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2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Preview: Carolina Hurricanes

Seattle Kraken expansion draft

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 Carolina Hurricanes preview for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Options for Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes have been building their team for a long time. Their playoff appearance in 2018-19 was the first in a decade, and they aren’t going to let that go easily. Coach Rod Brind’Amour agrees, signing a three-year deal for less than he could have gotten on the open market. The downside to three years of success is having to decide who to protect. Then again, that’s a downside many teams in the league would love to have.

The Outlook

The Hurricanes are a team you’re going to hear a lot about in the coming days. They have some hard decisions to make at both forward and defence, and the prospect of losing a potentially valuable player for nothing is galling. Then again, that the team will only lose a single player will temper whatever decisions they make. Any team that doesn’t call Don Waddell a half dozen times before the Seattle Kraken expansion draft isn’t doing their job. As it stands, they are a virtual lock to use a 7/3/1 protection format despite the players that they will expose on defence. Here’s a closer look at our guess of what they’ll do.

Protection List: Forwards

In any normal season, fans would hope that Staal would waive his no-move clause. But in a normal year, the oldest player on the team – Staal – probably wouldn’t have one more goal than their youngest – Svechnikov. Even if Staal did waive, the team could easily justify protecting him. The captain is their matchup centre, used in every circumstance and usually up against the opponent’s best. That frees Aho and Trocheck to wreak absolute havoc on the offensive side. Trocheck and Niederreiter make what is theoretically a third line with Martin Necas, but if that’s the third line it’s a shockingly dangerous one.
Foegele sits here as the odd man out, though he lines up alongside Staal as often as anyone else. He has a sound defensive acumen to go along with some scoring touch, and at just 25 years old you can see why Carolina would protect him.

Protection List: Defence and Goalie

Slavin’s worth has just been reinforced by his Lady Byng Memorial Trophy win, but he was always going to be on the protected list. He’s easily the team’s best all-around defender, and that’s saying something. Pesce is never going to reach Dougie Hamilton‘s offensive numbers, but he is the most likely to inherit Hamilton’s spot if the unrestricted free agent remains unsigned. At least until Bean fully grows into the role, and he’s well on his way.
Bean had very protected use in his rookie season, but that won’t last for long. With Hamilton almost certainly gone, Bean is going to be groomed for the top job. With the skill already present on the Hurricanes’ blue line, there’s no rush.
“Ned” passed his first full season with flying colours, pulling a rock-solid .932 save percentage through 23 starts. That he also started nine of the team’s 11 playoff games tells you all you need to know about Carolina’s future plans.

Left Exposed

There are a lot of names here, and an equal number of options for the Carolina Hurricanes. It wouldn’t be all that much of a surprise to learn the team values current Brady Skjei more than potential Jake Bean, for instance. Or quickly signed Brock McGinn to a qualifying deal to expose him instead of Jesper Fast. Or for that matter, pull a wild card and protect the extremely affordable Morgan Geekie.
Every one of those names is a target on Seattle Kraken expansion draft day. Skjei is appreciated for his physical play and defensive acumen, but maybe they prefer Jake Gardiner‘s better offence, lower price, and shorter contract. Gardiner dropped from the top pair with the Toronto Maple Leafs to third with his move to Carolina two years ago. He’s been a top-pair defender and could regain that level again in Seattle.
No offence to 25-year old rookie Steven Lorentz, but while he showed well as a fourth-line player he’s an unlikely pick. More likely, should Seattle select a forward, is veteran middle-six winger Jesper Fast. He spent the past season playing in any situation required, including the second unit on both special teams. He has some scoring touch, too, with 10-15 goals and 30 points over a full season a reasonable expectation. The problem is getting a full season out of him. He plays a physical game with good speed, but a fairly light frame. For all his virtues, expect him to lose a dozen games to injury. On the other hand, his cap hit of $2 million a season for the next two years isn’t bad at all.

Alternate Options

There is a touch of irony in every team knowing the Hurricanes are vulnerable to losing players in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. In theory, that vulnerability means everyone knows they are going to want to sell. Even an offer well below normal market value should be considered in that situation, right? In practice, it means everyone knows a sale is going to happen and will want in on it. It may not be ethical to put a BIG SALE!!! sign on the front of your store and not actually drop prices, but if everyone just assumes you have a sale on that’s hardly your fault…

Looking Forward

The Hurricanes have a HUGE amount of cap space available to them and just four – including Bean – important restricted free agents to sign. But they won’t have as much as Seattle will. Majority Hurricane owner Tom Dundon isn’t a fan of spending his money, and that can come into play here. As much as people believe – rightly – that there will be very few unrestricted free agents chosen in the draft, the fact that the Kraken will have a two-day window to open talks with them makes the ‘Canes more of a target than most teams. A new team could do a lot worse than start with McGinn, Hamilton, and Fast.

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