Beware the Kraken.
Seattle, the NHL’s incoming 32nd franchise, will stock its initial roster in Wednesday night’s expansion draft. And several teams may go through some drastic alterations as the Kraken make their picks.
If the league’s last expansion draft for Vegas — exempt from losing a player on Wednesday — in 2017 is a barometer, there will be plenty of maneuvering and side deals made with the Kraken to keep the new team from selecting a player another team doesn’t really want to lose but was forced to leave exposed to the draft.
That would include he Islanders’ Josh Bailey, the team’s longest-tenured player. Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello left both Bailey and fellow top-six forward Jordan Eberle exposed for the draft while protecting fourth-liners Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck.
The Kraken were believed to be initially interested in defenseman Nick Leddy, but Lamoriello dealt Leddy to the Red Wings rather than lose him for nothing. Now, it’s quite possible the Kraken have their sights set on Bailey, or at least want the Islanders to believe that.
Reportedly, the Kraken were seeking a first- and third-round pick to guarantee they would steer clear of an exposed player a team did not want to lose.
But Bailey is far from the only intriguing player available to the Kraken, whose decisions will be equal parts hockey decisions in constructing a roster and financial in working to satisfy salary cap requirements.
Bailey has three seasons remaining on a six-year, $30 million deal. Eberle has three seasons left on a five-year, $27.5 million deal.
The Canadiens, who lost a five-game Stanley Cup Final to the two-time champion Lightning, have left future Hall of Fame goalie Carey Price exposed. But Price comes with a pricey $10.5 million cap charge through 2026 and the Kraken have reportedly already reached a three-year deal with Panthers unrestricted free agent goalie Chris Driedger.
There is precedent for selecting a franchise goalie as a foundation piece. Vegas did so in 2017, taking future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury from the Penguins, who had just won their second straight Cup.
The Golden Knights became the first expansion team since the St. Louis Blues in 1968 to reach the Cup Final in their inaugural season, losing to Barry Trotz’s Capitals in five games.
The Kraken may also use the expansion draft to facilitate three-way trades.
For instance, the Blues have exposed sharpshooter Vladimir Tarasenko, who carries a $7.5 million cap charge through 2023. But Tarasenko has been limited to 34 games and just seven goals and 17 assists over the past two seasons as he’s dealt with shoulder issues. The Kraken may not be interested in gambling on Tarasenko, but there is interest in him around the NHL, including potentially from the Islanders.
The Kraken could select Tarasenko and then move him to another team to acquire more preferred assets.
Flames captain Mark Giordano, who carries a $6.75 million cap charge through 2022, may be another player taken by the Kraken and subsequently traded.
Seattle Kraken NHL Expansion Draft
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Picks in: The Kraken must submit their expansion draft selections to the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association by 10 a.m. on Wednesday. There is no set order as to how they will be revealed on television.
Rules: The Kraken will select a total of 30 players (at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies) – one from each club, except for Vegas, which is exempt. The Kraken must select a minimum of 20 players already under contract for 2021-22. The salary-cap charges of the players selected must total between 60-100% of the $81.5 million cap ceiling
Protected Islanders: F Mathew Barzal, F Anthony Beauvillier, F Cal Clutterbuck, F Anders Lee, F Matt Martin, D Scott Mayfield, F Brock Nelson, F Jean-Gabriel Pageau, D Adam Pelech, D Ryan Pulock, G Semyon Varlamov
Key unprotected Islanders: D Sebastian Aho, F Josh Bailey, F Kieffer Bellows, F Michael Dal Colle, F Jordan Eberle, D Andy Greene, D Thomas Hickey, F Ross Johnston, F Leo Komarov, F Richard Panik
Protected Rangers: F Pavel Buchnevich, F Filip Chytil, G Alexandar Georgiev, D Libor Hajek, F Chris Kreider, D Ryan Lindgren, F Artemi Panarin, F Kevin Rooney, F Ryan Strome, D Jacob Trouba, F Mika Zibanejad
Key unprotected Rangers: D Anthony Bitetto, F Colin Blackwell, D Tony DeAngelo, F Phillip DiGiuseppe, F Julien Gauthier, F Barclay Goodrow, D Jack Johnson, G Keith Kinkaid, D Brendan Smith