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 New York Rangers preview for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Options for New York Rangers
The Rangers have plenty of young players and that works in their favour. They don’t have to protect players like Adam Fox, K’Andre Miller, Igor Shesterkin, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. New general manager Chris Drury can focus his protection spots on other players.
The season had odd bookends with the Rangers struggling out of the gate. Centre Mika Zibanejad revealed he contracted COVID-19 and got off to a slow start. Tony DeAngelo got into an altercation with Alexandar Georgiev and played his last game with the club. Artemi Panarin had to attend to family matters involving him and the Russian government. Head coach David Quinn and his staff were quarantined and Kris Knoblach had to take over a for a few games.
The end of the season was just as odd with Washington Capitals agitator Tom Wilson getting into scrapes with Pavel Buchnevich and Panarin. New York then sent a nastygram to Department of Player Safety head George Parros. Team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton got fired, which meant Drury stepped into the position.
He then fired coach Quinn and the team was searching for a bench boss. However, the middle of the season showed promise with Panarin and Zibanejad scoring goals. Kakko bounced back from a shaky rookie year and Lafreniere finished strong. The groundwork for a future contender is there and there’s a new coach in Gerard Gallant.
Protection List: Forwards
The first three forwards are simple enough as they all have no-movement clauses. All three are big drivers of scoring offence for the club and will be key to the Blueshirts getting back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Buchnevich, Chytil and Howden are all restricted free agents and needs new deals in the off-season. Chytil and Buchnevich are important parts of the Rangers offence along with Strome. Buchnevich has formed a bond with Kreider and Zibanejad to make the KBZ line while Strome and Panarin have good chemistry.
Howden has made his way onto the list, but Colin Blackwell might get the spot. Blackwell is an unrestricted free agent and will likely want a raise from his $750,000 salary. He was key as a solid depth forward, but getting Buchnevich and Chytil under contract is a higher priority.
Protection List: Defence and Goalie
Trouba and Lindgren are easy choices to protect on defence. Trouba did struggle in parts of the season, but rebounded before an injury sidelined him at the end of the season. Lindgren settled into his role and earned himself a new contract for it.
Hajek gets the nod over Anthony Bitetto, but both make a similar amount of money. Hajek gets $833,333 while Bitetto commands $737,500 and is under contract until the end of next season. DeAngelo’s issues with the team allow for the Rangers to have that extra protection slot.
Shesterkin is exempt due to his service time, but they will have to get him an new deal since he’s an RFA. Georgiev is a capable backup and gets the protection slot over Keith Kinkaid.
DeAngelo won’t get to the expansion draft process because he’ll likely get bought out before then. The buyout period starts 24 hours after the Stanley Cup is lifted and Drury likely won’t waste time solving the DeAngelo problem.
Blackwell could serve as a good bottom-six forward as well as Kevin Rooney or Phil Di Giuseppe. Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson are unrestricted free agents that will be exposed. However, Seattle likely goes with Blackwell or Rooney if they’re exposed.