Seattle Kraken expansion draft: Salk’s dream team from available players
It’s hard to believe that the years of anticipation, excitement, and preparation will finally lead us to the first major step in the construction of the actual Seattle Kraken team that we will root for. The Kraken will be formed from clay beginning with the expansion draft Wednesday night, and the rules are definitely in their favor.
On Sunday, we learned which players are available. At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Kraken announce their picks (and we’ll have live coverage on 710 ESPN Seattle with me, Bob Stelton and NHL Network’s Jon Morosi).
Here is a list of a few players that I’d be psyched to hear announced as members of the initial team.
• Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames
Giordano has a few things going for him. He’s a natural captain, which is of great importance to a new franchise. Coach Dave Hakstol will need someone to lead the room and he has that experience. He’s also a physical defensive presence (my top need for any new team), plus his salary expires after this year if you want to move him for future help. This is an obvious choice.
— NHL (@NHL) March 30, 2019
This is a huge risk as Tarasenko has had some major shoulder injuries, but he has the highest scoring upside available and is among the most creative players in the league. We’ve heard rumors he could be selected and traded, but I’d love to see his upside here. No other available player could ignite and excite a rookie crowd like he could.
• Jordan Eberle, F, New York Islanders
Eberle is a personal favorite of mine. He is a solid winger who scores 20 goals per season and has playoff experience. Some mocks believe he is too expensive but I would spend it on a guy like this because of his dependability. The Islanders have some other players I like including Josh Bailey and free agents Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas.
— NHL (@NHL) September 16, 2020
• James van Riemsdyk, F, Phildelphia Flyers
Just can’t pass up the veteran goal scoring. JVR is a top line scorer who should be familiar to fans. It may feel like he has been around forever after entering the league at just 20 years old, but he is just 31.
— NHL (@NHL) April 17, 2021
There’s obvious risk here as Driedger has not played too many games, but the upside is huge while the cost is not. There are plenty of reasons to select prized Canadiens goalie Carey Price, but he is way too expensive for too much injury risk. Taking on $10 million a year for a former MVP with a hip injury could set up for the future or completely destroy the first few years of the franchise. I’m too risk averse, especially with quality goalies available.
• Kaapo Kähkönen, G, Minnesota Wild
Young, cheap, decent goaltending is at a premium and Kähkönen is another high-upside, low-risk play.
— NHL (@NHL) March 17, 2021
The knock on Gourde is that he’s overpaid for a third-line center, but any good team needs solid, two-way play from the center position and Gourde can offer that. He can score (two seasons of 20-plus goals), play in all three zones, and has recent Stanley Cup experience. This one is close to a no-brainer.
• Nikita Zadorov, D, Chicago Blackhawks
Zadorov is 6 foot 6 and 236 pounds. That is a mammoth beast. I watched what Zdeno Chara did for the Bruins when he arrived in Boston in 2006. While he isn’t 6-9, Zadarov may Chara-lite.
— NHL (@NHL) October 14, 2019
I like the “big and bruising” description for Bastian, and with Johnsson I love the word “tenacious” and term “breakout potential,” plus he has been described as someone who plays both ways.
• Brenden Dillon, D, Washington Capitols
Physical presence in front of the net.
— NHL (@NHL) May 16, 2021
• Dylan Gambrell, C, San Jose Sharks
Local product (Bonney Lake) but another two-way center who can kill penalties. Need guys like that.
— NHL (@NHL) September 25, 2019
More on the Seattle Kraken expansion draft
• Former MVP Carey Price among top players left unprotected
• ESPN ‘s Greg Wyshynski: How Kraken will approach expansion draft
• John Forslund, voice of Kraken, says get a goalie, map out a long-term plan