The time for NHL teams to determine who will be protected is over, which means the Seattle Kraken front office can officially start piecing together their roster for the 2021-22 season.
There were certainly some surprises from certain NHL franchises, which will make the July 21 event must-watch television for a number of fanbases.
Here are the most intriguing players left exposed to the Kraken.
G Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Age: 33 / Cap Hit: $10,500,000 x 5 years
After being the driving force for the Montreal Canadiens’ run to the Stanley Cup final, it’s a little shocking to see general manager Marc Bergevin expose Carey Price to the Kraken, creating a scenario that invites the possibility of Price never playing for the Habs again.
But, of course, this will all depend on how willing Seattle is to assume the netminder’s exorbitant contract. With an impressive .924 save percentage in the playoffs, Price showed that when he’s on his game, there are very few goalies better than him. The issue with Price, however, is that he’s posted a save percentage better than .910 just once over the past four regular seasons, making his lofty cap hit a bit of a gamble for the Kraken’s front office. A player of Price's pedigree, however, would be a major marketing asset to a team looking to attract fans in year one.
LW Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
Age: 28 / Cap Hit: UFA
In a very shocking turn of events, the Colorado Avalanche couldn’t come to terms on a new contract and have left captain Gabriel Landeskog unprotected. This means the Kraken have exclusive recruiting rights to the 2011 second-overall pick ahead of the NHL’s July 28 start date for free agency.
With its exclusive bargaining rights, Seattle has until Wednesday to ink Landeskog to a contract, and landing someone like the Avs forward would be a major get. At 28, he’s still in the prime of his career and has been a relied upon contributor for Colorado, netting 75 goals and 171 points over the past three seasons. The leadership he could bring to a franchise in its infancy is also a major draw, as Landeskog has been the captain of the Avalanche since he was 19 years and 286 days old, making him the second-youngest captain in NHL history.
RW Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Age: 29 / Cap Hit: $7,500,000 x 2 years
It’ll be a potentially precipitous ending for Vladimir Tarasenko with the St. Louis Blues. The Russian scorer has played just 34 games over the past two seasons while dealing with multiple shoulder ailments. Once a player that pulled off five-straight 30-plus goal seasons, there are concerns that Tarasenko’s best days are behind him, even at just 29 years old.
While his cap hit is certainly on the higher side, the fact that there’s just two years left on the deal could be enough for the Kraken to take a chance on Tarasenko. If he is able to return to form, that contract could wind up being a nice value, but that’s a pretty big ‘if’ at this point.
C Jared McCann, Toronto Maple Leafs
Age: 25 / Cap Hit: $2,940,000 x 1 year
Jared McCann not being protected by the Toronto Maple Leafs is extremely puzzling considering the team literally traded for the centre on Saturday. Immediately, he becomes the most intriguing member of the Maple Leafs available to the Kraken, a move that doesn’t reflect strongly on the organization.
At 25, McCann is entering his prime. In 2021-22, the 2014 first-round pick showed well. He finished with the highest goals-per-game (.33) and points-per-game (.74) marks of his career. Picking largely from players approaching or past 30 years of age, McCann is an intriguing, younger option for the Kraken.
LW Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning
Age: 30 / Cap Hit: $5,300,000 x 1 year
Ondrej Palat was given heightened responsibilities this past regular season, filling in on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first line while Nikita Kucherov missed all 56 games. The Bolts were rewarded for their trust in Palat, as the 2011 seventh-round pick recorded 15 goals and 46 points — averaging 0.84 points-per-game, tying a career-best mark. He remained on Tampa’s first line en route to the team’s second-straight Stanley Cup during the postseason.
While Palat certainly benefited from playing with the likes of Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos, he’s proven that he can be an effective talent both offensively and physically. Since becoming an everyday NHL player in 2013-14, the Czech has dished out 930 hits, placing him 41st amongst all forwards during that span.
LW James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers
Age: 32 / Cap Hit: $7,000,000 x 2 years
Buried in a pretty forgettable season for the Philadelphia Flyers was a nice little campaign for James van Riemsdyk. The veteran forward posted a 0.77 points-per-game mark, the highest of his career. Additionally, he finished with 26 assists, the most he’s recorded in a season since 2016-17 when he was still a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
At this point, van Riemsdyk probably won’t return much value on his cap hit, but last year’s performance showed that he can still be an effective player.
C Yanni Gourde, Tampa Bay Lightning
Age: 29 / Cap Hit: $5,166,666 x 4 years
The Lightning are certainly an intriguing team for the Kraken to target in the expansion draft. It’s important to remember that Seattle must select one player from each team, but there are a number of solid options to choose from when it comes to the defending back-to-back champs.
Most of the other forwards on this list are wingers while Gourde is a centre, something that could push him up the team’s priority list. His 0.64 points-per-game during the 2020-21 season was the second-best mark of his career, but the middleman is mostly known for getting under the opposing squad’s skin. Gourde’s ability to agitate and compete could help make the Kraken a hard team to play against.
D Cal Foote, Tampa Bay Lightning
Age: 22 / Cap Hit: RFA
Being in an organization absolutely loaded with defensive talent, ice time in the NHL has been hard to come by for Cal Foote. The 2017 first-round pick has played 35 games in the big leagues, with all coming this past season. Foote was limited to just 12:53 in average time-on-ice in his appearances with the Lightning in 2021-22, something that would certainly increase if he were to join the Kraken.
Foote is a defenseman that can hold his own at both ends of the ice, as evidenced by his 59 points across two campaigns in the AHL and a 57-point year with the Kelowna Rockets in the Western Hockey League. With it being a relatively weak group of defensive players to choose from, Foote may be the player Seattle poaches from the Bolts.
RW Jordan Eberle, New York Islanders
Age: 31 / Cap Hit: $5,500,000 x 3 years
Jordan Eberle was left unprotected by the New York Islanders, making him a potential option for Seattle. Eberle’s offensive totals have mostly dipped since the forward joined the Isles, but that can be excused by the fact that he’s part of a defense-first New York team led by Barry Trotz. If Eberle were to join the Kraken, it wouldn’t be shocking if he returned to being a 20-25 goal-scorer.
His contract isn’t egregiously bad, and I don’t think it’d get in the way of Seattle adding Eberle to the squad.
D Vince Dunn, St. Louis Blues
Age: 24 / Cap Hit: RFA
Seattle will have a difficult decision to make when it comes to selecting a player from the Blues. Both Tarasenko and Vince Dunn are available, putting a number of factors into play. Position scarcity will certainly be important to consider for the Kraken, as the pool of available defensemen certainly isn’t as fruitful as the list of unprotected wingers.
Dunn has shown flashes of stellar play in the offensive zone for St. Louis, but overall consistency and responsibility at the defensive end of the ice has lacked from his game. He was benched by head coach Craig Berube this past season and his name has swirled around in trade rumours in the past. Dunn’s proven to be a talented, yet volatile, player. The upside may be worth taking a risk on.
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