Recently, the Seattle Kraken officially announced their team name, revealing both logos and jerseys. Moreover, the team’s inaugural season will be 2021-22. The league has one offseason and an entire regular season before they enter the pacific division. However, it is not too early to begin thinking of who might be available for the Seattle Kraken roster. More importantly, who they should acquire. The statistics used will be courtesy of Evolving-Hockey’s expected goals above replacement (xGAR), expected even-strength offence (xEVO) and expected even-strength defence (xEVD), as well as JFresh’s player cards.
Options for the Seattle Kraken Roster
The team will more than likely be entering a rebuild. But, enough quality players will be available for the team to ice a roster that can compete. Most of these players are under-the-radar players who could surprise the hockey world. The ten players will comprise of six forwards and four defensemen who’s analytics indicate they are underrated. With Seattle possessing the second-largest analytics department in the NHL, they could all be targets.
Anders Bjork LW/RW, Boston Bruins
Anders Bjork has spent over six years in the Boston Bruins organization. This past season, he played a career-high 58 games. He is still 23 years old and the underlying numbers show some promise. Averaging just 12:56 time-on-ice per game, he ranked 132nd in xGAR among all forwards (4.6). His xEVO was a not so flattering 1.2 (229 among forwards). However, what makes Bjork intriguing is his defensive play.
He ranks in the 97th percentile for even-strength defence and 91st percentile for expected goals-against. His xEVD was 20th among forwards (2.7). The Bruins’ depth makes it unlikely he is protected. For Seattle, his age, cost control and upside are all positives. His contract extension is three years, $1.6M. He will never light the league on fire. But, a consistent middle-six contributor that is excellent defensively is his upside.
Blake Coleman C/LW, Tampa Bay Lightning
Blake Coleman has been one of the best shutdown forwards in the NHL this season. His quality of competition (QoC) ranks in the 95th percentile. Despite matching up against every opponent’s best players, his xEVD was fourth in the NHL among forwards (4.1). His offence was still well above average, ranking 96th among all forwards (4.4). Colemans overall xGAR was 7.9, placing 60th among all NHL forwards.
Coleman is a top-six forward and a stud defensively. Seattle would not need to select him in the expansion draft either. With an expiring contract and the Tampa Bay Lightning being heavily cap-strapped, the Kraken can recruit him via free agency. Seattle could offer Coleman, who will be 29, a chance to play a more offensive role. With him playing a defensive role and the offensive numbers not shining, his contract demands won’t be earth-shattering.
Ryan Donato LW/RW, Minnesota Wild
Offensive talent will be hard to come by. However, one potential gem is Ryan Donato, of the Minnesota Wild. Donato only averaged 10:38 time on ice and only Victor Rask averaged less among Wild forwards. He played sheltered minutes but was very efficient offensively. From his player card, he ranks in the 91st percentile on the power-play and 96th percentile in G/60.
Moreover, Donato placed 71st among all forwards in xEVO (5.1). Donato also ranks above replacement defensively (161st among forwards) with xEVD of 0.8. His overall xGAR was 7.5, good for 71st among forwards. If given prime offensive minutes, his 14 goals, could jump to 25-30 due to his great shot. He will only be 25 come the time of the expansion draft and a restricted free agent. With other younger players given more minutes, he is highly likely to be available in the expansion draft from Minnesota. This could be another solid addition to the Seattle Kraken roster.
Zach Sanford LW/RW, St. Louis Blues
A 2019 Stanley Cup Champion with the St. Louis Blues, Zach Sanford is an intriguing player. He will be a restricted free agent (RFA) and still 26 years old by the time of expansion. He placed 10th among Blues forwards in average ice time (13:44) but had a strong season.
Among forwards, Sanford ranked 109th in xGAR (5.8) and most notably 56th in xEVO (5.8). His xEVD was a weak point, ranking 416th among forwards and below replacement (-0.5). A big body player with good hands and decent offensive instincts, Sanford can play well with skilled players. He has a good offensive skill set and is an established player in the league. His upside is a decent middle-six scorer. Furthermore, St. Louis likely opts to keep Jordan Kyrou over Sanford.
James van Riemsdyk LW, Philadelphia Flyers
There a few reasons James van Riemsdyk would be a huge help to the Seattle Kraken roster. Firstly, he would step in and likely be the team’s best offensive player. Secondly, despite his age, he has performed well in the past few seasons. Among forwards, he ranks 54th in xGAR (8.2), 46th in xEVO (6.2) and 37th in xEVD (2.3). Lastly, his playstyle typically holds up longer than a more physical style might.
JVR is not an overly physical player and relies on instincts and skill to produce. He’s scored over 20 goals in all but one season that he’s played over 60 games since 2010. This year, he was one goal away (19 goals, 66 games). The Philadelphia Flyers will have to choose between Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom and JVR for the last two protection spots. Due to age and cap hit, it’s likely they opt to expose van Riemsdyk. JVR will have 3 years at $7M when the expansion arrives.
Carter Verhaeghe C/LW, Tampa Bay Lightning
The soon to be 25-year-old Tampa Bay forward, Carter Verhaeghe would be an interesting choice. With a xGAR of 5.8, Verhaeghe ranked 107th among forwards. His xEVO was quite good, at 4.6 (91st among forwards). His 0.5 xEVD score ranked 189th among forwards. Carter played in a fourth-line role, averaging just 9:22 time on ice per game.
He ranked in 82nd percentile in xGF and 85th percentile for G/60. While his ceiling as a player is not top-six quality, he certainly is ready for a bigger role. Verhaeghe could round into a solid two-way middle-six centre. The aforementioned Lightning are loaded upfront and Verhaeghe certainly will be made available in expansion. His contract is projected to be two years, at $1.22M (Evolving-Hockey).
Haydn Fleury D, Carolina Hurricanes
Everybody knows the depth the Carolina Hurricanes have on defence. One of the more overlooked players is 24-year-old defensemen, Haydn Fleury. Fleury played 45 games, averaging 13:40 minutes a game. He is a quality player blocked by veterans in front of him.
He ranked 61st among defensemen in xGAR (4.1). His xEVO was 80th (1.7) and xEVD ranked 99th (1). He is absolutely a breakout candidate as two-way defensemen. With Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, and recently acquired Brady Skjei, Carolina is unlikely to protect him. Hamilton is an unrestricted free agent, but their best player. Therefore, it’s likely they do everything they can to keep him. Fleury is an RFA after this season and his projected contract is two years, $1.272M.
Slater Koekkoek D, Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks defensemen, Slater Koekkoek has put together a very nice 2019-20 campaign. His 3.1 xGAR was good for 78th among NHL defensemen. Koekkoek’s xEVO was 89th (1.4) and xEVD was 59th (2). His 16:45 average time on ice was eighth among Hawks defensemen.
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will require protection. Chicago will also likely opt to protect one of Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta, or Connor Murphy before Koekkoek. Slater certainly isn’t the flashiest player but he is only 26 and his projected contract is 3 years, $2.135M. He is a decent defenseman and has quality underlying numbers. He ranks in the 80th percentile or higher for the penalty, even-strength offence and xGF. His even-strength defence, xGA and GF all rank in the 68th percentile or higher. He is ready for a bigger role.
Brett Kulak D, Montreal Canadiens
For Seattle, defence will be the name of the game. Brett Kulak is a solid stay-at-home defender currently servicing the Montreal Canadiens blue line. His 2 xGAR ranked 95th among defensemen. Kulak’s 2.3 xEVD ranked 38th among defensemen, which is where he adds significant value. His even-strength defence is in the 89th percentile and xGA in the 85th percentile.
He is sturdy, able to block shots and has a good defensive stick. Kulak brings the ability to play a stay at home role. His offence was below replacement (xEVO of -1.1) but he isn’t selected for offensive production. Furthermore, his $1.95M contract is very affordable. Also, with Shea Weber, Victor Mete, Jeff Petry and Ben Chiarot all ahead on the depth chart, he’ll be available. He’ll also be 27 when Seattle enters the league.
Jonas Siegenthaler D, Washington Capitals
The last player on the list is the Washington Capitals Jonas Siegenthaler. His 3.3 xGAR places 75th among defensemen. Yet another stay-at-home defender, his 2.5 xEVD ranked 34th in the NHL. Siegenthaler is a decent skater and sound positionally. He picks off passes, is good one-on-one and is steady. Jonas ranked in the 99th percentile for even-strength defence and xGA.
He placed in the 98th percentile for GA. His offensive game is slightly above replacement (0.6 xEVO) but nothing to take note of. His contract projection is two years, $1.255M and he is still only 23 years old. Washington will certainly protect John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov. After them, they’re likely opting to keep Michal Kempny or Nick Jensen as more established veterans. Moreover, Siegenthaler played only the eighth-most minutes among defensemen (15:44). Quality of competition was low, but taking a younger defender is in Seattle’s best interest.
While none of the aforementioned players are superstars, these are players that look ready for a bigger role. They will all be cost-effective and have a role on an NHL roster. For Seattle, it will be difficult to find high-end talent. Finding players with good underlying numbers and a good age will be the key. The only player over 30 is JVR, who is the most established player. If they can pick up some of these players the Seattle Kraken roster could surprise some people.