TRAIKOS: Price or Weber: Who will Seattle select in the expansion draft?

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If you were starting an expansion team, would you rather have Carey Price as your starting goalie or Shea Weber as your No. 1 defenceman?


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Of the three, would you want Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn or Ondrej Palat? How about Matt Duchene or Ryan Johansen? Jordan Eberle or Josh Bailey?

When it comes to the Seattle Kraken, who will take the first steps towards becoming the 32nd team in the NHL this year with the expansion draft on Wednesday, the options appear to be limitless.

On Sunday, the other 30 teams in the league submitted their protected lists of players who are unavailable to be drafted (Vegas, which entered the league in 2017, is exempt from the expansion draft). And while some rearranged their cupboards to avoid losing players — Toronto acquired Jared McCann from Pittsburgh, while Nashville traded Ryan Ellis to Philadelphia in exchange for Philippe Myers — the number of household names left unprotected is still staggering.


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If Seattle wants, it could have Price as the starter and Ben Bishop or Braden Holtby as the backup, as well as a defence that includes Mark Giordano, P.K. Subban and Tyson Barrie, with Vladimir Tarasenko, Gourde, Eberle and Jeff Skinner up front.

Or, if they want to go in another direction, they could choose rookie Kaapo Kahkonen, Vitek Vanecek and Chris Driedger as the goalies, with Weber, Vince Dunn, Jake Bean, Erik Johnson and Shayne Gostisbehere on defence, and with a forward corps that includes Bailey, Killorn, Adam Henrique and Max Domi.

Or, they could grab some of the many pending free agents who were left unprotected, which includes Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, Boston’s Taylor Hall and Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.


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Before you break out your calculator and determine if those rosters would be cap compliant, the point is that there are options. Far too many to list here.

Whichever way they choose to go, it appears that the Kraken could be in a better spot than the Golden Knights were when they entered the league four years ago. And that’s before teams start sending prospects and picks to Seattle so that GM Ron Francis won’t poach them of certain players — or before this Friday’s NHL Entry Draft, where the Kraken hold the No. 2 overall pick.

In other words, don’t be surprised if the Kraken enter the league as immediate championship contenders.

Whether they are as good as the Vegas team that won the Pacific Division and went to the Stanley Cup final in its inaugural year is yet to be seen. But with so many star players to choose from, Seattle could end up taking away a playoff spot from Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver.


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As NHLtoSeattle tweeted on Sunday, “I honestly really like our team…and we haven’t even drafted yet.”

Indeed, it pays to be an expansion team these days. This is not like it was back in 2000, when the Columbus Blue Jackets ended up selecting goalie Rick Tabaracci with the first pick, followed by Minnesota taking goalie Jamie McLennan.

At the same time, Seattle might not be in as advantageous a spot as Vegas was in 2017.

One of the things former Golden Knights GM George McPhee did so well in the expansion draft was orchestrate deals that allowed teams to keep their players in exchange for a draft pick or a prospect. By not taking Anaheim’s Josh Manson, for example, Vegas ended up with Shea Theodore. It also received Erik Haula and Alex Tuch in exchange for not selecting Minnesota’s Eric Staal, and picked up Reilly Smith as a thank you for not selecting Florida’s Jonathan Marchessault, as well as William Karlsson for staying away from Columbus’ Alex Wennberg.


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You’d have to think that those general managers have since learned from their past mistakes. But with teams allowed to only protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie — or eight skaters, regardless of their position — there’s only so much they can do.

“Teams knew we were coming and they’ve had four years to prepare,” Francis told reporters on Saturday.

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Francis has also said that ownership has given him the “green light” to spend to the cap, so it’s possible that the Kraken end up with a combination of Price ($10.5 million), Tarasenko ($7.5 million) and Giordano ($6.75 million), and as well tries to sign Hamilton and Landeskog. It’s also possible that with generational prospects’ Shayne Wright and Conor Bedard highlighting the 2022 and 2023 NHL drafts, the Kraken will take a more patient approach and build slowly with younger players.

Either way, with the No. 2 overall pick in the entry draft and so many players to choose from in the expansion draft, Seattle could be among the favourites to win the Stanley Cup. And the Kraken haven’t even set foot on the ice yet.

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