The 2021 National Hockey League Expansion Draft came and went last week as the Seattle Kraken assembled the first draft of their roster. In total, 31 players relocated and the vast majority of them (at least for the time being) can call Seattle, Washington home.
Two of those players selected at the draft were all-action centerman Yanni Gourde and powerful defenseman Jamie Oleksiak. Let’s dive in and take a more comprehensive look at what both Gourde and Eberle bring to the Kraken.
Yanni Gourde, Center, Age 29
There aren’t many players in today’s NHL who can have hoisted Lord Stanley’s mug in back-to-back seasons. Gourde, formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning, is one of those players. Man, oh man, do the Kraken ever have themselves a dandy in the form of Gourde.
As a player, Gourde is the complete package and the type of player any GM, coach, or owner would love to have. He’s one of those guys who visibly loves the game, is a fantastic teammate, and does whatever he can to help his team win. Listed at 5’9, 172 pounds, Gourde has the engine of a locomotive, and certainly plays bigger than his underwhelming stature would suggest.
When he’s on the ice, he’s an absolute dynamo on each and every shift. All-action, feisty-you name it, the Saint-Narcisse-de-Beaurivage, Quebec native does it all. His versatile skill set, penalty-killing ability, and well-rounded game should have fans of the Kraken salivating.
Last season in Tampa saw Gourde post 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 56 games. His 0.64 points-per-game went along with a plus-10 rating in 17:04 worth of ice time under head coach Jon Cooper. Gourde is the key cog in one of hockey’s most lethal and effective third-lines centering Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman. It goes without saying that this is a fantastic acquisition by Kraken GM Ron Francis and the rest of Seattle’s front office.
Jamie Oleksiak, Defenseman, Age 28
Next up on the docket is Toronto-born defenseman, Jamie Oleksiak. Right from the start, it seems that Francis is keen on building a strong and versatile defense core. Well, hockey fans, it doesn’t get much bigger than Oleksiak. Listed at 6’7, 255 pounds, Oleksiak is an absolute tower of power on the Kraken blue-line.
As a player, he’s intelligent, moves the puck well, and is a smooth skater for a man of his stature. Teams, executives, and fans alike often mention the phrase “tough to play against” when talking about successful NHL franchises. With Oleksiak logging big minutes on the Kraken blue-line next season, you can certainly say that again.
Last season in Dallas saw Oleksiak skate in 56 games tallying 14 points in 20:29 worth of ice-time. Although the Stars missed the playoffs, Oleksiak was one of their most consistent performers. He also garnered a lot of interest during last season’s trade deadline, but ultimately ended up staying in Dallas. After previous stints in both Dallas and Pittsburgh, Oleksiak is ready to take his talents to Seattle with hopes of helping the Kraken build a winner.
After selecting Oleksiak, Francis wasted little time “locking up” his defensive stalwart to a $23 million/5-year contract ($4.6 million average annual value). A solid start, to say the least, for the NHL’s shiny new toy. Francis wanted to “hit the ground running” on expansion Draft day with tons of people in attendance in Seattle. He nailed it, and then some with the Oleksiak deal.
One final question remains – Who’s ready to see the Seattle Kraken take the ice?
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images