As the NHL season continues and rosters begin to somewhat solidify, the options that will be available to the Seattle Kraken are starting to come into focus. With that in mind, I’m revisiting how I would approach the draft; I’ll do so one division at a time, followed by an analysis of the resulting team.
A few notes on what’s included in this version:
This is my projection of how I would approach the draft, not a prediction of how the Kraken will actually handle it. So much of the Kraken’s actual decisions will depend on the style of team they want to build and their overall organizational strategy.
I mention some potential trade targets and structures, but have not predicted any trades yet. That will come in my next version of the draft.
I’ve aimed to build the best team I could, and have ensured that I meet the requirements of the draft. However, that’s left me with a team that would have too many NHL caliber players in the minors. Some of that will be addressed with the trades in the next version, while the Kraken will also choose in some cases to pick fringe players instead of the best player available.
I’ve made sure the team would be able to put out two powerplay and penalty kill units, but have not yet addressed items like ensuring the powerplay units have a workable mixture of right and left-handed shots.
F: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jakub Vrana, Lars Eller, Carl Hagelin
D: Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, Brenden Dillon
G: Ilya Samsonov
RW - T.J. Oshie - Signed for an AAV of 5.75M
I chose to start with the Metro division and the Capitals specifically for this pick - the biggest consensus around any pick is that the Kraken will take Oshie from Washington. Washington needs to start shedding some of its bigger contracts, while Oshie was born in Washington state and would be an obvious choice to serve as the Kraken’s first captain.
On the ice, Oshie is still a capable scorer who has consistently put up double-digit goals at 5v5. While his underlying stats are average, they’ve typically outperformed the relative stats of the rest of the team. Meanwhile, his team’s actual share of the scoring has exceeded the xG in almost every season.
For a team that may struggle to create chances early on, a player who can put himself in position to convert on those limited chances could be invaluable. Additionally, Oshie’s ability in the shootout could be a major difference in Seattle gaining points in close games.
While the expectation for the Kraken to take Oshie has been consistent, this is still an area that could provide some later round picks to Seattle. Washington needs to create space, and would likely be willing to provide at least one pick to ensure Seattle doesn’t deviate from this expectation. The Capitals could also protect Oshie and then work a trade with Seattle to include him along with the expansion draft pick.
F: Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal, Jseper Fast, Vincent Trocheck, Warren Foegele
D: Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton
G: Petr Mrazek
D - Haydn Fleury - Signed for AAV of 1.3M
The Hurricanes have an abundance of defensive talent, and this pick will likely come down to Fleury or Jake Bean. Bean is younger, but the difference maker for me is that Fleury is still signed for 2021-22. Fleury has arguably been ready for a bigger role with the Hurricanes for years, and provides a chance for the Kraken to find a player who doesn’t need to be forced into a position higher in the lineup than what he’s filling currently.
Fleury has posted solid possession numbers while in the lineup for the Hurricanes, posting a Corsi% of over 53% at 5v5 last season. His expected goals and scoring chance numbers have been over 50% as well, and I expect that to only improve with a more consistent role in the lineup. I don’t think the Kraken can pass up a physical presence that can move the puck, and Fleury slides right into their top-four.
While I’m high on Fleury, Jake Bean has the chance to be just as valuable and fill a similar role for the Kraken down the road. With that in mind, this may be a chance to identify who the Hurricanes value more. If Carolina feels strongly about protecting one or the other, the chance to obtain more picks or prospects is more valuable in my mind than having either of these players over the other; I would not do a trade that allowed Carolina to keep both.
Columbus Blue Jackets
F: Patrick Laine, Jack Roslovic, Cam Atkinson, Max Domi, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Gustav Nyquist
D: Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Vladislav Gavrikov
G: Joonas Korpisalo
D - Dean Kukan - Signed at AAV of 1.65M
Kukan’s struggled to consistently break into the Columbus lineup until this season, but has always put up strong xG and scoring chance numbers - his high danger chance share was just over 50% last year, and that was the worst number of his career. This is one of the easiest picks of the draft for me, picking up a defenseman who in a worst-case can fill the bottom pairing and help make it one of the better ones in the league right away.
New Jersey Devils
F: Nico Hischir, Jesper Bratt, Andreas Johnsson, Pavel Zacha, Janne Kuokannen, Nicholas Merkley, Kyle Palmieri
D: Will Butcher, Ryan Murray, Damon Severson
G: Mackenzie Blackwood
D - P.K. Subban - Signed at AAV of 9M
Subban is clearly not the player he once was, but still has some value if used in the right spot. His possession numbers at 5v5 dropped below 50% last season, but he’s consistently been above that mark throughout his career. He does tend to give up a high amount of dangerous chances, meaning it will be vital to pair him with a responsible partner.
The key to both where Subban hurts the Devils but could be beneficial to the Kraken is his contract. An AAV of $9M is far too much for the Devils to be paying for his current performance, but Seattle will be nowhere near the cap in their first year and can absorb the contract. This makes it a perfect situation to take advantage of that inequality to get additional assets, while also picking up a serviceable player that can fill a role on the powerplay.
Potential Trade Options
The likely trade here would be to incentivize Seattle to take on Subban’s contract, with Wood standing out as my likely pick if the Devils weren’t willing to part with assets. He’s a bigger winger who has put up decent scoring numbers while also suggesting the raw ability to improve on them - however, his underlying stats have been very underwhelming. That makes Subban my preference as long as there are additional assets from a trade to offset the contract.
New York Islanders
F: Matthew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Kiefer Bellows, Josh Bailey
D: Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield
G: Semyon Varlamov
C - Casey Cizikas - UFA
Despite their strong performance as a team, the Islanders’ current roster doesn’t lend itself to giving the Kraken a lot of strong options that don’t come with bad contracts. With that in mind, this is likely a spot for Seattle to essentially pass unless something changes before the draft that would deepen the Islanders’ pool.
New York Rangers
Protected List: I put together this team prior to the Tony DeAngelo news, so this will change in the next version of the draft.
F: Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Ryan Strome, Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil, Brett Howden
D: Jacob Trouba, Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Lindgren
G: Alexandar Georgiev
D - Libor Hajek - RFA
Hajek struggled significantly when he was able to crack the Rangers lineup in 2019-20, putting up Corsi and Fenwicks under 40%, with a high-danger chance % of 37.72. His actual goal percentages have been better, but I would attribute that to a small sample size rather than anything sustainable.
This essentially becomes a bet on Hajek being a player that will improve significantly as he matures. To be clear, there’s a lot that will need to improve - he was the worst Rangers player last season in allowing high-danger chances, and needs to get more physical defensively to avoid the other team being able to own the front of the net. While he’s already eligible for the draft, he’ll only be 23 heading into the Kraken’s first season; he’s worth a gamble that there’s more to come.
F: Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Travis Koneckny, Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick, Jakub Voracek
D: Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers
G: Carter Hart
RW - Nicolas Aube-Kubel - Signed at AAV of 1.075M
Aube-Kubel has been successful in limited time on the ice for the Flyers, particularly in high-danger chances; in both 2018-19 and 2019-20 he posted high-danger chance percentages of 58%. That’s despite limited starts in the offensive zone, and he can easily be effective filling a bottom-six role with the Kraken.
Potential Trade Options
James Van Riemsdyk or Jakub Voracek could be offered as part of a package to allow the Flyers to offload salary. Either could be worth it to provide scoring on a team that will probably be lacking offense.