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Seattle Kraken PxP John Forslund previews expansion draft: Get a goalie, map out a long-term plan

The Las Vegas Golden Knights built their expansion draft around goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. (Getty)

We’re now a week away from seeing what the first-ever Seattle Kraken roster will look like as the July 21 expansion draft is right around the corner.

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Someone who will be on top of all the Kraken news going forward is veteran announcer John Forslund, who will call play-by-play for Seattle on ROOT Sports starting this fall.

Forslund joined Paul Gallant and Michael Bumpus on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Wednesday to share his thoughts on how the Kraken should approach the draft.

We don’t yet know which players on opposing NHL rosters will be protected and made available in the expansion draft, but Forslund compared Saturday’s deadline for teams to reveal their protected lists and the draft itself to Christmas morning.

“I know as a young kid I didn’t really care what was under the tree until Christmas arrived, and I wasn’t trying to figure it out,” he said. “A week from today we’ll get to that point and it will be a great day for the Kraken, a great day for the Kraken nation and the area and we’ll see what the first roster looks like. And then we can start to look at things and see where players fit and what kind of team this is going to be.”

Gallant said he looks forward to the Kraken adding a player from the Tampa Bay Lightning, who just won their second straight Stanley Cup. Forslund noted that the Kraken will be adding a player from every NHL roster except the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

“That will happen and that could be a variety of different names, a variety of different ways (Seattle Kraken general manager) Ron Francis can go about putting his first roster in place,” Forslund said. “A lot of these situations are connected to each other. So as he goes down the list and he drafts his allotment of forwards, defensemen and the goalies, each box is checked along the way and he might have to shift philosophies.”

Those philosophies, Forslund said, aren’t just in how players perform on the ice. He noted that the Kraken could target a bigger name at a position and then go with younger guys at that spot with the other picks. He also said that the team could approach the draft in different ways in terms of salary and length of player contracts.

“Ron’s looked at this for a long time and he’ll be very secretive and I know him very well and that’s how he does business, and that’s good,” said Forslund, who spent time with Francis when both were with the Carolina Hurricanes organization.

Bumpus wanted Forslund’s opinion on what the most important position in hockey is, noting that guard play is key in the NBA and that quarterbacks are king in the NFL. So what do the Kraken need to make sure they solidify next week?

“The most essential position in hockey is pretty obvious – it’s the goalie, right?” Forslund said.

The Kraken will have the same expansion draft format as the Golden Knights, who in four seasons have made two Western Conference Finals and appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season. Forslund said that Vegas “set the bar really high” for the Kraken as a result, and a large part of that team’s success is because of the goalie.

“They did it by drafting Marc-André Fleury, their (star) goaltender as the first pick,” Forslund said of the Golden Knights. “I’m not sure (Francis is) going to go with the first player picked (being) a goalie – there’s no way of knowing that. But he’s going to make sure he’s going to build from that position out, I would assume … and then he’s going to build (with) players that will fit a short-term plan and a long-term plan.”

Having both clear plans for the short- and long-term is key for this expansion franchise, Forslund said.

“Yes, it would be great to jump in there and compete – and I think they will. How much they compete and whether or not they make the playoffs in Year 1 remains to be seen,” he said. “But there’s also a bigger goal in mind: to get to three, four or five years into this franchise’s existence and be really relevant by then and have a team that’s really knocking on the door and in the playoffs on an annual basis and with a real chance to win a Stanley Cup … Anyone can get in (to the playoffs) and have a great run, but it’s your viability as a franchise year to year, that’s what you want to solidify, and I think that’s going to be one of (Francis’) prime targets.”

Listen to the interview in the first hour of Wednesday’s Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

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Danny and Gallant Show