Who will the Kraken pluck from this year’s final four teams?

Parity could strike again as good teams lose good players

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Which players will the Lightning, Islanders, Canadiens and Golden Knights lose?

Expansion Nuts and Bolts: The deadline to submit each team’s expansion draft protection list has come and gone. We now know who each of the 30 teams (not Vegas) has protected for the upcoming expansion draft on July 21. In welcoming the Seattle Kraken to the NHL fraternity, each team not named the Golden Knights will donate a roster player to their new West Coast partner. 

Teams are permitted to protect seven forwards and three defensemen or eight skaters total, in addition to one goaltender. There’s plenty of other subtle details, too, if you’re interested.

Final Four

Good teams generally lose good players in expansion drafts. Let’s dive into how this season’s last teams standing may be affected. We’ve added the most likely Kraken Candidates and their contract status. Each team name is hyper-linked with their CapFriendly page with even more information. 

Montreal Canadiens:

News of Shea Weber’s potentially career-threatening injuries makes their decision a lot easier. Leaving Weber exposed means GM Marc Bergevin can protect both Ben Chiarot and Joel Edmundson on the back end instead of choosing one. 

Big news over the weekend was of Carey Price waiving his NMC to be exposed, which allows the team to protect Jake Allen. Do the Kraken dare call Montreal’s bluff here? Kraken Candidates:

1. Carey Price (!): Five years left at $10.5 million

2. Jonathan Drouin:  Two years left at $5.5 million

New York Islanders:

There’s no avoiding dilution for the Islanders. They are in a crunch financially and are trying to lock up their RFAs and UFAs. 

Former Kraken Candidate Nick Leddy was traded to Detroit over the weekend. Also in a surprise move, the Islanders protected two-thirds of its famed third line: Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. The third, Casey Cizikas is a UFA. 

Kraken Candidates:

1. Josh Bailey: 3 years left at $5 million

2. Jordan Eberle: 3 years left at $5.5 million

Tampa Bay Lightning:

The dismantling of the champs begins now. Whether they go 8-1 or 7-3-1, they’re going to lose someone of significance here. Side deals are always an option, but draft capital is not in Tampa’s favor here. 

We know who Tampa wants the Kraken to take (Tyler Johnson — three more years at $5 million per) but enticing the Kraken to do that will be expensive. More realistically, depending on which protection structure GM Julien BriseBois goes with, the Kraken Candidates include:

1. Alex Killorn: two more years at $4.45 million

2. Mathieu Joseph: RFA after next season

3. Ross Colton: RFA

4. Ondrej Pilat: one year at $5.3 million

5. Yanni Gourde: four more years at $5.16 million

Vegas Golden Knights:

Nobody. One of the terms negotiated by owner Bill Foley upon coming into the league was that the Golden Knights would be exempt from the next expansion draft. That also means Foley misses out on his share of the $650 million expansion fee. 

Bottom Line: Much of the discussion has rightly been on who teams will lose, but soon we’ll start dissecting who the Kraken are gaining. On July 22, the dissection will begin and the natural comparisons to Vegas’ inaugural season will be front and center. 

Weigh In: If you were Seattle GM Ron Francis, who would you choose from the Islanders, Canadiens and Lightning? 

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