According to Pierre LeBrun and Ryan Clark of The Athletic, teams around the NHL are starting to contemplate their plans for the NHL Expansion Draft, which includes reaching out to the newest NHL franchise and trying to swing a deal. Not every team will need Seattle to go a certain direction, but some teams will explore the idea of of working with the Kraken to specifically pick or specifically ignore certain names. LeBrun and Clark have pegged six early candidates as teams to watch in that regard.
Among them, the two scribes like the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.
The Hurricanes and Dougie Hamilton
When it comes to the Hurricanes, LeBrun believes Dougie Hamilton will be the name to watch here. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent and will have a short window of time in which he can sign an exclusive deal with Seattle, should he so choose. LeBrun believes there might be interest there and the Hurricanes are expected to wait until after the NHL Expansion Draft to work on a Hamilton extension so that they can ensure they protect Jake Bean, “along with no-brainers Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce.”
Oilers and Klefbom
Clark suggests the Oilers will need to make a decision on Oscar Klefbom and we’ve gone into great detail about his health and how this could affect GM Ken Holland’s decision to protect a player who just came out of career-threatening surgery. He suggests the Oilers have “braced for that by developing prospects Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg and Dmitri Samorukov.”
There’s no telling how Seattle feels about taking a potential injured top-two defenseman but if Klefbom appears healthy, he’ll be an attractive piece.
The Avs and Their Defense Corps
The Avalanche have a number of defensemen they’d like to protect and that could mean a trade with another team or Seattle. The expectation is that the front office thinks it will not be an issue to get veteran defenseman Erik Johnson to waive his no-movement clause. Doing that allows them to protect Devon Toews.
But there are still questions the Avalanche must answer. The Avs have not yet decided which protection format to use and it’s not an easy decision considering any choice leaves a combination of Ryan Graves or Jacob MacDonald exposed. They also have Gabriel Landeskog’s deal to worry about and re-signing him right away means changing their protection plans.
Panthers and Chris Driedger
In Florida, the name to watch is pending UFA netminder Chris Driedger. “It really comes down to whether the Kraken covet him as one of their netminders and, if so, how to go about getting him.” LeBrun writes, “I think Panthers GM Bill Zito no question will approach the Kraken at some point, if he hasn’t already, about Florida signing the goalie for Seattle so that it can take him in expansion.” If Seattle wants Driedger, how the Kraken try to acquire him, while also potentially picking up another player from the Panthers will be interesting.
Wild and Lightning
The Wild will start asking players to waive their no-move clauses and they have two attractive pieces in Cam Talbot and Carson Soucy that could potentially be at risk and the cap-strapped Tampa Bay Lightning could try and sell off Tampa’s first-round pick in the 2022 draft in exchange for committing to taking Tyler Johnson in the expansion draft.
Not the Only Teams That Will Need to Make Decisions
Just looking at these six teams, you can see how differently each club could be affected by the expansion draft and how unique a situation is for Seattle to really land some quality pieces and take advantage of some teams in tough to protect all the pieces they’d like to.
Of course, these aren’t the only six teams that will be dealing with similar questions. In fact, there are probably more teams than not who have tricky decisions to make and it might be worth calling Seattle to see what can be worked out.
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