Since I finished my previous version of a mock draft for the Kraken here, there have been substantial changes called for due to the trade deadline and some performances down the stretch. In addition, I had already planned on this version including potential trades for Seattle. Instead of going back through the whole team, here is what I would change since last time.
The Hurricanes traded Haydn Fleury to the Ducks, removing one of the options for me to build Seattle’s defense around. The bright side is that this becomes one of the easiest changes to make - my prior choice was between Fleury and Jake Bean, so I just make the 1 for 1 swap here and add Bean.
The other half of that trade has downstream impacts as well. I had previously picked Sonny Milano, hoping that he could discover some of the promise from earlier in his career - another down year has me looking elsewhere. With the addition of Fleury, I expect that Anaheim could go the eight skaters protected route instead of seven forwards and three defensemen - with that in mind, I’m choosing to select Danton Heinen as forward depth.
Anaheim could end up being one of the more interesting teams to monitor leading up to the expansion draft, largely due to how hard the team’s strategy has been to figure out. This is a team that wasn’t ready to compete yet, but still gave out contracts like the one to Kevin Shattenkirk. If the Ducks do go 7 and 3, it’s possible that Shattenkirk is even who they expose to open up cap room. Rickard Rakell’s situation is also worth monitoring; something is clearly wrong between him and the team. I can’t imagine the Ducks just exposing him, but he could become a trade target for Seattle.
Despite the multitude of issues in Buffalo, I think there is an opportunity to get an important part of the forward group here. I’d previously hoped to pick Casey Mittelstadt here, but his strong end to the season makes it unlikely that the Sabres will leave him unprotected. Instead, I look for Buffalo to shed some salary as they enter an even longer rebuild - I’m picking Jeff Skinner in exchange for the Sabres retaining 30% of his salary, the rights to Lawrence Pilut, and a fifth-round pick.
Despite his struggles to actually find the net, Skinner was effective on a bad team at generating chances. His team had 55% of the high-danger chances while he was on the ice this year, and he’s shown his ability to score in the past. It will be hard to surround him with the talent to really help create chances for him to finish, but with scoring at a premium he’s worth taking on the salary.
Pilut looked extremely capable early on with Buffalo, but fell out of favor later. Given any other option Buffalo would be willing to include likely comes with inflated salary, he’s worth taking a chance on being able to bring back to the NHL.
As I said in my earlier version, the obvious pick from Dallas looks to be Anton Khudobin, even if I don’t see the Kraken as actually needing him to pair with Jake Allen. With that in mind, I’m including two trades as part of the Khudobin pick. A third and a fifth round pick from Dallas to take Khudobin - his salary is low enough that there’s no need to retain salary, but it seems like Dallas is ready to move on to having Oettinger be a permanent part of their mix.
I am then projecting a trade of Khudobin to Boston for a third - this is entirely based on speculation that Tukka Rask may be done after this season. If that happens, Boston gets a capable stop gap while their contention window is still open.
In my earlier version I had chosen to go with Anders Bjork here; that’s obviously not a choice with his move to Buffalo. Instead, I’m going to go with Craig Smith - he’s played largely sheltered minutes, but has shown the ability to provide some depth scoring that Seattle will need.
My pick doesn’t change here, but there does need to be salary retained to justify taking PK Subban at this stage in his career. With that in mind, I’m projecting that the Devils retain 3M and give up a 2022 3rd round pick.
Jordan Greenway had a strong season and provides a versatile dimension to the Wild, meaning I can no longer see them leaving him unprotected. However, Minnesota is still in the position of having too many defensemen that they’d seem to like to either keep or at least get value back in a trade. Their window seems to potentially be opening back up, so I’m taking a second-round pick to avoid Matt Dumba and take Victor Rask instead. Rask can move into the top-six for now, and hope that he regains some of his form from earlier in his career.
Jesse Puljujarvi has proven himself worth keeping for Edmonton, so it becomes a choice between either some players who have underachieved or bottom-six depth. I’m choosing to go with Dominik Kahun - of the options available, he stands out as one of the most likely to realize some of his scoring promise and boost the Kraken’s offense.
With some of the moves Chicago has made this year, I still don’t see Seattle getting an important player here and instead will have to go after organizational depth. I’m choosing to take Riley Stillman as depth on the left side of defense, especially since the rest of the organizational depth there right now needs to be brought back to the NHL.
My pick from Washington isn’t changing right now, but this is clearly an area to watch. TJ Oshie has come out and said he doesn’t want to leave, but ultimately the choice won’t be his. The decision for Washington will come down to what they can do with Oshie’s salary - their window is closing fast, if it hasn’t closed already, so maybe it makes sense to just keep Oshie for now. However, I’m projecting that he is exposed and the Capitals look to add a little bit more depth with his salary off the books. Seattle gets their captain and a top-six forward for now.
Now that they’ve won the second pick in the draft, the Kraken will obviously have a number of options here; I’m assuming that the Sabres will go with Owen Power at number one. I’m choosing to go with Matthew Beniers because of where Seattle stands after my other picks - they have a lot more depth on the back-end than up front. Beniers might not be an elite scorer, but his all-around game will be a valuable piece for the Kraken to build around.
Overall, this might not quite be the Knights lineup from their expansion, but it is a relatively competitive team. While there isn’t a true number one line, the depth of scoring could be a strength of Seattle. Meanwhile, the defense should keep them in games - they’ll have to find young depth on the right side over time, but for now they should be able to stay in games my limiting their opponents. This is also likely still over inflated with NHL ready talent, even if a lot of it would be lineup depth - if Seattle were to leave the draft with a lineup like this, I’d expect them to move some of those NHL depth pieces for more picks or minor leaguers to build up the full system. It’s certainly not easy to build organization depth from scratch, and Seattle will need to pick up as many chances to find a hidden gem as they can.