The Chronicle Herald (Metro)

Kraken leave Price, other stars on cutting room floor

- MICHAEL TRAIKOS

With the first pick of the expansion draft, the Seattle Kraken selected cap flexibilit­y.

Oh sure, the 32nd team in the NHL ended up with Calgary's Mark Giordano, Tampa Bay's Yanni Gourde and a roster full of quality players who should make them competitiv­e right out of the gates. But Wednesday's expansion draft was more significan­t for who didn't get selected.

No Carey Price. No Vladimir Tarasenko. No James van Riemsdyk, P.K. Subban or Shea Weber.

All of them — and many other household names, including Evgenii Dadonov and Matt Duchene — were left on the cutting room floor as Seattle went with a different approach than Vegas did when it entered the league four years ago.

“Everyone knows how they did,” Jordan Eberle, who was one of the more high-profile picks, said of following in Vegas' footsteps. “Obviously, they set the bar pretty high for us.”

For Seattle, cap was king. So was term. And although the Kraken had a blank slate and the “green light” to spend towards the $81.5-million ceiling, GM Ron Francis was more conservati­ve as he stayed away from big-ticket players, such as Price ($10.5-million), Tarasenko ($7.5-million) and van Riemsdyk ($7-million) and locked up young, controllab­le assets.

Whether it leads to a playoff spot in Year One, or whether Seattle is positionin­g itself for the next two NHL Entry Drafts, where generation­al forwards Shane Wright (2022) and Connor Bedard (2023) are up for grabs, is anyone's guess. But on paper, it doesn't look like Seattle will be challengin­g for a Stanley Cup — much less a playoff spot — anytime soon.

If they were, they probably wouldn't have passed up on taking a five-time 30 goal-scorer in Tarasenko or a six-time 20 goal-scorer in van Riemsdyk. Nor would they have passed on Price. Or decided that Winnipeg's thirdline winger Mason Appleton was a better fit than top-pairing defenceman Dylan Demelo.

They weren't the only puzzling decisions that Francis made on a day when the drama of the draft was spoiled hours before the first selection was officially announced.

The leaks were inevitable. Though the expansion draft was held at 8 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, Seattle had to submit its selections early in the morning, meaning teams, players and their agents were all notified of the news hours before the live broadcast. For many of the players, including Buffalo's Will Borgen, who posted “Seattle bound!” on his Instagram page before deleting it, the secret was too big to keep under wraps.

After all, no one predicted this roster.

Instead of the 33-year-old Price, who would have been Seattle's version of selecting Marc-andre Fleury, the Kraken went with unproven journeyman Chris Driedger (Florida) as its No. 1 goalie, as well as rookies Joey Daccord (Ottawa) and Vitek Vanecek (Washington).

Gourde and Larsson, who signed a four-year contract to play in Seattle over Edmonton, are the only players who are signed beyond three years. Giordano is the only player earning more than $6-million. Eberle is the only player to have reached the 30-goal mark.

And yet, that doesn't mean Seattle didn't end up with some potential gems — or that they won't be busy in free agency, since they have spent only $54-million on the 21 players who are under contract for next season.

“I have a tremendous amount of faith in Ron Francis' ability to build a team,” said Driedger. “I'm excited about how things are going to piece together. I know this is the expansion draft, but I imagine that Ron's got some tricks up his sleeve. There's obviously going to be some trades and the UFA market, so we're going to be looking to see how things play out here in the next few weeks and even few months before we know what our roster looks like.”

 ?? DOUGLAS DEFELICE • USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price makes a save with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde screening him during the third period of Game 2 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. Gourde was selected by Seattle in the NHL expandsion draft while the Kraken passed on Price.
DOUGLAS DEFELICE • USA TODAY SPORTS Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price makes a save with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde screening him during the third period of Game 2 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. Gourde was selected by Seattle in the NHL expandsion draft while the Kraken passed on Price.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada