TRAIKOS: Price or Weber: Who will Seattle pick in the expansion draft?

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If you were starting an expansion team, would you rather have Carey Price as your starting goalie or Shea Weber as your number 1 defenseman?

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Of the three, would you like Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn or Ondrej Palat? What about Matt Duchene or Ryan Johansen? Jordan Eberle or Josh Bailey?

As for the Seattle Kraken, which will take the first steps to become the 32nd team in the NHL this year with Wednesday’s expansion draft, the options seem endless.

On Sunday, the other 30 teams in the league submitted their protected rosters of players who are not available for draft (Vegas, who entered the league in 2017, is exempt from the expansion draft). And while some have rearranged their closets to avoid losing players – Toronto acquired Jared McCann from Pittsburgh, while Nashville traded Ryan Ellis to Philadelphia in exchange for Philippe Myers – the number of unprotected household names is still staggering.

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If Seattle so wishes, he could have Price as a starter and Ben Bishop or Braden Holtby as a substitute, as well as a defense that includes Mark Giordano, PK Subban and Tyson Barrie, with Vladimir Tarasenko, Gourde, Eberle and Jeff Skinner up front. .

Or, if they want to go in another direction, they could choose rookie Kaapo Kahkonen, Vitek Vanecek and Chris Driedger as goalkeepers, with Weber, Vince Dunn, Jake Bean, Erik Johnson and Shayne Gostisbehere on defense, and with a forward corps. which includes Bailey, Killorn, Adam Henrique and Max Domi.

Or, they could catch some of the many pending free agents who have been left unprotected, including Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, Boston’s Taylor Hall, and Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.

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Before you pull out your calculator and determine if those lists would conform to the cap, the point is, there are options. Too many to list here.

Whichever path they choose, it looks like the Kraken could be in a better position than the Golden Knights when they entered the league four years ago. And that’s before teams start sending hopes and picks to Seattle so GM Ron Francis doesn’t debauch them from certain players – or before the NHL Draft this Friday, where the Kraken hold the second pick. in the general classification.

In other words, don’t be surprised if the Kraken enters the league as an immediate contender for the championship.

It remains to be seen whether they are as good as the Vegas team that won the Pacific Division and went to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year. But with so many star players to choose from, Seattle could end up snatching a playoff berth in Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver.

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As NHLtoSeattle tweeted on Sunday, “Honestly, I really like our team… and we haven’t even drafted yet.

Indeed, it pays to be an expansion team these days. It’s not like in 2000, when the Columbus Blue Jackets picked goaltender Rick Tabaracci with the first pick, followed by Minnesota goalie Jamie McLennan.

At the same time, Seattle may not be in as good a position as Vegas was in 2017.

One of the things former Golden Knights general manager George McPhee did so well in the expansion draft was orchestrate deals that allowed teams to keep their players in exchange for a draft pick. or hope. By not taking Anaheim’s Josh Manson, for example, Vegas ended up with Shea Theodore. He also received Erik Haula and Alex Tuch in exchange for not selecting Eric Staal from Minnesota, and Reilly Smith as a thank you for not selecting Jonathan Marchessault from Florida, as well as William Karlsson for stepping away from ‘Alex Wennberg of Columbus.

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You have to think that these CEOs have since learned from their past mistakes. But with teams allowed to protect just seven forwards, three defenders and a goalie – or eight skaters, whatever their position – there’s little they can do.

“The teams knew we were coming and they had four years to prepare,” Francis told reporters on Saturday.

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Francis also said the property gave him the ‘green light’ to spend all the way to the cap, so it’s possible the Kraken could end up with a combination of Price ($ 10.5 million), Tarasenko (7.5 million) and Giordano ($ 6.75 million), and is also trying to sign Hamilton and Landeskog. It’s also possible that with generational outlook Shayne Wright and Conor Bedard highlighting the NHL drafts in 2022 and 2023, the Kraken will take a more patient approach and slowly build with younger players.

Either way, with the No.2 pick in the draft and so many players to choose from in the expansion draft, Seattle could be among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. And the Kraken hasn’t even set foot on the ice yet.

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