Seattle Kraken Breakdown: A close look at all 30 expansion draft picks
The Seattle Kraken officially have their first roster as the 30-player expansion draft is now in the books.
Once the dust settled, the Kraken selected 12 defensemen, 15 forwards and centers and three goalies on Wednesday, with one player coming from each other NHL team except the recent expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights.
On 710 ESPN Seattle, Mike Salk and NHL Network insider Jon Morosi joined Bob Stelton during the expansion draft to share their thoughts on many of the picks. Watch the whole show in the video embedded below, and then read our close look at all 30 members of the Seattle Kraken, including thoughts from Morosi and Salk on most of Seattle’s selections.
• Anaheim Ducks: Haydn Fleury, D
The Kraken will begin play in the NHL with a brother tandem as Hayden Fleury was joined by Cale Fleury, a fellow defenseman from the Montreal Canadiens, as an expansion draft pick by Seattle GM Ron Francis. Haydn Fleury actually has history with Francis, who selected him seventh overall in the 2014 NHL Draft for the Carolina Hurricanes. Fleury was traded to the Ducks in April, splitting his season between Carolina and Anaheim.
— NHL (@NHL) August 19, 2020
A younger defensemen at 24 years old, Lauzon joins the Kraken after spending his entire pro career in Boston, where he was a second-round pick in 2015.
“I think he’s a guy who’s a bit more physical, bigger, may even be a threat to drop the gloves on occasion,” Salk said.
Another 24-year-old defender, Borgen made his NHL debut last season for Buffalo.
“Will Borgen is someone who is a defensemen with depth,” Morosi said. “He’s probably going to play somewhere in the third pairing. A young defensemen. And from the perspective of what he’s going to earn against the salary cap … it’s in the same range of what Jeremy Lauzon will earn.”
• Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano, D
Arguably the biggest name to join the Kraken, Giordano is 37 years old and has been the Flames’ longtime captain. He won the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2019, which is awarded to the league’s top defensemen.
Both Salk and Morosi see Giordano as being Seattle’s first captain and true leader.
“This was probably the easiest decision Ron Francis had to make in this period. The fact that there was a guy with his level of both ability and presence and what he brings to not just their on-ice component but also dressing room,” Salk said. “… What a fantastic early representative here for the Kraken. And oh by the way, if you don’t end up being as good as you want to be in your first year, he’s going to be worth quite a bit in the trade market at midseason.”
“This is a guiding person to have on your club,” Morosi added. “… Is he getting up there in years? Of course he is. But we have seen defensemen who are so smart – and Mark Giordano is so smart – be able to play at a high level late into their career and I think that’s what Mark Giordano is able to do here for the Seattle Kraken in Year 1.”
— NHL (@NHL) May 10, 2021
Like Haydn Fleury, Geekie is a former draft pick by Francis for the Hurricanes, going to Carolina in the third round in 2017. According to The News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C., Geekie played mostly on the fourth line for Carolina in 2020-21, registering three goals and nine assists in 36 games, and also played in three games in the playoffs against eventual champion Tampa Bay. The newspaper also points out that the former Tri-City American had one of the more memorable quotes of the year in response to a question about how he rebounds from losses and moves on to the next game. “If we stick to our game, at the end of the day you can’t out-pizza the Hut, you know what I mean?” Geekie said.
Quenneville, 25, made 11 appearances – nine in the regular season and two in the postseason – for Chicago during the 2019-20 season, with zero points. He was with the minor league Rockford Ice Hogs all of last season. The choice of Quenneville helps the Kraken’s financial flexibility under the NHL salary cap.
• Colorado Avalanche: Joonas Donskoi, F
The 29-year-old Donskoi was eighth on the Avalanche in points last season with 31 in 51 games. Previously with the San Jose Sharks for four years, Donskoi was Colorado’s typical third-line right winger and the bumper position on the No. 1 power play, according to The Denver Post.
Less than 90 seconds in and Joonas Donskoi is doing THIS. 😳 pic.twitter.com/wiTEP9XQg5
— NHL (@NHL) March 27, 2021
In 28 games with the Blue Jackets, Bayreuther scored three goals and has made three assists. The 24-year-old defenseman also spent a season with the Dallas Stars.
• Dallas Stars: Jamie Oleksiak, D
Olesiak is a massive man at 6 foot 7. The Stars’ first-round pick in 2011, Olesiak is known for his physicality and he’s not afraid to get into a scrap on the ice.
“For me, the Oleksiak pick is as exciting as any pick the Kraken have made to this point,” Morosi said. “I’m a huge Oleksiak fan … Recent playoff experience, really big frame, he plays a physical style. I really love the pick.”
Breakaway. @jamieoleksiak. HANDS.
— NHL (@NHL) September 11, 2020
Another young defensemen, Cholowski was the Red Wings’ first-round pick in 2016 and is from nearby Langley, British Columbia, which is the hometown of Mariners pitcher James Paxton.
“Another depth defensemen. There’s very much a theme here,” Morosi said. “Ron Francis is going heavy with a lot of depth defensemen. It seems this roster is tilted towards defense, which is a sound approach. Cholowski is someone I think will be fighting for those third pairing minutes with the likes of Lauzon and Borgen as well.”
Larsson, 28, was one of the players the Kraken used their exclusive negotiating window to get, as ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reported that he signed a four-year, $16 million deal to join the expansion franchise. The 6-foot-3, 208-pound native of Sweden played in 56 games last season plus four in the playoffs, and had 10 points in the regular season for Edmonton. He was a first-round pick in 2011 by New Jersey.
• Florida Panthers: Chris Driedger, G
The first of three goalies the Kraken selected, Dreidger, 27, will reportedly sign a three-year, $10.5 million deal with Seattle. He was drafted by Ottawa and spent the last two seasons with the Panthers. He made 23 starts in 2020-21 with a 2.07 goals against average (GAA) and .927 save percentage.
Notably, the Kraken selected Dreidger to be the presumed starter at goalie rather than the more expensive but well-known Casey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
“Driedger to me, his addition here is the reason why Carey Price isn’t going to be the Kraken goaltender because Driedger is someone if you actually look at his performance this past year, in the regular season, his goals allowed average was actually better than Carey Price’s,” Morosi said. “… Driedger right now is just entering his prime whereas Price (is not and has injury concerns).”
PULLED OFF THE LINE 😱
— NHL (@NHL) April 14, 2021
If you’re looking for fights out of the Kraken, MacDermid may be the player to watch. As for what he does on the ice besides roughhouse, the 27-year-old son of former NHL player Paul MacDermid has 17 points and 151 penalty minutes in 118 career games, all with the Kings.
And yet another young defensemen, Soucy, a fifth-round pick by Minnesota in 2013, has two years left on his current contract.
“Watch for him,” Morosi said. “Physical style defensively.”
The run on young defensemen continued with Montreal’s Fleury, the 22-year-old brother of Haydn.
“Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Cale Fleury, another depth defensemen,” Salk said. “I don’t know if he makes this squad looking at (the other defensemen Seattle drafted). I already have six better defensemen on the roster, so we’ll see what happens.”
• Nashville Predators: Calle Järnkrok, C
Järnkrok scored 13 goals and recorded 15 assists last year for Nashville. The 2010 second-round pick of Detroit is 29 years old and is on the final year of his deal.
Morosi thinks he can get even better by joining the Kraken.
“Järnkrok is known for his ability to play up and down the lineup,” Morosi said. “He can play center, he can play wing. He’s a very versatile player for Nashville. I’ve really liked watching his game evolve … With additional minutes and power play time, Calle Järnkrok could be one of the breakout stars in Year 1 for the Kraken.”
Swing and a goal from Calle Jarnkrok! pic.twitter.com/FFXWOKov3Q
— NHL (@NHL) March 19, 2021
Bastian, a 23-year-old forward who was a second-round pick in 2016, had three goals and seven assists last year for the Devils and has two years remaining on his contract.
“He’s just a big, energetic freak. I love this guy,” Salk said. “He’s a fourth-liner, just an energy guy … He’ll run around, he’ll hit you and provide some energy for you.”
Morosi thinks Bastian can become a fan favorite for the Kraken.
“He’ll play on the wing,” he said. “Certainly in many cases … the most beloved players are not always the top goal scorers and Bastian certainly has that in his game.”
• New York Islanders: Jordan Eberle, F
Both Salk and Morosi were thrilled to see the Kraken add Eberle, who is 31 years old and has 382 career points in the NHL.
“This was the No. 1 guy I wanted, Bob,” Salk told Stelton. “… He was the one player I was really hoping they’d come away with in this draft. He’s a guy who can put the puck in the net. A right winger on the first or second line. He can score, he’s experienced … He finds a way to score and I love that.”
“He’s had six seasons of 20 or more goals,” Morosi chimed in. “That is a pretty good track record of scoring and in the right system, which I think (Kraken head coach) Dave Hakstol is going to do a good job implementing that. I think he’s going to shine in this system.”
Full line effort on this one.
— NHL (@NHL) January 22, 2021
And the Kraken added another forward from the other New York team as well in the 28-year-old Blackwell.
“I think both (Blackwell and Eberle) are going to have really prominent roles on this team,” Morosi said. “… Colin Blackwell I think is going to be a very valuable player who can actually play center or wing for the Kraken.”
Sound UP 🔊
— NHL (@NHL) February 17, 2021
The youngest goalie the Kraken drafted, the 24-year-old Daccord was a seventh-round pick by Ottawa in 2015.
“He’s probably not someone who starts the year with the big club,” Salk said. “He’ll probably start the year in the minors because he’s got a two-way contract … He’s got quite a bit of upside and actually played well for Ottawa this year when given some opportunities.”
Twarynski is just 23 years old and was a third-round pick of the Flyers back in 2016.
“He’s a gritty guy with a little bit of size, but he’s probably a fourth-liner,” Salk said.
Update 11:28 a.m. July 22: Pitlick is being traded to Calgary for a 2022 fourth-round pick, according to Frank Seravalli of DailyFaceoff.com.
Pitlick scored six goals and made five assists in 38 appearances for the Coyotes in 2020-21. Multiple injuries were also part of his story last year. For more on Pitlick, read this story from our sister website, ArizonaSports.com.
• Pittsburgh Penguins: Brandon Tanev, F
Tanev is 29 years old and has played for both the Penguins and Jets. He is another player Morosi and Salk think could become a quick fan favorite for the Kraken.
“A strong left winger … He’s someone who has a lot of playoff experience both with the Jets and the Penguins,” Morosi said. “… He is someone who’s going to be beloved by Kraken fans.”
“He’s an energy guy, he will check, he has jam,” Salk said. “… He will probably lead the team in hits, hits taken, and blocked shots.”
BATTER UP ⚾
— NHL (@NHL) May 21, 2021
This is the one case of a homecoming in the Kraken’s expansion draft as True spent 2014-17 with the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Mercury News called True, 24, a “surprising pick” by the Kraken, and wrote that he could compete for a depth forward role with Seattle. The lefty shooter from Denmark has appeared in 19 career NHL games.
Dunn was yet another young defensemen the Kraken drafted on Wednesday. The 24-year-old Dunn was the Blues’ second-round pick in 2015 and is someone Morosi has high expectations for in 2021.
“Dunn is someone who I’ve always liked. And he’s a really good puck-moving defenseman who I think is going to be in the top four (defensemen on the Kraken),” Morosi said. “… I think Dunn has a chance to be a key guy on the power play for the Kraken here this season.”
• Tampa Bay Lightning: Yanni Gourde, C
Gourde is 29 years old and was a third-line center for the Lightning as they won the last two Stanley Cup Finals. Both Salk and Morosi think Gourde can shine with more playing time in Seattle than he received in Tampa Bay.
“He’s one of the guys we may know if you watched the Stanley Cup Final. He won his second of two straight Cups,” Salk said. “He played more of a third line defensive-type center spot for Tampa Bay, but I think he has a lot more scoring potential … This may end up being your No. 1 center and (being an alternate captain) … I would absolutely (say he’s a two-way center).”
“When you’re the fifth-leading scorer on a team that just won the cup and you can get that player in the expansion draft, that’s a huge win for the Kraken, in my opinion,” Morosi said. “Is he maybe going to play in a little higher role in Seattle? … Of course, but he can handle this job … He can score and defend as a center, which is a unique combination to have in the National Hockey League.”
— NHL (@NHL) June 26, 2021
After being traded from the Penguins to Toronto last weekend, McCann now finds himself in Seattle. Like many of the other forwards Seattle took, Salk and Morosi think McCann can be a versatile piece for the Kraken.
“He’s another versatile guy,” Salk said of the 25-year-old forward. “He can play center, he can play the wing, and again, he has the capability to be a two-way center. Maybe he’s your second-line center when all is said and done. Another controllable player who can do a lot of things for this team.”
Morosi thinks McCann is a real scoring threat.
“He is someone who’s shown the potential to be a 20-goal scorer,” he said. “And if you put him on the wing and give him good minutes … I think Jared McCann from Toronto was a very good pick.”
The Kraken’s choice from their new rivals just north of the border was another under-the-radar choice. Lind, 22, has just seven games experience in the NHL after making his debut in the league last season. Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre called Lind the best prospect made available by the Canucks in the expansion draft.
Vanecek is the third and final goalie the Kraken took. A 25-year-old former second-round pick, both Morosi and Salk think Vanecek could be valuable to this Kraken team.
“Vanecek was leaned on, has seen a lot of high-pressure, high-intensity games there for the Capitals,” Morosi said.
“He has a clear path to playing time and because he’s cheap, he could wind up being a trade candidate for them as well if there’s another team out there that needs cheaper goaltending,” Salk said.
• Winnipeg Jets: Mason Appleton, F
A 25-year-old right winger, Appleton had a bit of a breakout season with Winnipeg last year, scoring 25 points in 56 games plus three points in eight playoff contests. Appleton has a cap hit of just $900,000 with one year left on his contract.
Mason Appleton with the old steal and score combo.
You love to see it shorthanded. 😉 pic.twitter.com/LSTsefC7Du
— NHL (@NHL) January 9, 2020
710Sports.com’s Brent Stecker contributed to this post.