On Wednesday night, the Seattle Kraken conducted their expansion draft, selecting one unprotected player from each NHL franchise save for the Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights conducted their own expansion draft in 2016, so they were given an exemption by the league for the Seattle draft.
What we’ll do here is highlight who the Kraken chose from each club, but keep in mind there will be some side deals featured while some of the players selected tonight should be flipped elsewhere.
This event marks the first of three marquee events on the 2021 NHL calendar over the next week and change as we’ll get to the NHL Entry Draft on July 23 before the free agent frenzy launches on July 28.
With that in mind, let’s get to it and see who Seattle selected from the 30 clubs involved in the selection process.
Haydn Fleury (D)
Fleury, 25, was originally drafted seventh overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2014 from the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels. He spent parts of four seasons with the Hurricanes but was never able to fully break through into the regular rotation given the depth the ‘ Canes have boasted on the back end in recent seasons.
Carolina traded the Saskatchewan native to the Ducks at the 2021 trade deadline in exchange for fellow blueliner Jani Hakanpaa, but his time in Orange County was short lived. He played in just 12 games with the Ducks down the stretch, averaging 20:39 in ice time while picking up a pair of goals and three points.
This would certainly appear to be a high-upside play for the Kraken should he remain with the club.
Tyler Pitlick (RW)
A veteran of 286 career games between the Oilers, Stars, Flyers and Coyotes, the 29-year-old Pitlick is known more for his bottom-six checking role than his offensive ability.
He can provide some bottom-six offensive support as he notched six goals and 11 points this past season in the desert, but Pitlick has registered 47 goals and 84 points across those 286 regular-season contests. He’s appeared in 22 career postseason games as well, notching a pair of goals and three points in that time.
Pitlick carries a $1.75M cap hit with him to Seattle and is set to hit the open market following the 2021-22 campaign.
Jeremy Lauzon (D)
The Kraken had their choice between a couple of young defenders with some NHL experience from the Bruins in the form of Lauzon and Connor Clifton, but it appears Lauzon was Ron Francis’ pick of the litter.
At 24 years old, Lauzon has 76 career NHL games under his belt over the last three seasons, appearing in a career-high 41 games last season. He logged 18:43 of average ice time while collecting a goal and eight points in the regular season and also appeared in seven postseason games this spring — and 13 total in his career — going pointless while averaging 19:03 of average ice time.
While Lauzon’s offensive potential is to be determined, he’s more known for his work in his own end while contributing the physicality and penalty killing departments.
Lauzon carries an $850K cap hit with him to Seattle and is a restricted free agent at season’s end.
William Borgen (D)
While just 14 games into his NHL career, the 24-year-old Borgen should settle into a regular role on the Kraken blueline sooner than later.
The Sabres’ fourth-round pick in 2015, Borgen payed three years at St. Cloud Sate before playing the 2018-19 season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans before appearing in four games with the Sabres. He spent the entirety of the 2019-20 season in Rochester while spending the 2020-21 season on the Sabres’ taxi squad, appearing in 10 games at the NHL level.
A quality athlete with size, Borgen appears to have top-four upside as a defensively-sound blueliner and will require a contract as a restricted free agent at the moment.
Mark Giordano (D)
Perhaps the most popular name taken by the Kraken, Francis may have found his new captain the former Flames captain.
The 2o19 Norris Trophy winner brings a wealth of experience, leadership and stellar play to the Kraken blueline, even at the age of 37. The Toronto native has logged 949 career NHL games, collecting 143 goals and 509 points in that time. His 22:57 of average ice time this past season was his lowest mark since the 2009-10 campaign, but he still managed to chip in nine goals and 26 points across 56 games.
Giordano will be on the final year of a six-year contract that carries a $6.75M cap hit in 2021-22, but will be a valuable asset on what is shaping up to be a rather youthful Kraken roster, but the Flames’ social media team is not a fan of the selection.
Good morning to everyone except the @SeattleKraken.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) July 21, 2021
Morgan Geekie (C)
In the 2019-20 season, Geekie appeared in just two games with the ‘Canes as part of his NHL debut, but burst onto the scene with authority as he tallied three goals and four points in that time.
Geekie returns to the same state where he played his junior hockey with the Tri-City Americans after tallying three goals and nine points across 36 games at the NHL level last season while also recording four goals and five points in just two games with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.
Geekie was taken in the third round No. 67 overall by the Hurricanes in the 2017 NHL draft after a pair of big seasons with the Americans, but Geekie will shift to the west coast where he should be given an increased role down the middle for the Kraken.
Geekie carries a $750K cap hit for the 2021-22 season before returning to RFA status at season’s end.
John Quenneville (LW, C)
After being taken with the 30th overall pick by the New Jersey Devils in the 2014 NHL draft, Quenneville has had a tough time becoming an NHL regular.
He’s appeared in just 42 games in parts of four NHL seasons between the Devils and Blackhawks, recording two goals and five points in that time. His 2020-21 season was especially disappointing as he managed just one goal and two points in 16 AHL contests with the Rockford IceHogs and has just one goal for his lone point after his last 30 NHL games through his last three stints in the NHL.
Quenneville is a Group 6 unrestricted free agent at the moment, so we’ll see if he sticks around in Seattle for the 2021-22 season.
Joonas Donskoi (RW)
After beginning his career with the San Jose Sharks, Donskoi seemed to hit another stride after signing with the Avalanche prior to the 2019-20 season.
He was a solid third-line scorer in his time with the Sharks, reaching double-digits in goals in three of his first four NHL seasons, but notched a career-high 16 in his first season in Colorado in the 2019-20 campaign across 65 contests. He picked up the pace to 17 goals this past season which was a career-high, but keep in mind he also did so in just 51 games.
We’ll see how things shake out, but it’s possible Donskoi finds himself in a top-six role with his new club. He brings a reasonable cap hit at $3.9M for each of the next two seasons before potentially hitting the open market following the 2021-22 season.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Gavin Bayreuther (D)
It looked like Max Domi would be the selection from the Blue Jackets, but Francis and his staff opted for 27-year-old defenseman Gavin Bayreuther.
Undrafted out of St. Lawrence University, Bayreuther has appeared in just 28 games at the NHL level between the Dallas Stars and Blue Jackets, most recently skating in nine games this past season. He’s notched three goals and six points across those 28 games with one goal in nine games this past season.
He’s been a solid offensive contributor at the AHL level, tallying three goals and 12 points across 14 games with the Cleveland Monsters last season and six goals and 29 points across 59 games with the Texas Stars in the 2019-20 campaign.
Bayreuther is an unrestricted free agent, however, so whether he sticks around in Seattle remains to be seen.
Jamie Oleksiak (D)
The defensemen keep rolling in, only Oleksiak is here to stay for a while.
The Kraken drafted the hulking 6-foot-7, 255-pound Oleksiak from the Stars, but according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman the club has signed him to a five-year deal with roughly $4.6M annually.
Jamie Oleksiak & SEA is five years, approx $4.6M
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 21, 2021
Originally selected 14th overall by the Stars in the 2011 draft, Oleksiak was traded to the Penguins at the 2018 trade deadline. After finishing the year in Pittsburgh and beginning the next season with the Penguins, he was traded back to Dallas where he would play another two and half seasons.
Known more for his big body and physical presence than his offensive capability, Oleksiak tallied six goals and 14 points across 56 games last season and has 24 goals and 72 points across 369 career NHL contests. He logged a career-high 20:29 of average ice time per game last season with Dallas.
Clearly, the Kraken believe Oleksiak, 28, is a key long-term piece to the club’s blueline.
Detroit Red Wings
Dennis Cholowski (D)
Yet another defenseman taken by the Kraken, Cholowski brings some offensive upside to the table.
Taken in the first round, 20th overall by the Red Wings in the 2016 draft, Cholowski has yet to carve out a full-time NHL role to this point, but he’s still just 23 years old. As a rookie in the 2018-19 season, the British Columbia native notched seven goals and 16 points in 52 games, but has largely failed to build on that quality output since. He tallied three goals and 10 points with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins across 13 games last season, but managed just one goal and three points in 16 NHL contests.
After his entry-level contract expired following the 2020-21 season, Cholowski heads to Seattle as an RFA in need of a deal before next season.
Adam Larsson (D)
Like Oleksiak, Larsson is set to become a big part of the Seattle blueline for the foreseeable future.
They selected him coming off a career year from Edmonton, and Larsson has reportedly inked a four-year, $16M deal with Seattle that carries an average annual cap hit of $4M.
Further to Frank's reporting, Adam Larsson has a four-year deal with #SeaKraken — hearing it'll be a $4M AAV.
Seattle locked him during its exclusive UFA/RFA interview period. https://t.co/7HAV5aVD3C
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 21, 2021
Larsson is well-known for being sent to Edmonton from New Jersey in a straight-up trade for Taylor Hall, a trade many believe the Devils won by a significant margin considering Hall won a Hart Trophy during his time with the Devils.
That said, the 28-year-old is a defensive blueliner by trade and enjoyed a career-year in 2020-21 in terms of that defensive work. He recorded career-best possession metrics and posted a career-high 166 hits, 10th-most in the NHL. He also blocked 128 shots, second-most in the NHL behind Vegas’ Alec Martinez (168).
Larsson will be a top-four defender for the Kraken while perhaps leading the team in penalty-killing ice time.
Chris Driedger (G)
Perhaps the most important draftee, Driedger is likely to take over the starting goaltender role in Seattle after bursting onto the scene with the Panthers over the last couple of seasons.
Like Oleksiak and Larsson, Driedger has been signed by the Kraken as he has reportedly signed a three-year deal worth $3.5M annually with the NHL’s newest franchise.
As we await what SEA decides with Carey Price, word is that the Kraken are closing in on FLA’s Chris Driedger at 3x$3.5M. I dont believe that precludes them from selecting Price, but one goalie appears locked-in.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 19, 2021
Despite Sergei Bobrovsky signing a lucrative seven-year deal with the Panthers, Driedger began eating his lunch a little bit as he turned in a 2.05 GAA and .938 Sv% in 12 games in the 2019-20 season before working to a stout 2.07 GAA and .927 Sv% across 23 appearances this past season.
At 27, Driedger could be the backbone for this franchise moving forward.
Los Angeles Kings
Kurtis MacDermid (D)
Like Oleksiak, MacDermid brings a whole lot of size to the Kraken blueline as the 27-year-old stands at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds. He’s played in parts of four seasons with the Kings, but played exclusively at the NHL level over the last two seasons.
In 118 career NHL games, the Ontario native has tallied six goals and 17 points, but has also recorded 151 penalty minutes and is regarded as one of the toughest players in the NHL.
MacDermid is the final season of a two-year contract that carries an $875M cap hit before potentially hitting unrestricted free agency at season’s end.
Carson Soucy (D)
The Wild will have new-look blueline next season after buying out Ryan Suter and seeing the Kraken select Soucy, another big-bodied blueliner Seattle should feature in their top-six next season.
The Wild signed Soucy to a three-year, $8.25M contract prior to last season, but it looks like the 26-year-old will play out that contract in Seattle.
Despite logging just 15:17 of average ice time and zero power play ice time, Soucy tallied 17 points in 50 games last season, albeit with just one goal. The 6-foot-5 Alberta native contributed seven goals and 14 points across 55 games in the 2019-20 season.
The University of Minnesota-Duluth product was a fifth-round pick of the Wild, but one that looks like he will be an NHL regular on the west coast moving forward.
Cale Fleury (D)
In one of the cooler storylines of the draft, the Kraken will also feature the younger brother of Haydn in Cale Fleury, a third-round pick of the Canadiens in 2017.
The younger Fleury spent the 2020-21 season with the AHL’s Laval Rocket, notching six assists in 22 games. Known for his defensive work, Fleury never produced gaudy offensive numbers in junior coming up in the WHL between the Kootenay Ice and Regina Pats, but did tally a healthy 23 points in 2018-19 with the Rocket in his first professional season.
He has 41 games of NHL experience under his belt, all of which came in the 2019-20 season while he registered one goal, six penalty minutes and minus-four rating in that time.
He’s certainly close to NHL-ready, but he’ll be in a battle for a top-six spot with the Kraken given the plethora of defensemen selected Wednesday night.
Calle Jarnkrok (LW, C, RW)
Perhaps looking to shed some salary, the Predators left a pair of centers unprotected in Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene, both of whom struggled mightily last season.
Instead, the Kraken went with Jarnkrok who was the best player of the three last season and comes with just a $2M cap hit for the 2021-22 season before potentially hitting unrestricted free agency following the season.
The Preds got nice value out of the six-year, $12M deal they signed Jarnkrok to prior to the 2016-17 season as he scored at least 15 goals in four of those five seasons and was certainly on pace for a career-high with 13 this season across 49 games, but even his shortened season was cut even shorter due to injuries.
Jarnkrok is a jack-of-all-trades type player that can play anywhere up and down your lineup at any of the the three forward positions and could become a fan favorite in short order out west.
New Jersey Devils
Nathan Bastian (RW, C)
A second-round pick of the Devils in 2016, Nathan Bastian found a new full-time role in the bottom-six with the Devils last season, appearing in 41 games with three goals and 10 points in that time.
The Ontario native has previously played in seven games with the big club in the 2018-19 season, notching three goals in that time.
Whether he can produce enough to stay in the NHL remains to be seen. He collected 16 goals and 38 points in 62 games with the AHL’s Binghamton Devils in the 2019-20 season, but at just 23 there is plenty of time to develop at the highest level.
New York Islanders
Jordan Eberle (RW)
Along with Giordano, Eberle will be the immediate face of the Kraken franchise as he brings plenty of experience and production to a Seattle roster that lacks just that.
Both he and Josh Bailey were left unprotected by Lou Lamoriello, but Seattle went with Eberle who has three years remaining on his deal with a $5.5M cap hit.
He’ll certainly be one of, if not the team’s most reliable producer up front as he’s coming off a 16-goal, 33-point season in 55 games this past season. He’s scored at least 16 goals in each of his 11 NHL seasons, but was on pace for 24 last season if it were a full, 82-game season.
At 31, there’s no reason to believe Eberle should be in for notable regression at least throughout the remainder of his contract while with the Kraken.
New York Rangers
Colin Blackwell (RW)
Speaking of potential fan favorites in Seattle, Blackwell could throw his name into that hat as he comes into his own at the NHL level.
He’s 28 with just 80 games of NHL experience under his belt, but Blackwell played parts of last season in the Rangers’ top six on a line with Artemi Panarin and did not look out of place. He registered 12 goals and 22 points in 47 games on the heels of a 2019-20 season in which he notched 10 points in 27 games in a bottom-six role.
He’s likely to find a top-nine role with his new club, but is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency after the season following his $725K cap hit for the 2021-22 campaign.
Joey Daccord (G)
A star at Arizona State University in his final season, Daccord is a high-upside play for the Kraken between the pipes at just 24 years of age.
He appeared in eight games with the Senators this past season, posting a 3.27 GAA and .897 Sv% before getting hurt. While we’ll see how this Kraken team performs defensively soon enough, the Sens were one of the worst defensive teams in hockey last season while allowing high-danger scoring chances with the worst of em’, so I’d take those numbers with a grain of salt.
Perhaps more telling is his 2.61 GAA and .915 Sv% across 24 AHL games in the 2019-20 season — his largest sample size as a professional.
He could start the season in the AHL, but the 24-year-old is a low-risk, high-upside play for Francis and co.
Carsen Twarynski (LW)
Perhaps the most surprising selection the Kraken made Wednesday was Twarynski. Many had penciled James van Riemsdyk as the selection from the Flyers, but Francis’ firm stance on leaving plenty of cap space available apparently ruled out the veteran left winger.
Rather, he went with Twarynski, a 2016 third-rounder with 22 NHL games under his belt. The Calgary Hitmen and Kelowna Rockets product has just one goal for his lone NHL points in that time and recorded zero points in his seven NHL contests this season while being held off the scoresheet in two AHL games as well.
As an RFA at the moment, Twarynski will need a contract from the Kraken if he’s to hang around, but this was certainly one of, if not the most surprising selection from the Kraken tonight.
Brandon Tanev (LW)
Soon to be a popular man in Seattle, Tanev comes to the Kraken on an affordable $3.5M annual cap hit and will presumably do so for the next four seasons through the 2024-25 season.
A dog on a bone, Tanev hits everything that enters his path and plenty of things that don’t as well. He recorded 139 hits last season, tying him for 20th in the league in that department but also tied for 12th among forwards.
He’s also capable offensively as he tallied seven goals and 16 points in 32 games before and notched one goal across six postseason contests.
He’ll be a key contributor to the Kraken’s penalty kill as well as a firm role in the teams’ top nine as he gets set to become a fan favorite for his third NHL franchise.
San Jose Sharks
Alexander True (RW, C)
Undrafted from the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, True returns to the place where it all began as he looks to find a role in the Kraken organization.
True has just 19 career NHL games under his belt, going goalless with five helpers in that time. He split last season between the Sharks and AHL’s San Jose Barracuda, recording nine goals and 20 points in 27 AHL contests but was held to a single assist in seven games with the parent club.
He’s been a solid, yet unspectacular producer in the minors with 90 points over his last 135 AHL contests, but at 24, isn’t exactly regarded as an NHL-ready prospect.
An arbitration-eligible RFA, True is currently without a contract for the 2021-22 season.
St. Louis Blues
Vince Dunn (D)
After seeing his name swirling through the rumor mill this past season, Dunn has finally found himself a new home and a change of scenery via the expansion draft.
This is certainly a high-upside pick here for the Kraken. Dunn is a proven offensive producer in this league, most recently recording six goals and 20 points across 43 games this season with the Blues despite logging just 19:15 of average ice time, although that is a career-high figure.
In 267 career games, Dunn has 32 goals and 102 points, notching a career-high 12 goals and 35 points in the 2018-19 season.
Still just 24 years old, look for Dunn to quarterback the Kraken’s top power play unit, but he’ll need a contract first as an arbitration-eligible RFA.
Yanni Gourde (C)
Likely the club’s first-line center next season, Gourde brings a healthy back-to-back Stanley Cup champion resume to his new team.
The good news is that he comes with team control for four more seasons at a $5.17M cap hit in what could become a bargain for the team moving forward.
Now 29, Gourde broke out with a 25-goal, 64-point season as a rookie in the 2017-18 season and while he hasn’t been able to repeat that success, he’s coming off a 17-goal, 36-point season across 56 games while averaging a healthy 17:04 of ice time per game.
However, with a first-line role and top power play unit ice time, Gourde could be a breakout candidate once again and is a solid bet to lead the team in scoring next season as a result.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Jared McCann (C)
After being traded from the Penguins to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, Jared McCann is on to his third franchise in the last five days, and now fifth overall.
The 25-year-old was taken in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Vancouver Canucks, but has since moved to Florida, Pittsburgh and now to Seattle. He played third fiddle to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin down the center ice depth chart last season with the Pens, but turned in a real nice 14 goals and 32 points across 42 games.
In 353 career NHL contests, McCann has notched 66 goals and 155 points, but has now recorded 67 points over his last 109 games, good for a healthy 0.61 points per game.
He has one year and $2.94M left on his deal for the 2021-22 season before becoming an arbitration eligible RFA at season’s end.
Kole Lind (RW)
An emerging prospect within the Canucks’ system, Lind will remain on the west coast, only this time south of the border with Seattle.
A second-round pick in 2017 and No. 33 overall, Lind tallied 44 points in 61 AHL games in the 2019-20 season at the age of 20. This past season, Lind notched five goals and eight points in the AHL while being held pointless in seven NHL contests.
With 95 points in just 58 games in his final season of junior with the Kelowna Rockets, so there’s clearly plenty of offensive upside here. He’ll need a contract as an RFA, but Lind could find himself on the map sooner than later with roles available up front in Seattle.
Vitek Vanecek (G)
Likely to slide in between Driedger and Daccord on the Kraken goaltending chart, Vanecek will still find himself with plenty of NHL work next season.
With Henrik Lundqvist ruled out of the season with a heart condition and Ilya Samsonov dealing with league protocols, Vanecek was able to keep the Capitals afloat with some stellar play between the pipes early in the season.
While his productivity tailed off as the season moved along, he still turned in a 2.69 GAA and .908 Sv% across 37 appearance as a 25-year-old rookie. He’s a little bit of a late bloomer after being drafted 39th overall in 2014, but also worked to a 2.26 GAA and .917 Sv% in 31 AHL games with the Hershey Bears in the 2019-20 season, so he’s turned in quality work of late.
He could provide some notable value with a $716,667 cap hit in 2021-22 before becoming an arb-eligible RFA after the season.
Mason Appleton (RW, C)
A staple in the Kraken lineup this season will be Appleton coming off an impressive campaign that was largely spent in the Jets’ bottom six.
Appleton tallied 12 goals and 25 points in 56 games on the heels of just eight points in 46 games the season prior. He logged 14:25 of average ice time per game but could certainly see an increase in that figure this season in Seattle.
It’s certainly an underdog story. Appleton is a sixth-round pick, No. 168 overall by the Jets in the 2015 draft, and at 25 he’s just getting his young career started.
Appleton could become an extremely valuable member of this Kraken roster, especially at just $900K this season before hitting restricted free agency with arbitration rights at the end of the season.