With the playoffs all but out of reach for the Calgary Flames, it’s time to turn our attention to the Seattle Expansion Draft. The Flames will be losing one of their players this summer to the newly founded Kraken, and have some work to do still in order to prepare. Here is how it all works
The draft itself will be held in Seattle on July 21st, and teams have until July 17th to finalize their protected list. This gives the Kraken about 96 hours in which to finalize their picks for the draft itself, however they likely have some idea who will be available from each team already.
The Kraken must select one player from each team, except the Vegas Golden Knights, who do not have to expose anyone in the draft. This means they must select 30 players and must take a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defencemen, and three goaltenders. They can select a player on a contract that expires at the end of this season, but at least 20 of their players must be under team control through next season. On top of that, the combined salary of the Kraken must be at least 60% of the salary cap, meaning they must at least hit $48.9 million when all is said and done.
Expect the draft itself to be a spectacle in itself. With the team owned by Hollywood Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, expect The Kraken to pull out all the stops for the day of the draft. This will be an event to watch no doubt.
Who can be selected? Who can be protected?
Teams get to choose whether to protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie (7-3-1) or eight skaters and a goalie (8-1). Teams also have to protect any player with a full no-movement clause (NMC) that does not elect to waive that clause. For the Flames, that means that they have to protect Jacob Markstrom. Milan Lucic has waived his no-movement clause, allowing him to be exposed in the draft. Barring any trades, here is how the Flames’ decision will likely go:
Goalie: Jacob Markstrom
Defencemen: Chris Tanev
Unlikely but possible
Forwards: Milan Lucic
Likely to be exposed and under team control for next season
Goalies: Tyler Parsons
Likely to be exposed and NOT under team control for next year
Goalies: Louis Domingue
Why this breakdown?
The locks should come as no surprise. They comprise the Flames’ top five forwards, top two defencemen, and best netminder, who also has a full NMC. The Flames will likely also opt to protect both Mangiapane and Dube as their final two forwards, which should come as no surprise.
The big question for the Flames is on defence. They will need to decide between exposing Giordano, who is going into the final year of his deal, or Tanev, who had an incredible year this year but is signed for the next three seasons. We broke down both players, and it likely makes more sense to expose the Flames’ Captain given his age and current cap hit. It remains unlikely that the Kraken will opt to select the soon-to-be 38-year-old defenceman, and that the team will keep most of their top players going into next season.
Who is exempt?
Luckily for the Flames, the majority of their best prospects are exempt in the upcoming draft. Here is the full list.
|Mathias Emilio Pettersen|
The only name on this list that is a bit of a surprise in Juuso Valimaki, but given he did not play a single game last season, he has not reached the threshold to be exposed this season.
Who needs to be exposed?
In order to give The Kraken a chance to succeed, teams must expose a minimum of two forwards, one defenceman, and one goalie who are under contract and have played a minimum of 27 games this season or 54 games over the past two seasons.
This is a problem for the Flames currently. Assuming they expose Lucic up front, one of Tanev or Giordano, and Parsons in net, they still need one more player at forward. The easiest way to do this would be to re-sign one of their expiring forwards to a league-minimum deal in order to expose them in the upcoming draft. With Simon being an RFA, it would likely be easiest to keep him as the team has control in that situation. The problem is that the Flames would have to worry about what to do with him once he is invariably not claimed by the Kraken, but they do have the option of sending him to play with the Stockton Heat next season.
Here is one interesting wrinkle. If the Kraken select a player who has been paid a bonus on July 1st, they must then pay that bonus back to the team who paid it. For the Flames, this impacts Lucic, who has a $2.5 million dollar signing bonus on his contract for this season. If the Kraken opts to select Lucic, they will owe this money back to the Flames. Fortunately or unfortunately, Lucic is the only player for whom this applies.
The other interesting note for the Kraken is that they cannot take a player and then buy them out after the expansion draft. The earliest that they can buy out a player is at the end of the 2021-22 season. They could not say, claim a player like Lucic simply to buy him out this summer.
So, who will the Flames lose?
The way I see it, the Kraken have four choices depending on what they are looking for.
The least likely option is to select a leadership-type player like Lucic or Giordano. Given both of their immense cap hits and performance relative to age, not to mention Lucic’s performance bonuses, it just does not seem like a move that the Kraken would make.
The one player I think may make most sense for Seattle to select, but is somewhat out of the box is Oliver Kylington. Good defencemen are hard to find, and a smooth-skating defenceman who has not gotten good looks in Calgary this season may make sense for the Kraken. Similar to Victor Mete in Montreal, there seems to not be room for him with the Flames, and with Connor Mackey jumping up the depth chart, the Kraken may see an NHL-ready defenceman with lots of upside right in front of their nose. While he will need a new contract at the end of the season, he likely won’t command much more than his $787,500 salary. At 23, Kylington still has a fair bit of runway and has the tools to be a strong middle pairing option for the Kraken in a year or two. Not a bad find.
The scarier option for Flames fans would be to lose Matthew Phillips. While he is a smaller player, he is one of just a handful of right shot wingers in the organization. He led the Stockton Heat in points this season and seems poised for a look at the NHL level. A small skilled forward, Phillips has the potential to be a top-six winger in the NHL in the coming seasons and has incredible offensive ability. The big question for Phillips is whether he can translate his AHL success into NHL success, but he has excelled at every level of hockey he has played, so the odds are in his favour. The Flames have yet to give him an NHL look, but with who the Flames are currently exposing, Phillips may be the best player available for the Kraken to take.
Finally, an off-the-board pick for the Kraken would be for them to take impending UFA Derek Ryan. A Washington native and an excellent bottom-six centre would be a win-win for the Kraken. This would be a similar move to when the Vegas Golden Knights took Deryk Engelland, a player who played for the local ECHL team and resided in the city. Like Engelland, Ryan would be a fan favorite and a character player for the franchise, without costing them too much to re-sign. The Flames would definitely miss their current fourth line centre, but would benefit by not losing one of their younger players.
What does it come down to?
The Flames still have a lot of work to do before the Seattle Expansion Draft on July 21st. Not only do they need to finalize their protected list, but they also have to ensure they sign a forward to expose in the draft. One way or another, they are going to lose someone from their organization, which is going to hurt a little, but some players that they have to expose will hurt a lot more than others. This expansion draft is going to be very interesting to watch.