“RELEASE THE KRAKEN!”
Or rather, “Release Frank Seravalli!” The noted NHL Insider and President of the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers Association) took social media by storm and came out swinging with breaking news mere moments after the 10am(EST) deadline for Seattle to submit its list of picks to NHL Central Registry.
In fact, by the time 1pm(EST) rolled around, Seravalli and his fellow NHL Insiders (Chris Johnston, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun, John Shannon and Elliotte Friedman) had leaked 28 of Seattle’s 30 picks to the world of Twitter; much to the chagrin of ESPN’s Executives, who could not have been happy that their network’s return to NHL coverage was spoiled hours before the official Expansion Draft broadcast was set to air.
The 8pm(EST) ESPN2 broadcast was scheduled to be ESPN’s first NHL telecast since regaining the league’s media rights several months ago, but it was essentially rendered moot by Seravalli and Co. The only two selections to not be leaked were who Seattle chose from Chicago and Detroit.
(NOTE: The leaks regarding Chicago and Detroit came in around 6pm(EST)).
However, that’s besides the point. The actual point is that the NHL’s 32nd franchise officially has its first roster of players. Now, not all of these players will make it to Opening Night in a couple months, but it is a significant milestone for the new hockey team.
So, who did the Kraken select? For ease, let’s go in alphabetical order by team location. (Remember, Vegas is exempt from the Expansion Draft).
Anaheim: Haydn Fleury (defense)
Arizona: Tyler Pitlick (right-wing)
Boston: Jeremy Lauzon (defense)
Buffalo: William Borgen (defense)
Calgary: Mark Giordano (defense)
Carolina: Morgan Geekie (center)
Chicago: John Quenneville (left-wing)
Colorado: Joonas Donskoi (right-wing)
Columbus: Gavin Bayreuther (defense)
Dallas: Jamie Oleksiak (defense)
Detroit: Dennis Cholowski (defense)
Edmonton: Adam Larsson (defense)
Florida: Chris Driedger (goalie)
Los Angeles: Kurtis MacDermid (defense)
Minnesota: Carson Soucy (defense)
Montreal: Cale Fleury (defense)
Nashville: Calle Jarnkrok (left-wing)
New Jersey: Nathan Bastian (right-wing)
New York (Islanders): Jordan Eberle (right-wing)
New York (Rangers): Colin Blackwell (center)
Ottawa: Joey Daccord (goalie)
Philadelphia: Carsen Twarynski (left-wing)
Pittsburgh: Brandon Tanev (right-wing)
San Jose: Alex True (center)
St. Louis: Vince Dunn (defense)
Tampa Bay: Yanni Gourde (center)
Toronto: Jared McCann (left-wing)
Vancouver: Kole Lind (right-wing)
Washington: Vitek Vanecek (goalie)
Winnipeg: Mason Appleton (right-wing)
There were a few surprises among those selections, some of which were because many prognosticators figured Seattle would want to select a few of the big names who were left unprotected. Gabriel Landeskog, Carey Price and Vladimir Tarasenko were among the players who many figured to be part of the Kraken’s inaugural roster.
On the Landeskog front, Seattle GM Ron Francis did converse with Colorado’s Captain and pending UFA, but came away from the conversation not in love with the type of contract Landeskog is seeking. Price’s gamble to have Montreal leave him exposed in order to protect Jake Allen paid off as Seattle chose not to go all-in on Price’s iffy lower-body health and massive contract. And as for Tarasenko, Francis preferred to pry the young defenseman, Vince Dunn, from the Blues to bolster his blue line.
Of course, there were several side-deal trades made between Francis and his fellow General Managers to ensure certain players were either selected or left alone. While we are still awaiting confirmation on what the exact details of those deals are, we do know they were impactful.
In terms of the Islanders and Rangers, Jordan Eberle was left exposed because Lou Lamoriello wanted to clear more cap space and he got his wish when Eberle’s $5.5M cap hit was taken on by Seattle. Meanwhile, the Rangers lost Colin Blackwell in a calculated move as Chris Drury was able to hold onto Kevin Rooney and others as he navigates his first NHL Off-season as a Team President/GM.
Overall, the Seattle Kraken chose, smartly, not to use most of their available cap space, which gives the franchise plenty of leeway in the future to make deals and sign players. As their roster stands right now, the strength is clearly on defense as Francis loaded up with talent on the backend.
There is some intrigue regarding the young talent in goal, which could play out any number of ways. But upfront is clearly the weakness of this team. Could the Kraken surprise people and actually be a fairly competent offensive club? Sure. But at the moment that’s the area that needs to be addressed.
Perhaps it will be addressed as soon as Friday night when the Kraken have the second overall selection in the NHL’s Annual Entry Draft. Stay tuned to find out as the Kraken submerges itself in the water once more while waiting to strike its next target.