Seattle Kraken: Looking Back at the Expansion Draftby Carter LaCorte January 21, 2022 0 comments
We are just about at the halfway point of the 2021-22 season, which means that it is time for overreactions, where many of them could be true! For the Seattle Kraken, their inaugural season has left us with the potential to clown all over them. After the Golden Knights nearly won the Stanley Cup in their first season, Seattle was handed the opportunity to be competitive out of the gate. And they have completely butchered it.
After a 2-7-1 record in their last ten and just one win in regulation, the Kraken sit in the basement of the NHL, with only the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens having a worse winning percentage. With how bad this season has gone, there are several expansion draft decisions that look like crucial mistakes right about now. Let’s look at some of those.
Did the Kraken Take the Wrong Blueshirt?
The Kraken went with Colin Blackwell from the New York Rangers, who has recorded six points in 16 games for them. Meaning, Tony DeAngelo was there. Hold on, hear me out before you get really mad. In fairness, it would have made no sense to select the troubled DeAngelo, who would have his contract bought out just days later. Since the Carolina Hurricanes seem to have tamed DeAngelo, a defenseman with 28 points in 29 games this season, this should at least be recognized. Still, there was no reason for Seattle to pick him at the time, so hard to truly fault them.
Passing on Vladimir Tarasenko
This is the most obvious answer on this list. The Russian superstar was coming off multiple shoulder surgeries and had not done much since winning the Cup in 2019. With his 7.5 million dollar cap hit, the Kraken went elsewhere, taking now-former St. Louis Blues’ defender Vince Dunn, which easily could end up being a good decision in the future. Dunn has tons of potential, but Tarasenko has been a monster this year.
Returning to his old self, Tarasenko has started as a point-per-game player in 2021-22, with 35 in 35 games. Of those 35 points, 14 are goals. That would lead the Kraken in points and trail just Jared McCann in goals by one. With Tarasenko looking like a star once again, Seattle has to have some regret now.
Being Cheap With Philly
Looking to “weaponize” cap space, General Manager Ron Francis decided to be extremely conservative with his picks, opting for as little of a hit as possible. The best example of this could be with his Head Coach, Dave Hakstol’s former team, the Philidelphia Flyers. The pick was Carsen Twarynski, a forward with ten points in 33 AHL games this year.
Among the notable players available were James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, and Shayne Gostisbehere. At 4.5 million dollars and coming off a down season, it made sense at the time to pass on Gostisbehere, who the Flyers had to attach a second-round pick to so they could unload his salary. He has 24 points in 38 games on defense for Arizona. van Riemsdyk, a proven scorer, has not had the best first half, with ten goals in 39 games.
The third option was Voracek, who carries an 8.25 million dollar cap hit. He has 24 assists in 34 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets, becoming their candidate for the last man in All-Star voting. If you noticed that the Blue Jackets are not the Flyers, that is because he was traded at the entry draft for Cam Atkinson, a cheaper player with 15 goals and 14 assists in 39 games this year. All of those options seem better than Twarynski.
Surprises in LA
This one is a bit dumb, as the pick from the Los Angeles Kings was physical defender Kurtis MacDermid, who was flipped to the Colorado Avalanche for a late-round pick. Right there in front of them was Kings legend Jonathan Quick. Before I get into the season stats, a quick disclaimer that goaltending is random. Philipp Grubauer was a Vezina finalist last year and has been horrible after signing with the Kraken.
Meanwhile, Quick is having a renaissance season. Through his first 23 games, he had a .929 save percentage. Then the Sharks blew him up for six goals on 17 shots. Once again, goaltending is random. Quick is down to a .915 save percentage now, which is good. This is a situation that would never have happened, but still, one to consider.
A Devilish Mistake
The pick from New Jersey was Nathan Bastian, who the Kraken recently waived and was claimed right back by the Devils. So, they ended up getting nothing. On the table was Andreas Johnsson, who has scored 21 points in 36 games this year. The real sin here is less of not picking Johnsson and more of losing Bastian right back to the Devils for nothing.
Total Loss of Value for Kraken
The final category is a broad one. The Kraken decided to make a couple of picks that completely backfired. Firstly, they selected goalie Vitek Vanecek from Washington. They traded him back to the Capitals for a second-round pick. The Capitals were laughing as they got two second-rounders for defenseman Brenden Dillon, who was left unprotected. Seattle decided to punt with their Chicago Blackhawks and Blue Jackets’ selections, picking John Quenneville and Gavin Bayreuther, respectively. Both were free agents. Quenneville went to Switzerland while Bayreuther signed back with the Blue Jackets.
Also available from Chicago was Calvin de Haan, who they could have flipped instantly. The rental defenseman will likely receive a mid-round pick in return for him this deadline season. Cheap defender Dean Kukan also easily would receive some sort of a draft pick in return. The fact that there are three glaringly obvious examples of expansion draft failure this early on when the Kraken are in the basement is scary. The next expansion team, whenever that may be, should take some notes.
Follow Carter LaCorte on Twitter @CarterHudBlog
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