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, 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 Ottawa Senators preview for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Preview
The Ottawa Senators had a very interesting season that was filled with a bunch of highs and lows throughout it. Overall, most fans would view it as a success and pretty fairly so. Ottawa climbed out of the basement of the standings and saw some large improvements from key rookie players. They will look to continue that success as next year goes on. As for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, Ottawa is in one of the better positions out of any team in the league. They have a bunch of young talent they won’t need to protect and in all reality, there aren’t too many scenarios where they lose someone they can’t live without. So, let’s take a look at the options.
Protection List: Forwards
There was some discussion online about whether or not Dadonov should be protected. However, with Vitaly Abramov heading overseas for two more seasons, he becomes a pretty easy protect. Yes, he had a disappointing first season with Ottawa, but his underlying numbers suggest at least part of it was bad luck. Bringing him back should have more success, even if he’s not quite worth the 5 million he makes. White is the same idea. His contract isn’t the greatest, but the Sens really don’t have much else of an option. White can still be a very effective 3C for this team or even move to the wing if needed. This is why he’ll likely be protected by the Sens in this draft.
Tkachuk and Batherson are easy ones. Barely need to be talked about for this as they are part of the core moving forward. Paul and Connor Brown both cemented themselves as protection candidates this year. If Ottawa had to protect someone like Joshua Norris, they may have a harder decision on a few of these players. However, given they are in such a good place going forward, Paul and Brown should both be protected and part of their forward core next season.
Finally, we have Logan Brown. Now, Brown may not have a future with Ottawa. But the biggest reason he may be protected is he can still be used in a trade. His value isn’t what it once was, before years of injuries. A big centre who has shown lots of his skill in the AHL and still in his early 20’s will be hard for teams to pass upon. Keeping him to leave their options open would be smart for the Senators.
Protection List: Defence and Goalie
Here is where things get interesting for the Sens Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. Their blueline is pretty thin, but for the expansion draft, they’re in an amazing place. This is because they don’t need to protect either Erik Brannstrom or Artem Zub. Meaning their third slot is wide open. Chabot is an easy one, no one is even thinking about exposing him. Mete showed promise after his waiver claim last year and giving him another shot is important.
That leaves the third slot wide open. Nikita Zaitsev is the other option, but we will get to that in a second. Josh Brown had an interesting year with Ottawa. He really struggled to start and many fans wanted to see him gone. However, as the year went on he looked better in a third-pair role. Is he their best option going forward? Likely not. But there really isn’t a much more valuable asset to protect at this time.
As for Gustavsson, he is the perfect option for Seattle’s third-string goalie. This is exactly why Ottawa should protect him. He has a very small sample, so expecting him to be the “starter of the future” or anything like that is premature. However, his potential is there and the value is worth protecting.
There are a couple of big names with big money that could be left exposed. Zaitsev and Matt Murray are two we have on our list. But Dadonov and White could be other potential ones too. For this list, notable names left exposed include Zaitsev, Murray, Chris Tierney, Austin Watson, and Joey Daccord.
There will be some that argue Zaitsev should be protected over Brown, and that may happen. However, the chances Seattle takes that contract for free is almost zero. Even if they do, that’s a net positive for Ottawa. Yes, Zaitsev plays a ton of minutes, but he doesn’t play them well. Leaving Zaitsev exposed gives Ottawa another option to protect an asset. This is the same argument for leaving Murray. It’s not that they don’t like him, but if Seattle takes that contract they may be doing you a favour and giving you more money to work with. Instead, risk it and keep a promising asset in Gustavsson too.
If Seattle wants some leadership, Tierney may be an option for them. There is nothing wrong with Tierney, he’s just being pushed out of Ottawa due to their high number of forwards. He is a fine bottom-six who is slightly overpaid. But he is also off the books this year so maybe Seattle looks at him. Finally, there is Daccord. He could be an option as a third goalie in Seattle, but his numbers just haven’t been that strong. Not all his fault, but the NHL or AHL numbers don’t scream can’t-miss. He had a good AHL year in 2019-20, but it was 24 games. There are two goalies Ottawa likely protects instead.
It seems very unlikely Ottawa makes any kind of side deal for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. However, they could be in an incredibly strong spot to take advantage of it. The blueline has been highlighted multiple times in this article. With no real third option to protect, they could go out and find someone. Many teams are going to be pressed tightly with four or even five good defencemen. Ottawa should be looking to go and find a team that doesn’t want to lose their fourth defenseman for nothing.
From there, Ottawa could have a legit chance at getting a top-four guy for cheap. This would be huge in giving them options going forward and could help solve the right side issue. Zaitsev can’t continue to play top-four minutes if this team wants to start competing for playoffs. If Ottawa can take advantage of a team that is in a worse place, that would be a tidy piece of business for Pierre Dorion.
This should be an interesting offseason for the Senators. It is more than likely they don’t lose someone crucial here. The worst-case might be they protect Murray and lose Gustavsson. While that wouldn’t be ideal, even that wouldn’t be the worst move ever made either. If they do protect Gustavsson, Tierney or maybe even Abramov seem like options to go out.
If someone like Dadonov is exposed, maybe he is gone. While that wouldn’t be ideal either, Dadonov likely isn’t in the long-term plans for Ottawa. So once again, it would be a livable move. No one wants to lose players, but overall Ottawa is in a pretty good spot for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.