Seattle Kraken will select some of the NHL’s biggest names as they pick their opening team on Wednesday.
Clubs across the league struggled to maintain their presence with last-minute moves on Saturday. The flurry of activity did not surprise Kraken general manager Ron Francis.
“The teams knew we were coming and they had four years to prepare,” he said, as the rosters were frozen ahead of the expansion draft.
Despite the deals, Seattle has plenty of options for stocking its locker room. Take a look at some of the talents Kraken can grab from Canadian teams:
The biggest name on the Flames’ vulnerable roster is captain Mark Giordano. The 37-year-old defender played his entire 15-season career for Calgary and won the Norris Trophy in 2019 as the league’s best blueliner. However, his offensive production dropped with 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 56 games. games last season. Giordano’s contract is one year away with a $6.75 million hit to the US border.
The Oilers have left both starting goalkeepers out in the open, but Mike Smith’s fate is already uncertain as the 39-year-old set will be an unrestricted free agent next week. Smith was a star for Edmonton last season, averaging 2.31 goals and .923 saves in the regular season, setting a 21-6-2 record. Meanwhile, Mikko Koskinen’s deal with a $4.5 million cap hit is one year left. The six-foot-seven Finn had mixed success with the Oilers last year, including an average of 3.17 goals and a 13-13-0 record with a .899 save percentage.
Carey Price is one of the biggest names available for Seattle. The 33-year-old waived the trade ban clause to get on the unprotected list, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Five years until the end of All-star netminder’s average $10.5 million annual deal. Price proved his worth in the playoffs last season, leading Habs to the Stanley Cup Finals with a 13-9-0 average of 2.28 goals and .924 save percentage. Recent reports on his health may raise questions about whether netminder will be eligible to play next season.
Montreal left several other high-profile players unprotected, including unrestricted free agent forwards Phillip Danault and Corey Perry, and left winger Paul Byron with two years left on his contract. Captain Shea Weber is on the list, but the 35-year-old’s future remains uncertain due to a number of reported injuries.
Sens chose to keep a few of its young stars safe and had to expose Evgenii Dadonov in the process. The 32-year-old Russian right winger scored 20 points (13 goals, 7 assists) last season and is two years away from his contract worth an average of $5 million per year. Goalkeeper Matt Murray is also on Ottawa’s vulnerable list after battling for a 10-13-1 record last year, averaging 3.38 goals and .893 saves.
Toronto Maple Leaves
Toronto was one of the clubs to take advantage of roster shortages in other markets on Saturday, taking in 2023 forward Jared McCann from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick. He had 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) last season, but the Leafs left McCann open to Seattle.
Vancouver also did some work leading up to Saturday’s roster freeze, taking on Jason Dickinson from the Dallas Stars in this week’s entry draft in exchange for a third-round pick. Unlike the Leafs, the Canucks chose to keep their new assets.
Goalkeeper Braden Holtby was among the players left out by the club. The 31-year-old had a tough season with the Canucks, finishing with a 7-11-3 record, 3.67 goals average and .889 save percentage. But Holtby has previously reached highest heights in hockey, winning the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalkeeper in 2016 and capturing the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018. Netminder’s contract may be prohibitive – it comes with the only year remaining on his deal he hit a $4.3 million cap but Holtby still has a $5.7 million salary.
In addition to unrestricted freelancers Paul Stastny, Derek Forbort and Mathieu Perrault, the Jets exposed 25-year-old forward Mason Appleton. The six-foot, 193-pound center racked up 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 56 regular season games last year and added three more (one goal, two assists) in eight playoff games. Appleton has one year left on his deal with an affordable $900,000 cap hit.
Winnipeg defender Dylan DeMelo is also present. The 28-year-old isn’t the most offensive player with nine assists in 52 regular season games last year, but he also had 20 penalty minutes and averaged 16:58 in ice time.