Nothing is typical about 2021. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup on July 7th. The redemption window opened on July 8. The protective rosters for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft were due to take place this weekend. Wednesday we will have the extension draft, and the entry draft is Friday and Saturday. Then on July 28, free agency begins.
“The craziest three weeks I can remember from my time in the league,” a front office executive told me last week. He has nearly two decades of experience.
I have been working on the phones for the last few days to find out what to expect for the coming week and beyond.
Does Kraken sharpen a Guardian?
The Kraken will need at least two goalies, and it looks like they picked one: Chris Driedger of the Florida Panthers. In fact, it is said that Driedger should sign a contract for several years after being selected among the Panthers; I heard it was in the three year range.
There are some great young and budget-conscious options for Seattle if Driedger is the 1A goalie. I texted an NHL goalie coach on Sunday to find out who he would pick as Driedger’s replacement. His answer: Kaapo Kahkonen of the Minnesota Wild or Vitek Vanecek of the Washington Capitals.
Let’s make a deal
The Kraken haven’t reached out much, but behind the scenes they’ve been playing hard the last few weeks from what I’ve heard. If a team wanted assurance that one of their unprotected players would not be selected, the price Seattle initially asked was a first-round pick as a compensation, at a minimum. I believe some side agreements have been made.
The Kraken are also expected to return some of their expansion picks immediately after being selected – just like the Vegas Golden Knights did – so expect them to stay busy.
Former Golden Knights general manager George McPhee explains how other NHL teams could handle the next Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
Who is going to Seattle?
I interviewed a veteran player, prominent agent, assistant coach and front office executive on Sunday after the protection rosters were released, and asked: who are the most obvious pickups for the Kraken? The two most common responses were Yanni Gourde (Lightning) and Max Domi (Blue Jackets).
Domi is coming off a rough season and underwent shoulder surgery in June, which should put him on the sidelines until at least November. But he’s an old score of 70 points on an expiring deal – making him a good player to return to by the trade deadline.
As for Gourde? The Lightning has left the Kraken with plenty of valuable players, thanks to their tighter cap, but Gourde is a serious, handy center that a team can build a line around.
Two blueliners who might be suitable
The veteran player, a defenseman, also believed Calvin de Haan (Blackhawks) and Brenden Dillon (Capitals) would make sense for Seattle.
“These two guys are on good business,” the player said. “De Haan has been prevalent in the Kraken for a while. Dillon played junior hockey in Seattle [the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds], so i bet they’ll want guys with local connections. “
The top of the draft is in the foreground
Owen Power is the alleged No. 1 pick in Friday’s draft, and it would be surprising if the Buffalo Sabers didn’t pick the 6-foot-6 defenseman.
“I would be just as stunned if Matty Beniers didn’t go to Seattle [at No. 2] A scout told me last week.
When I spoke to Beniers, from Massachusetts, last week, he told me he idolized Patrice Bergeron and modeled his game on him. “Watching him pretty much my entire life, he’s a guy I’ve always admired,” Beniers said. “So I tried to become that type of player, a responsible two-way player with skills for making games, but who also has a very good hockey IQ. “
Beniers is also often known for its high motor skills. The scout told me he thinks Beniers will become No.2 because of his talent, but also because it will be harder for Seattle to find crosses later in the draft.
How far will Klimovich go?
A sleeper pick in this year’s draft: Danila Klimovich of Belarus, who could squeeze in the first round. Like Yegor Sharangovich (No.141 overall for the Devils in 2018), Klimovich burst onto the scene late, in part due to lesser exposure from Belarus.
Klimovich didn’t have a chance to play in North America before this year’s IIHF World Under-18 Championships in Texas – and what an impression he made.
“At the same time that the United States and Finland were playing, each GM was cleaning up the beautiful Dallas ice rink and going to the first where the Belarusians were playing,” said one person who attended the tournament. “Because Klimovich was so good, they had to see it for themselves. “
The center has scored six goals in five games at this tournament.
Wait, is Ovi on the available list?
By leaving free agent without compensation on hold Alex Ovechkin from their protection list, the Capitals were able to protect an additional forward, who ended up being Daniel Spron.
Ovechkin’s unprotected status is just a formality. Most people in the league think there’s a handshake deal or at least part of a new deal in place between the Caps and their captain, which is expected to be announced after the expansion draft.
Hugues family reunion
In May, I was told, “If Luke Hughes is there for them, the Devils or the Canucks will be hard pressed not to take him.
Then the draw took place. The Canucks, who have 21-year-old Quinn Hughes, got the ninth pick. The Devils, along with 20-year-old Jack Hughes, sit fourth.
It’s hard to imagine Luke Hughes dropping to No.9 at this point. Most people I’ve spoken to believe New Jersey will eventually select Hughes’ younger brother. If the Devils don’t go to Hughes, the other player they seem to be interested in is Swedish defender Simon Edvinsson.
A goalie in the top 10?
There are teams in the top 10 of the draft who are considering selecting goalkeeper Jesper Wallstedt. I was impressed with Wallstedt’s maturity when I spoke to him on the phone last week. He grew up idolizing Henrik Lundqvist and even went to Lundqvist goalie camps as a child.
A goaltender’s first-round draft hasn’t seemed so risky or rare over the past three years. Florida feels good to have selected Spencer Knight at No.13 in 2019, and Nashville selected Yaroslav Askarov at No.11 last year, who was considered an exceptional talent.
Wallstedt is not the only goalkeeper to be selected in the first round this year; Sebastian Cossa is the other. I also loved talking to him and enjoyed hearing that he played football for five years as a center and linebacker. You rarely see a football / hockey crossover athlete.
Some teams see Cossa before Wallstedt, so it will be intriguing to see where the two end up.
Chicago seeks goalkeeper
Even though they picked a goalie in the second round last year (Drew Commesso), it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Blackhawks draft another goalie, this time in the first round.
I was also told that the Blackhawks could be active in free agency for a goalie; there are a lot of veteran options available.
New Jersey ready to spend?
The New Jersey Devils are trying to speed up their rebuilding and expect to be more competitive in 2021-22. The acquisition of Ryan Graves as part of an Avalanche transaction was the first step.
I’ve heard they’re looking for a veteran goalie as well (just like last year when they signed Corey Crawford, who retired before adjusting to a game for them).
The Anaheim Ducks left Henrique unprotected, after an unsuccessful attempt to trade the forward last year. If he’s not selected, it looks like the Ducks will still try to move him this year, but may have to keep some of his $ 5.85 million salary.
Breaking news on the Seth Jones business front
It’s hard to know when a Seth Jones trade may go down, as Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t afraid to make the bold move – like hanging on to a player who doesn’t want to re-sign, to l contract expiration, to start the season.
Jones is expected to be moved at some point, though – although his situation isn’t as untenable as Jack Eichel’s in Buffalo or Vladimir Tarasenko’s in St. Louis. In the cases of Eichel and Tarasenko, it seems that the loss of trust between the player and the club seems irrevocable.
What to do with island decisions
When the protection rosters came out and I saw Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle both available at the Islanders, my first instinct was that GM Lou Lamoriello struck a side deal with Kraken GM Ron Francis. . It may be, but it was pointed out to me that one theme on the Islander Protection List is cost reduction.
The Islanders are often the toughest team to get information on, as Lamoriello runs a tight ship. But we do know that securing a new contract for restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier and (especially) Adam Pelech are priorities for the Islanders. It looks like UFA’s new signing Casey Cizikas is high on Lamoriello’s to-do list as well.
If Seattle selects Bailey or Eberle, the door for Kyle Palmieri to re-sign will be open, or the recently acquired Zach Parise to fit in.
New York is also set to replace Nick Leddy, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Isles take part in Ryan Suter’s courtship.