ESPN’s triumphant return to full-time NHL coverage was set to launch last night with the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft was dashed by the torpedo of Frank Seravalli leaking just about every pick with daring accuracy hours before the event. While ESPN, the NHL and the primary sponsor Upper Deck cannot be happy with the actions of yesterday, the draft choices themselves left much to be desired. For the NHL, leaving such a large gap between the final submission of picks and the actual draft itself proved to be a
The Kraken dolled out an impressive party at Seattle’s Gasworks Park featuring big names key to Seattle sports such as Sue Bird, Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton and Marshawn Lynch. The special features tied to the community like the aquarium, the market and Climate Change Arena itself with Kevin Weekes were a terrific way to pay homage to the city that will be home of the Kraken. While the event and stage were a terrific affair, the lack of action and diversion from the leaked picks earlier doused much of the ‘fanfare’ for those watching.
On the draft front, The Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft had by far a much better cast of available players than the Vegas Golden Knights had in 2017 for their draft. Big names like Gabriel Landeskog, Vladimir Tarasenko to name a few were available yet left undrafted.
Instead, the Kraken opted for a solid defensive group and a solid depth forward group. With the lack of high end scoring and top tier talent on the roster however, one had to imagine trades were in play. While none were announced during the draft, the speculation and reports point towards just that happening today. Paired with the fact that the Kraken have over $28M in available cap space, one has to assume the team will be making a splash in free agency. The majority of drafted players for the Kraken fell far from the expected mock drafts including most of our own. Our Pair at the Point’s draft had the closest number of players picked with 6 of the 30 and many could argue the final rosters picked are far better than the final product we saw last night.
This is not to say there are not solid pieces that have been added barring any trades of those to the roster. Players like Yanni Gourde, Jordan Eberle, Brandon Tanev and Jared McCann are all great pieces to add to any NHL roster. Furthermore on the backend, Mark Giordano, Jamie Oleksiak, Jeremy Lauzon, Carson Soucy and Vince Dunn give them a solid defensive setup. In net, the Kraken were gifted a layup with Chris Dreidger and while many were looking for the big splash of Carey Price to go, it made absolutely no sense for the Kraken to take that gamble. One also needs to keep in mind that 11 of the players picked by the Golden Knights never played a game for the club. That is very likely to be the case again here.
Oddly though, the Kraken passed on sure fire captain and top line winger Gabriel Landeskog. While reports were that negotiations were being made, one has to assume the numbers were just too high for the Kraken to go otherwise it makes absolutely no sense to pass on him. The passing on both Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen speaks more to the terrible contracts and lack of value GM Ron Francis and his staff felt otherwise one of them surely would have been picked. Finally but not the only odd omission left was passing on Nino Niederreiter or even Jordan Martinook.
One thing for certain is that now with the NHL roster freeze effectively over, moves should be aplenty going into and during the NHL Entry Draft weekend. Otherwise this roster will certainly leave a lot to be desired from the top.