2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Preview: Vancouver Canucks

Seattle Kraken expansion draft

The 2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft is coming soon. Even though the playoffs are still going on, most teams will be starting to focus on the offseason as we get further into June. The Seattle Kraken will start their inaugural year in 2021-22, and with that comes the expansion draft. There are plenty of opportunities for this Seattle team and the draft, which will take place on July 21st, and is sure to be thrilling. While it will be hard to replicate the success of the Vegas Golden Knights (who are exempt from this draft) first season, fans should be excited regardless. Each day, Last Word on Hockey will go through a team and preview all the possible protection, exposure, and trade scenarios. Today, we take a look at the Vancouver Canucks preview for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Options for Vancouver Canucks

Any way you want to look at it, the Canucks had a brutal season. Losing all their unrestricted free agents changed a lot of the room for a new year. Their coaching staff was in the final year of their contracts. Intending to take a week-long break late in the year, the Canucks accepted a compressed schedule early. Then spent the break trying to recover from the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the league. The last stretch was compressed even further while the team was recovering and couldn’t make up any lost ground.

The end result was a last-place finish and an embattled general manager, with fan anger spilling over onto the owner who had made drastic staffing cuts to reduce losses for the year. It wasn’t great, and it certainly wasn’t dull.

The Outlook

On the ice, the team is quite well-positioned for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. There is little available that the Canucks are afraid to lose. There would have been a single No Movement Clause contract that needed protecting, but Micheal Ferland‘s long-term injury makes him exempt. He may still have value for a cap-pinned team, but that’s not the Kraken. It’s less a matter of who Vancouver will lose than who Seattle would bother with.

Protection List: Forwards

Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Motte, Kole Lind

There are really only five forwards who the Canucks absolutely do not want to lose. And it’s only five because of Pearson’s new deal. Motte is been exactly the sort of player teams want on their fourth line. He’s fast on the forecheck. He can kill penalties with enough skill and speed to be a threat shorthanded. Not the cheapest guy, but his $1.225 million for each of the next two years isn’t bad. And while Lind hasn’t come along as quickly as hoped, his habit of starting each new league slowly might emerge yet.

Protection List: Defence and Goalie

With the end of Alexander Edler‘s contract, Schmidt is likely the best overall matchup defender. He had a rough season, but that is far more likely the exception rather than the rule. He plays in every situation and can switch sides, giving him versatility no one else on the team can match. Myers’ value to the team is not just in his physicality – though that is valued – but his offence as well. When the Canucks are down late, he’s often paired with Quinn Hughes because he can keep up with the star defenceman.
Not to belabour the obvious, but Demko is clearly the goalie of the future. And he has enough pull with the team that he’s subtly pitching his choice in the upcoming draft. How obvious does he have to make it that he wants Logan Stankonia, er, Stankoven – who our own Ben Kerr ranks 30th overall – on the team?

Left Exposed

Jake Virtanen was a controversial decision either way even before the sexual assault accusations. As of now, he’s a poison pill who has almost certainly played his last game with the team. Despite his age and skill, there’s no way Seattle selects him. Loui Eriksson and Jay Beagle would need sweeteners to go with them, though there is still hope Antoine Roussel can get back into form. At least for one year.
The best options are among Vancouver’s question marks at forward. Jonah Gadjovich had an astounding run in the AHL against limited opponents. Lukas Jasek and Petrus Palmu have potential but neither has played a second of NHL time. Zack MacEwen took a step back after a breakthrough 2019-20 season. Jayce Hawryluk and Matthew Highmore both have some experience in the NHL and showed reasonably well with the Canucks in minor roles.
That’s not a lot to choose from, but it’s unlikely the defensively-minded Guillaume Brisebois catches the Kraken’s eye. And with all the goaltenders available, Braden Holtby‘s occasional flashes of solid play aren’t much of a draw, either. It should be noted that Lind, Gadjovich, Jasek, and Palmu are all waiver-exempt. In a pool this shallow, being able to send players to the minors without risking their loss can be a deciding factor. The Kraken won’t play everyone they select, after all.

Alternate Options

We sang Tyler Motte‘s praises in an earlier section, but he may end up exposed anyway. Unfortunately, he’s also injured a LOT. His rambunctious style – he led the team with 100 hits counted in just 26 games last year – will probably continue that trend. Both he and Lind may end up on the exposed list if they work a deal with a team that can’t protect everyone. You have to think every general manager in the league has the Carolina Hurricanes on speed dial, but if the Canucks can pull in one of their excess forwards? There’s going to be a domino effect.
The same can be said on the defence. The oft-injured Juolevi and/or the useful but expensive Myers may be exposed if Vancouver offers enough to a vulnerable team to fortify the Canucks’ defence on the cheap.

Looking Forward

What will not – or certainly should not – happen is the team offering bribes to Seattle. Sven Baertschi and Ryan Spooner are off the books, soon to be joined by Loui Eriksson and the Roberto Luongo recapture penalty. At the same time, both Beagle’s and Roussel’s deals go with Holtby’s and Virtanen’s. As awful as it sounds to Canucks fans, one more year will fix a lot of Benning’s mistakes. Best not encourage him to make more.

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