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 Dallas Stars preview for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Options for the Dallas Stars
After a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2020, the Dallas Stars fell four points shy of qualifying for the 2020-21 postseason. The Stars got off to a hot start despite beginning their season two weeks later than everybody else due to a Covid-19 outbreak. However, after winning their first four games of the season with an explosion of offence, Dallas quickly hit a slump. They limped through much of the season, struggling to string wins together; only eight teams had fewer win streaks than them in 2020-21. Losing six of their last eight regular-season games, it was clear they were going to fall short this year.
As the expansion draft approaches, the Stars protection list isn’t much of a mystery. The question is who Seattle will ultimately pick from the club. Dallas is in a great position for this upcoming draft as it’s pretty evident they won’t be losing a player integral to their organization.
Protection List: Forwards
Three of the Stars’ forward protections will be filled by Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov. They all have no-movement clauses on their contracts and it doesn’t seem likely they will waive them. Benn, Seguin, and Radulov have had a fair amount of success in Texas and they’ll want to do all they can to continue it together.
In July of 2019, former San Jose Sharks captain, Joe Pavelski signed a three-year, $21 million dollar contract with the Stars. As of this past season, his no-trade clause has expired and Dallas will not be forced to protect him in the expansion draft. But, they will. In 56 games played this past season, Pavelski tallied 25 goals and 26 assists for a total of 51 points. He ended the regular season with the most points on the team. There is no way Dallas won’t want to keep him for the upcoming season despite him becoming a UFA in 2023.
As for Roope Hintz, Radek Faksa, and Jason Dickinson, they all bring elements of the game to the table that the Stars are interested in. Hintz is young, a top-three point scorer for Dallas, and a proven playoff producer. Faksa is one of the better defensive forwards in the league and Dickinson has been a solid player for the Stars the past three seasons and can play anywhere in the lineup. Add that to his age (25) and this is a player that Dallas would prefer not to lose.
Protection List: Defencemen and Goalie
Esa Lindell and John Klingberg held down the Stars blueline as their top pair for most of their season. They both averaged around 23 minutes of ice time, the most on the team save for Heiskanen who averaged 25. Speaking of Heiskanen, he’s Dallas’ defensive future. Drafted 3rd overall in the 2017 draft, he fell just short of being nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2019 where he finished fourth in the voting. He was also in the conversation for the 2020 Conn Smythe Trophy for his outstanding performance in the postseason. Despite ultimately losing out to Victor Hedman, Heiskanen proved his worth to Dallas with his 6 goals and 20 assists that helped bring the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final. All in all, the projected defencemen protection list is pretty straightforward.
As for which goalie Dallas will add to their list, they don’t exactly have a choice. A no-movement clause in Ben Bishop’s contract grants him a permanent position on the Star’s roster. As for backup Anton Khudobin, it was thought that he would be the obvious choice for the Kraken. His play for two years with Dallas looked as though he had the potential to be a starter anywhere else. Unfortunately, his rough 2020-21 season may have changed that.
Dallas’ protection list is not a hard one to predict based on the performance of their players the last couple of seasons. The Stars’ front office did a great job in making sure they wouldn’t be losing anyone of particular note. On offence, Denis Gurianov, Andrew Cogliano, and Blake Comeau are up for grabs. Due to Cogliano’s and Comeau’s pending UFA status, it just wouldn’t make sense to protect them when they could be going somewhere else anyway. As for Guarinov, his rookie year saw him leading the Stars with 20 goals. But, he struggled this past season. He has the potential to do great things, but the Dallas Stars are looking to get something going now.
On the blueline, Dallas is most likely leaving Jamie Oleksiak exposed. He’s definitely transformed into a top-four defenceman, but Klingberg, Heiskanen, and Lindell are more integral to the lineup as of right now. He’s also a pending UFA as of this offseason.
As previously mentioned, Khudobin will be the sole goaltender exposed. Meanwhile, Jake Oettinger, who is on an entry-level contract, is exempt from the expansion draft.
Who the Dallas Stars are protecting is pretty predictable, but Denis Gurianov is definitely a possible option for protection. Surpassing his 2019-20 season output by one point, Gurianov is trending upwards. But, his consistency is in question. He is only 24 and isn’t the most confident in his abilities with the puck. Overall, Jason Dickinson is the better and more consistent option for the Stars in this expansion draft.
As for other alternative options, the Dallas Stars don’t have that many. Their protection list is easily expected compared to some of the other teams in the league.
The Stars shouldn’t be dreading this expansion draft. While losing a player is a necessary evil, it shouldn’t impact their roster that much. But, if they want to get back to the way they played in the 2020 postseason, they will need to make some other adjustments. Something just didn’t click and that needs to change if they want to be competitive again.