With the expansion draft protection lists submitted, the players on the block for the Seattle Kraken have been decided. Now in the lead-up to their inaugural draft, the Last Word on Hockey team are proposing their ideal selection from each team. As part of this exercise, salary cap and roster make-up have been incorporated into picking Seattle’s roster on behalf of general manager Ron Francis. Focusing on the teams in the Atlantic Division in this particular piece, let’s dive into our ideal picks for the Kraken. The following players listed account for our Seattle Kraken mock draft selections for the Atlantic Division.
Seattle Kraken Mock Draft for the Atlantic Division
Nick Ritchie, Left Wing
Nick Ritchie has had a rather interesting career. Drafted 10th overall by the Anaheim Ducks, big things were expected of the left-winger. When things did not pan out as expected, the Ducks traded him to the Boston Bruins. Since arriving in New England, Ritchie has had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. He started off his career as a Bruin with several costly penalties in Boston’s Second Round loss to the Lightning during the 2020 postseason. But Ritchie found redemption in his second year with the team as he got off to a hot start.
Ritchie’s 26 points in 56 games this season was a decent level of production for a third-line winger. There is plenty of potential in his game especially considering his strong net-front presence; he thrived when given that role this year. Should Seattle try to capitalize upon that skill, he could find some success in the team’s middle-six forward group. The 25-year-old still has some talent, the team just needs to figure out how best to use it.
Colin Miller, Defenceman
Buffalo Sabres defenceman Colin Miller has never spent more than two seasons playing for the same NHL organization. He was dealt to the Boston Bruins in the Milan Lucic trade. Unfortunately, Boston could not protect him in the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft so Sin City opted to select him. And Vegas then flipped him to Buffalo for a pair of draft picks. In this mock expansion draft, Miller finds his fourth home in his seventh NHL season.
His suitcase of a career would suggest that he isn’t very good. But quite the opposite is true. While Miller isn’t an elite defenceman, he is still a strong top-four blueliner. Over 349 career games, he has tallied 122 points. In addition to that, the 28-year-old has posted strong Corsi metrics throughout his career. Although his numbers dipped significantly in Buffalo, that speaks to the talent on the team as a whole, not just Miller’s play. Mind you, he still managed to put together a positive 1.9 relative Corsi for rating over his two years on an abysmal roster. No doubt Miller would be a great top-four defenceman with the Seattle Kraken.
Detroit Red Wings
Vladislav Namestnikov, Forward
When it comes to the roster of the Detroit Red Wings, almost no one sticks out as a must-draft player. So we are going with Vladislav Namestnikov. He has swapped teams more often than Miller has. After spending the first few years of his career as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he was sent to the New York Rangers in a trade package that led to the Bolts acquiring Ryan McDonagh. 20 months later, the Rangers then sent him to the Senators. When they didn’t want him in Ottawa, he was flipped to the Avalanche. Finally signing as a free agent with Detroit this past offseason, he finds himself unprotected going into the expansion draft. All in all, that’s five teams in four seasons.
But this selection comes down to a bang for your buck kind of situation. Namestnikov isn’t going to blow you away with impressive scoring. What he will do, however, is play a decent defensive game. Defence is going to be one of Seattle’s strong suits and Namestnikov fits that mould. With a +4.2 relative Corsi for rating over his career, it’s clear that the team gets better possession with him on the ice.
Chris Driedger, Goalie
This is a bit of a tough trigger to pull for the Kraken. Chris Driedger had a fantastic season with the Florida Panthers. A .927 save percentage in 23 games is hard to match and easily puts him amongst the best netminders from last season. What’s more, he would have gotten more time in net too if not for the fact that there were so many other mouths to feed. Sergei Bobrovsky needed net time purely because you cannot pay a player $10 million to sit on the bench. Spencer Knight also emerged as the goalie everyone thought he would be. Driedger would definitely have been the future starter if not for the former first-rounder.
For Seattle, the only downside to this pick is the fact that Driedger is an unrestricted free agent. He will definitely go for way more than what he was signed for in 2019, a meagre $850,000. By selecting Driedger, they are not only gambling on the fact that he can replicate his success, but that he will sign with them. Unrestricted free agency is a major draw for any player looking for a payday. If Driedger wants a big score, Seattle could be wasting a pick on him in vain.
Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing
The Montreal Canadiens are coming off of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final and it is shocking to think that Jonathan Drouin, Shea Weber, and Carey Price are all there for the taking for Seattle. Drouin comes in as the obvious pick for the Kraken here. Price and Weber are both older players with large salary cap hits that also have injury concerns. But talented top-six wingers with a reasonable cap hit at just 26 years old don’t grow on trees.
With 99 points in his first two seasons with Montreal, Drouin lit the team on fire. He was a ray of hope for the franchise, and arguably still is. His production has since been hampered by injuries over the past two seasons. With that said, his production has not faltered with a similar point per game ratio. Seattle should take a gamble here and select Drouin hoping he can stay healthy. There are not too many talented forwards in this draft so they should take every single one they can get their hands on.
Chris Tierney, Centre
There isn’t a whole lot that will wow you about Chris Tierney. The former San Jose Sharks draft pick blossomed when traded to the Ottawa Senators. He put up a career-high in points in his first year with the organization totalling 48 points, eight higher than his prior and final year with the Sharks. Not much else about his game will stand out. He is a decent centreman who can play in your bottom-six. But those kinds of gritty forwards can be valuable if used properly.
The Senators didn’t leave much for Seattle to choose from unless they are interested in 32-year-old goalscorer Evgenii Dadonov. But on the whole, Tierney’s selection comes partially based on his position. As a centre, Tierney has generated value for himself. Depth is an important aspect of any team and Seattle adds to theirs with this pick. Tierney is a bottom-six forward but could be effective in a limited role on the second line should injury problems arise. It is also far easier to transition a centre to the wing than the other way around. Tierney’s versatility makes him a valuable asset in this Seattle Kraken Mock Draft.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Travis Dermott, Defenceman
A second-round draft choice in 2015, the Toronto Maple Leafs left defenceman Travis Dermott is exposed for the Seattle Kraken to snatch; they should take him. Dermott wasn’t given the full spotlight in Toronto since the coaching staff opted to pair him with veteran Zach Bogosian for the majority of his ice time and as a result, he struggled. In this bottom pair role, Dermott failed to be as productive and ultimately fell short of what he could have been.
Some people will point to Dermott’s offensive numbers and say that he was an offensive black hole. But you also have to look at the opportunities given to him. Dermott only averaged 13:13 in ice time per game this year. He had a tough year, that is undeniable. But he still has the potential to be a solid top-four defenceman. The Kraken front office takes a gambit on him in this Seattle Kraken Mock Draft.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Yanni Gourde, Centre
Tampa Bay is in a major cap crunch. It was ultimately worthwhile as they have now won back-to-back Stanley Cups. The team took a 4-4-1 approach to protect their elite defensive core in the hopes that Seattle will select one of their top-earners from their exposed forward group. While none of their premier talents are available, Yanni Gourde is certainly the cream of the crop that’s left.
Although his 5’9″ frame may scare off some general managers, it shouldn’t deter Ron Francis. He knows as well as anyone that the league is shifting to a more fast-paced style of play. Gourde can play that way and he puts up a lot of points doing it. His cap hit is also doable at roughly $5.1 million per year. Gourde is a player who makes an immediate impact on this team and will be a cornerstone player for a long time. If the Kraken pass on him, they will be making a huge mistake.