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) their 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 St. Louis Blues preview for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Options for the St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues didn’t end their 2020-21 season the way they wanted. But the playoff sweep at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche is only the most recent tip of a solid ten-year mountain. Yes, they’ve frequently been bumped out in the first round, but owning a Stanley Cup ring eases the pain. Understandably, the Blues have tried to maintain a team to challenge for the Cup they won just two seasons ago. That includes bringing in free agents, keeping veterans, and giving young players time. The normal risks include overextending fan favourites or desperate bids for free agents. This year’s twist has added repercussions.
One of the free-agent surprises last off-season was the combined result of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft and the ongoing flat cap. St. Louis outwaited everyone and grabbed a 30(-ish) goal scorer in Mike Hoffman at a reduced rate. Two other Blues forwards inked deals with expansion in mind, too. Having qualified players exposed for Seattle is easy. And if you didn’t know the next line was “too easy” then you haven’t seen enough heist movies.
Protection List: Forwards
There is an argument that the Blues could go with a 4/4/1 setup. Barbashev and Blais are well into their careers, and what we’ve seen is pretty close to what we’ll get. Solid NHLers, but not irreplaceable. Schenn just finished the first of an eight-year deal as a 29-year old. He’s a good player who’s earned that $6.5 million paycheque… this year. That’s a burden the Kraken may not want to pick up in their opening season. It would be a hard sell to fans but still might happen. For this article, though, we’re going to assume they go with the 7/3/1 protection format.
O’Reilly and Schenn – if they’re going with seven protected forwards – are the no-brainers, here. Amazingly, so is Perron. Originally a draft pick by the Blues, Perron did a quick tour of the continent through Edmonton, Pittsburgh, and Anaheim before returning to St. Louis as a free agent. He was scooped up by an eager Vegas Golden Knights squad in the previous expansion draft. Just as eagerly, he returned to St. Louis at the first opportunity. That he led the team in scoring for 2020-21 at a bargain price isn’t icing on the cake – it is the cake.
The young Thomas faltered this year, but that’s a blip, not a blast. The centre is obviously going to be protected. Kyrou, on the other hand, emerged as a legitimate scoring threat, having a great first full season in the NHL. While no one is actually “untouchable” in this league, Thomas and Kyrou would cost a LOT to convince the Blues to give them up.
And here we have Ivan Barbashev and Sammy Blais. These are the kind of solid, dependable players a team looks to fill their ranks with. They have a physical element to their games – Blais more than Barbashev – and have some scoring touch. At this point, Blais’ age and contract length make him worth protecting as much as anyone else up front. The same could be said for Barbashev, though his ability to play centre is a premium as well. Either of these players could be replaced with Oskar Sundqvist and no one would bat an eye. Realistically, the forwards aren’t likely where St. Louis is going to lose someone.