Last time the NHL held an expansion draft, the Edmonton Oilers walked away fairly unscathed. The Vegas Golden Knights selected Griffin Reinhart, a player who struggled to keep employment in the NHL. Essentially, it was a pick that, at worst, the Oilers looked back and wondered why they ever traded for Reinhart in the first place. This coming expansion draft, it doesn’t appear the Oilers are going to be so lucky.
Allan Mitchell of The Athletic took a look at what might the game plan might be for the Oilers as the Seattle Kraken join the NHL. Noting that it’s not totally clear whether or not the Oilers will go the 7-3-1 (seven forwards, three defenseman and a goalie) or the 8-1 (eight skaters and one goalie) route, either way, the team is exposed.
While all of the really important pieces aren’t at risk of going anywhere, the Kraken might pluck a depth forward with some potential from the group, or grab a young prospect defenseman — the forward option being more likely.
Mitchell believes the Oilers will go the 8-1 protection route, suggesting the team believes protecting the extra forward is more important for the Oilers than the fourth defenseman. Even if that’s the case, Mitchell notes there’s a decent list of players available to Seattle.
The five best include Jesse Puljujarvi, Dominik Kahun, Zack Kassian, Kyle Turris, and William Lagesson. Lagesson is the only defenseman Mitchell believes would draw interest.
Who Is the Most Likely to Be Selected?
Noting that Puljujarvi could play so well he becomes a must-protect option, Mitchell explains when it comes to the Finnish winger:
If he turns into a strong NHL player on any of the top three lines, the team will have addressed a prominent position from a mid-level talent pool. Puljujarvi’s contract is very good (he’ll have one year left at $1.175 million and be an RFA at that time) and he is just 22.
But, just because Puljujarvi has the highest project ceiling, doesn’t mean he’s a lock to be selected.
The Oilers signed Kahun this offseason to a one-year deal that will see Kahun become an RFA this summer with arbitration rights. He’s being brought in with the hopes he could find chemistry as No. 2 line player. If he does, his $975,000 cap hit in 2020-21 will be a steal and he’s surely going to draw attention from the Kraken.
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