price waived a no-move expansion clause less than two weeks after playing in the Stanley Cup final, guaranteeing that Jake Allen would remain in Montreal. It’s hard to imagine Seattle now missing the opportunity to make Price the first face of its franchise.
Contract status: Free agent without restrictions.
CJ’s opinion: Landeskog’s future in Colorado is murky at best. By exposing him to sprawl, the talented Avalanche was able to protect an additional skater. But it also gave Seattle the green light to enter negotiations with its captain during an exclusive 72-hour window that opened Sunday morning. All things being equal, Landeskog would love to stay on the only NHL team he has ever played for. However, the negotiations have not been easy and now you will have the opportunity to begin to imagine what life would be like in other places.
Contract status: Two years at $ 7.5 million AAV.
CJ’s opinion: There was commercial interest in the 30-goal man five times prior to the expansion draft, underscoring his value as an asset should Seattle pick him. It could be placed directly on the top line of the Kraken or moved elsewhere for futures. Tarasenko is looking for a change of scenery and has big questions after three shoulder surgeries, but with just two years left on his contract he should ease the worries a bit.
Contract status: Four years at $ 8 million AAV.
CJ’s opinion: The cost here could be too much for Seattle, especially with so many other wealthy talents available. But it’s intriguing that Nashville exposed Johansen and Matt Duchene (five more years to $ 8 million) while protecting five defenders (Carrier / Ekholm / Fabbro / Josi / Myers). Johansen’s production has gone in the wrong direction in recent seasons, but he remains a large and experienced center with ties to the region after growing up in Vancouver.
Contract status: Four years at $ 5.167 million AAV.
CJ’s opinion: The Tampa Bay Lightning simply had too many good players to protect after winning the Stanley Cup twice in 10 months. Gourde was one of the fastest players during those races, centering a highly effective line of control with Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow and contributing some big goals along the way. Julien BriseBois chose to pursue the 4-4-1 protection strategy, keeping his top four intact on the blue line, leaving Seattle to choose between Gourde, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, Mathieu Joseph and Ross Colton. The only problem for the Kraken is that they are only allowed to take one of them.
Contract status: One year at $ 2.94 million AAV.
CJ’s opinion: This was an interesting decision as the Leafs acquired McCann in a Saturday afternoon trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins and then immediately exposed him in the expansion draft. It could be a sign that Kyle Dubas already has a trade with Francis regarding the Toronto pick or maybe McCann for expansion insurance because he guarantees that at least one of him or Alexander Kerfoot will stay with the Leafs going into next season. . McCann is coming off his most productive season in the NHL and brings versatility to the middle of the lineup. It’s hard to imagine the Leafs wanting to lose it.
Contract status: One year at $ 5.3 million AAV.
CJ’s opinion: The Columbus Blue Jackets are getting a facelift and haven’t left Seattle with a more attractive option than Domi. He is coming off a difficult season, but has a long NHL production history and is capable of playing both wing and center. As a bonus, Domi is one year away from unrestricted free agency, making him a potential asset to be released on the 2022 trade deadline.
Age: 2. 3
Contract status: Restricted free agent.
CJ’s opinion: Carolina aggressively sought to make a deal in recent weeks that would alleviate her expansion protection issues, but was unable to find the right fit. Now the Hurricanes risk losing Bean for nothing after his first full NHL season. He was selected 13th in the 2016 draft when Francis sat at the head of the Carolina draft table. Bean is a young, cost-controlled asset with his best years still ahead.
Contract status: Three years at $ 3 million AAV.
CJ’s opinion: Players with DeMelo attributes are always in high demand. He’s a shrewd, effective, right-hand defender signed to a reasonable contract. Those qualities should make it attractive to the Kraken as a business asset, even if it doesn’t fit directly into your own plans. The Winnipeg Jets certainly don’t want to see him go, but they came under pressure with 23-year-old Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk and Logan Stanley, who also needed protection among their defenders.
Contract status: One year at $ 6.75 million AAV.
CJ’s opinion: Even if this wasn’t a huge surprise, it could start a wave of change in Calgary. Giordano is approaching 1,000 games in his career with the franchise and has served as captain since Jarome Iginla left town. From a roster management standpoint, it was an easy choice to protect Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson and Chris Tanev for where they are in their careers, but seen through the lens of team culture, it was more difficult to expose Giordano. He would be a great mentor for the Kraken to start their team.
Honorable mentions: Nino Neiderreiter, James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, Jason Zucker, Adam Henrique, Andreas Johnson, Brenden Dillon, Jonathan Quick.