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 Boston Bruins preview for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft For Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins had a fairly disappointing season in the eyes of fans. While a trip to the postseason is always an accomplishment to be proud of, this team had higher aspirations. This roster was viewed as ready to win a Stanley Cup. Getting bounced from the playoffs in the second round is too far short of their ultimate goal. As general manager Don Sweeney prepares this roster for the expansion draft, he will have difficult decisions to make. There are surely several excellent options available from this roster for the Seattle Kraken to select.
Protection List: Forwards
The first entry on this list is the first No Movement Clause (NMC) on the Boston Bruins’ roster. The captain of the Boston Bruins, Patrice Bergeron is a surefire lock to be protected, NMC or not. A four-time Selke winner and nominee for the award 10 years in a row, there is no debate to protect him. Bergeron will be on the Bruins’ roster next season.
Brad Marchand is another player carrying an NMC on his contract. Marchand has evolved into a top player at his position in the NHL. He is also one of the league’s best bargains with a cap hit of just $6.125 million per year. He is a leader in the locker room and a top-line player. There is no debating his protection in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.
Likely to the surprise of many, David Pastrnak does not have an NMC on his contract. But he will be protected either way. Pasta is Boston’s top goal scorer and a Rocket Richard Trophy winner just one year ago. He will be up for a new contract in two years and will surely not be as cost-effective for the team. But, there is no doubt that he is a player the Bruins will want to protect. He is arguably the best young player the Bruins have.
Charlie Coyle’s protection may be controversial to some. He makes a lot of money to be a third-line fixture with a cap hit of $5.25 million per year. He has not necessarily lived up to that contract thus far. While he has had some impressive play in the postseason, he disappears in the regular season. The front office surely hopes that he will eventually step into David Krejci’s current slot and thrive with an expanded role. Either way, he will be protected at the Seattle Kraken expansion draft as he carries the third and final NMC of the Boston Bruins.
The 2015 NHL Draft is a dark moment in history for fans of the Boston Bruins. Jake DeBrusk has been the lone bright spot of the three first-round picks in that draft. Then he had a horrific regular season. The only reason for Boston to protect him would be his improved performance in the postseason. They will protect him in hopes of using him as a trade chip in a package to improve the defence.
Craig Smith finally brought stability to David Krejci’s wing. A revolving door of players have played alongside the Bruins’ second-line centre. Smith spent most of this season in that role and should continue to stay on that unit for next season. He has proven himself with a 32-point campaign in the regular season and an additional five points in the playoffs. As one of their best free-agent signings in recent years, Don Sweeney would be a fool to leave him available in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
The final forward on this list, Trent Frederic is a Bruin built in a lab. He plays with a hard, physical skill set and has some offensive upside to his game. The front office just awarded him a two-year contract extension for his efforts this year. Frederic has won the hearts and minds of fans and will surely be a Bruin for a long time. It makes all the sense in the world for the front office to protect the young centre. Especially since they have so few in the pipeline.
Protection List: Defence and Goalie
Another of the Boston Bruins’ young stars, Charlie McAvoy is the franchise defenceman the team needs. With the departures of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug last offseason, the future of the blue line rests on his shoulders. The 23 year old put his skills on display this year. He had 32 points in the regular season, matching a career-high. McAvoy stepped up in the playoffs with 12 points in 11 games. He is another bright young player on the Boston Bruins’ roster.
Some people may debate the protection of Brandon Carlo. He has had significant injury concerns in the last two seasons, including a pair of concussions. This should be a no-brainer of protection, however. Carlo is easily the second-best defenceman on the team, behind McAvoy. He may not be as flashy on offence, but his defensive game is unmatched. He is a key cog in the machine that runs this team. If he bounces back from injuries, the Bruins will be in great shape.
Matt Grzelcyk is the only defenceman on the Bruins’ left side that can be a fixture in the lineup as it stands now. No one else has proven themselves just yet. There are several players vying for playing time on that unit, but Grzelcyk is easily the best of them. He has filled Krug’s powerplay quarterback role nicely. There have been some concerns on defence, including a few costly lapses in the playoffs. But overall, there is no other defenceman on Boston’s roster worthy of the third protection slot.
With Jeremy Swayman exempt from the expansion draft, Daniel Vladar is the obvious choice. The Bruins have two young goaltenders with the ability to play NHL minutes. He may not be a future starter for the Bruins, but he will certainly be a capable backup. Vladar may have found himself as the fourth goalie on the Bruins’ roster this year, but there is no other choice to be protected this year.
Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Jaroslav Halak and Taylor Hall will all go unprotected. All four are unrestricted free agents this offseason so it makes no sense to protect them. They will all likely hit the open market this offseason regardless of selection in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. By leaving them unprotected, it allows the Bruins to retain more of their roster.
There are two intriguing forwards that Boston could leave unprotected. Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase are both unprotected here. Both are also unsigned beyond this year but as restricted free agents, it ensures that Seattle could still retain them if they decide to select them. Ritchie is more likely to be selected as Kase is surrounded by injury questions. Ritchie also had a strong campaign in 2020-21 with 26 points.
There are also options on defence. Connor Clifton, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon all proved they could play in the NHL this year. Of the three young defencemen, Lauzon has the highest upside of them. He has played well and is only 24 years old. Lauzon also has the versatility to play both the left and right sides. Of the three, he is the most proven and has the highest ceiling.
While there are many intriguing options, Nick Ritchie is likely the pick here. The Seattle Kraken expansion draft is lacking talented forwards overall. Ritchie could be a solid second-line fixture for the new franchise.
Boston could opt to protect Ritchie over DeBrusk. The team seems intent on moving DeBrusk as he has been the subject of trade rumours all year long. Even if they protect him, he is likely to be moved this season. Ritchie on the other hand, has shown progress and was a big piece of Boston’s powerplay this year. Should the Bruins opt to protect Nick Ritchie over DeBrusk, the Kraken will have a difficult decision to make. Select an inconsistent winger or a developmental defenceman like Lauzon.
Boston has big decisions ahead of them. The championship window is closing. If they lose too many pieces to free agency and the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, they could be clawing just to get back into the postseason. Don Sweeney and the front office need to be careful in how they approach the expansion draft. If they make the wrong decisions, a Stanley Cup victory could be too far out of reach.