After 2017, NHL teams were quite embarrassed by how much treasure the Vegas Golden Knights were able to run away with, all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. They had given the Knights young, legitimate top six players in order to protect fourth and fifth defensemen as teams were also desperate to lift cap hits from their books. Once they realized the deals they could make, the Knights pushed hard into competitive mode. They acquired Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Robin Lehner, and most recently Alex Pietrangelo to help build on the competitive window they were gifted.

Vegas Golden Knights Team Roster - Cap Friendly
Seattle Kraken Team Roster - Cap Friendly

After this happened, NHL GMs said never again and basically balked at any compensation offers the Seattle Kraken were offering in order to take on talented players with big cap hits. As a result, the Kraken swung the other way from the Golden Knights and focused on bringing in a competent group of players to make the team respectable in their first season, but not splurging on any big cap hits, and especially shying away from term. No Vladimir Tarasenko, no James van Riemsdyk, no Mitch Marner (I kid).

Instead, the Kraken went after young, cheap, uninspiring players with possible upside, like Geekie, Appleton, Bastian, and the Fleury brothers. However, you can’t convince me Gavin Bayreuther, John Quenneville, Colin Blackwell, and Carsen Twarynski are worthwhile names. I don’t even know who most of those names are and I’m a hockey blogger who’s addicted to CapFriendly.

The choices Seattle made yesterday tell me two major things for how this team is going to move forward.

  1. They are going to be acquiring cap dumps for sweeteners. This is easier to do now that teams can’t get out from big contracts for free using Expansion and there is a squeeze as offseason cap space gets used up and opening night is that much closer.
  2. The Seattle Kraken are tanking for top prospects in 2022 and 2023.

Point one is pretty self-explanatory, bad teams do it all the time when they can afford to take on dead money with all $28 million in cap space they still have. However part two is worth getting into for a bit.

The 2022 and 2023 NHL Drafts are insane. Headlined by Shane Wright in 2022, and followed by Connor Bedard and Matvei Michkov in 2023, this is a trio of hockey players akin to the Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel phenom class of 2015 and 2016. Going after one or more of these prospects was the only high-value move for the Kraken after realizing they weren’t going to be competitive right away.

Coming back to 2021 for a second, the Kraken have the second overall pick on Friday and they’re expected to take centre Matthew Beniers, who would be an excellent two-way, high octane, smart, reliable 2C on a good team, akin to Bo Horvat. He would sit really nicely behind Shane Wright.

I was disappointed the Kraken didn’t acquire any picks on Wednesday because they really need to start working on that stockpile, but hopefully as the Draft approaches those moves will start to appear for them. Maybe they can get Filip Hallander from Pittsburgh for Matheson’s contract and the Leafs can get him back for Kerfoot. That would be fun.

SparkNotes of the Expansion Draft yesterday:

  • All the Expansion Draft picks were leaked throughout the morning and afternoon after Seattle handed over their picks to the NHL. This basically made the Expansion Draft reveal show useless as none of the picks were a surprise.
  • Within the selections, the Kraken signed two pending UFAs contracts: Adam Larsson from Edmonton and Jamie Oleksiak from Dallas. Larsson got $4M for four years, and Oleksiak got $4.6M over five years.
  • On top of that, the Kraken did not make any compensation trades with teams, so not only did they leave a lot of talent on the table, but they didn’t get paid for doing so either (seriously they drafted an ECHLer!). Fans were notably upset online after waiting an hour and a half to see nothing new.
  • The story from Ron Francis is that cap space is incredibly valuable and he’s choosing to use it smartly, as well as the 30 teams weren’t willing to look like idiots the way Vegas did in 2017. No one wanted the Dale Tallon egg on their faces.
  • Furthermore, the Kraken are expected to make non-draft related trades today once the trade freeze ends. There are varying reports of how juicy they are, from some saying keep an eye out for some big moves, while others are saying it’s probably going to be underwhelming. Maybe the Kraken are getting Kerfoot for free too?
  • Jordan Eberle checked in at his Seattle hotel under a fake name.
  • The ESPN broadcasters did the most NHL thing and called the Canes the Carolina Panthers when announcing Morgan Geekie. This led to the NFL and NHL teams in Carolina to swap brands on Twitter for the evening.
  • The Kraken drafted brothers Haydn and Cale Fleury from Anaheim and Montreal. The ESPN broadcasters claimed this was the first time in NHL history a brotherly duo was on the same team. I’ll let you figure out why that’s so embarrassing for them. Hint: travel a little north of Seattle.
  • During the transaction freeze, some contract extensions were reported around the NHL. Taylor Hall is staying in Boston at $6M for four years. Mike Smith is back in Edmonton at $2M over two years (that’s AAV). Tyson Barrie looks to be getting something in the $5M over four years range in Edmonton. And Zach Hyman met with the Oilers in Edmonton to discuss a contract that could hit $6M for as long as eight years (triggering a sign-and-trade with the Leafs). Basically, have yourself a day Oilers fans. /

I smell an alternate jersey.

Various Leafs and Branches

Seattle selects Jared McCann from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Expansion Draft | by: Katya

Toronto’s 2021 preseason is a North and Atlantic Division reunion | by: Katya

2021 NHL Draft Profiles: The Goalies | by: Brigstew

I can now exclusively reveal the three prospects Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs intend on drafting on Saturday. They are Jacob Holmes, Robert Calisti, and Marc Boudreau. Their Draft Profiles are already prepped and ready.

And lastly, the CHL has signed with TSN and CBC to broadcast games in a new multi-year contract. It’s about time, Sportsnet wasn’t doing jack with the rights they had.