In just a few short days, the Seattle Kraken - the NHL’s newest expansion team - will build their roster through the expansion draft. The Kraken will select a player from 30 teams (the Vegas Golden Knights are exempt) and general manager Ron Francis & his colleagues will extrapolate from there ahead of the upcoming season.
There were a few surprises in players left unprotected by their respective teams, but for the most part, those available for the Kraken’s taking are who was expected. With that said, there are a handful of big-name players in the mix, but building a new team is a balancing act of signings, free agents, trades and of course — the salary cap.
I’ll be honest: my first crack at an expansion draft was rough. I was careless; I didn’t really bother to consider salaries, or how long contracts were. My first roster was over $15 million over the maximum cap hit of $81.5 million! I also had a roster filled with way too many players who are set to become UFAs. With some tweaks, I was able to get my financials in order and swapped out some pending free agents for those with slightly longer contracts for a bit more stability and leverage in trades that could be executed.
Here’s what I came up with:
It’s not an absolutely perfect roster, but for the most part, I’m pretty happy with this one.
While there may be some uncertainty about Carey Price’s health - is he hurt? Is it a knee injury? A hip injury? - I think he’s the kind of piece that you simply cannot ignore. Exposing him in the draft is a risk from the Canadiens, and it’s just too tempting to not take him. Jonathan Quick is my other big-name goaltender. If Price is hurt & has to miss a sizeable amount of time, Quick is a great fit to step into that top role. I’ve rounded out my netminders with Malcolm Subban, who would be a fine back-up in the NHL or a top AHL goaltender.
I feel similarly about P.K. Subban as I do about Price. How can you not take him? Sure, his $9 million price tag is hefty but he’d certainly be a great face of the franchise. Add in other powerhouse D like Jake Gardiner, Erik Johnson and Kevin Shattenkirk, and supplement your blueline with younger pieces like Will Borgen and Darren Raddysh.
Up front, there are so many pieces available, but I started with Pittsburgh’s Jason Zucker. He’s your highest-paid forward on this roster but a good building block. Add in pieces like Conor Sheary, Blake Comeau and Noel Acciari, plus two-time Stanley Cup champion Mathieu Joseph. Fill out the roster with others like Ondrej Kase, Nick Bjugstad and Richard Panik.
Of course, just because the Kraken select players on Wednesday night doesn’t mean they’ll be suiting up for Seattle when the season starts. Francis can certainly take some of his pieces and swap them in trades, and will want to give himself enough flexibility to do so with some of the other players selected.
What does your expansion draft look like? I put my roster together using CapFriendly’s nifty simulator. Here’s a look at my roster with salary cap & signings info:
I, for one, can’t wait to see what Seattle does - in this week’s expansion draft, in the NHL draft, in the months ahead & of course in their inaugural season. The team’s selections have to be submitted to the league by 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday. They’ll be revealed Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN2 and SN.