Kraken draft an underwhelming roster

The Seattle Kraken drafted its inaugural roster, but many questions were left unanswered by the selections.

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What’s Happening: On Wednesday, the Seattle Kraken drafted its inaugural roster. But before they did, word started leaking out tweet by tweet about who the Kraken would be taking from each team. On the surface, the selections seemed a bit puzzling, as it appeared they left plenty of value on the table with notable players such as Carey Price, James Van Riemsdyk, Gabriel Landeskog, and Vladimir Tarasenko left undrafted.

Having known the selections some 6-7 hours before the actual draft and seeing the rather peculiar picks, many people were left wondering what kind of wheeling and dealing GM Ron Francis had up his sleeve. After all, in 2017, GM of then expansion team Vegas Golden Knights, George McPhee, was able to exploit NHL teams by not selecting certain unprotected players in exchange for a stockpile of draft picks and players. However, as GM Ron Francis said, many teams had learned from their mistakes in the last expansion draft and weren’t willing to overpay to protect their players. When asked why no “side deals” were announced by the Kraken on draft night, he responded by saying, “The last time, GMs were more willing to overpay to protect certain assets. This time they learned from that, and they weren’t willing to make mistakes that they made last time.”

Top Picks: Despite a number of questionable picks, the Kraken were able to land some key players. Among them was former Calgary Flames captain, Mark Giordano, who will help anchor the blueline for the Kraken. It remains to be seen if he will be named the inaugural Kraken captain, but he would be a solid bet.

Up front, the Kraken selected Jordan Eberle from the Islanders and Jared McCann from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Eberle is more of a known commodity and has a more extended resume of consistent scoring whereas McCann really came into his own last season with the Penguins where he was a powerplay-scoring machine.

In net, while the Kraken didn’t take a chance on Price, they ended up going with a tremendously solid pick in Chris Driedger. In an earlier newsletter, we outlined that Driedger was an expansion pick candidate for the Kraken after a stellar season last year where he filled in admirably for Sergei Bobrovsky when he was injured and struggling for much of the year. 

What’s Next: The most glaring elephant in the room is this: what do the Kraken do with all this cap space? They clearly have something up their sleeve here as they currently have $28 million of cap space available. If no side deals were made on expansion day, that doesn’t necessarily rule out the Kraken from taking on a host of bad contracts in exchange for a hoard of draft picks.

Another route — and one that may be more likely — is the Kraken going shopping on the UFA market when free agents become available to all NHL teams. While the Kraken couldn’t come to terms with Gabriel Landeskog ahead of the expansion draft, that doesn’t necessarily exclude them from being able to work out a contract with him. So, while the draft was a bit of a head-scratching start, we’re betting that the Kraken are playing their cards very close to their chest and it’s only a matter of time before their hand is revealed.

Weigh In: Who do you think was the Kraken’s best pick in the expansion draft?

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Links from the Rink

  • Find out the full list of the Kraken’s picks from each team in the NHL.

  • At 6’7” and 255 lbs, Jamie Oleksiak instantly becomes the Kraken’s largest player and newest free agent signing. Read about the terms.

  • Check out some of the more notable reactions among NHL fans at the Kraken’s picks.

  • Can this Kraken group ‘win together?’ That was the overriding strategy with selecting the players they chose in the draft.

  • With the Kraken signing and selecting pending UFA Adam Larsson, where does that hole on the back end leave the Oilers?