Seattle Kraken Mock Draft: Will Carey Price land in the Pacific Northwest?

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TAMPA, FLORIDA - JULY 07: Goaltender Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the third period of Game Five of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on July 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Florence Labelle/NHLI via Getty Images)
Despite Carey Price's health concerns, the Kraken are reportedly seriously considering selecting the Canadiens goaltender. (Getty Images)

We only needed a single expansion draft in the salary cap era to learn that whipping up a mock draft is a fool's errand. When the Vegas Golden Knights poached players from the then-existing 30 franchises only four summers ago, they made the public look foolish twice, choosing a team that failed to resemble any of even the most thoughtful projections, and then managing to achieve immediate success despite many of us mocking their team. 

Fortunately, not one group made out worse than the collection of competing general managers, who committed a series of mistakes that allowed the Golden Knights to emerge as a league power in less than a half decade.

This event is designed to make professionals and prognosticators look incredibly ill-prepared to complete the duties of the job.

With that in mind, here's what the Seattle Kraken could but definitely won't look like after Wednesday's Expansion Draft.

Headline selections

Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens 

I suppose the big question is: how much of what we're hearing is posturing? It seems more than a little coincidental that Montreal immediately floated the idea that its face-of-the-franchise netminder's health is a major issue — and that he may miss an extended period of time next season — after it was reported that the Kraken were legitimately contemplating the idea of selecting Price once the Canadiens rolled the dice by protecting veteran backup Jake Allen. Apparently Seattle will do a thorough investigation into Price's health, and if what it finds belies the Canadiens' claims, I see every reason for the Kraken to chase the asset. Yes, Price fails to meet the value on his $10.5 million contract through regular season performance alone. 

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However, this is precisely the sort of athlete an organization should want to front its franchise from its inception. He has the pedigree, he has the values, he still has immense talent and superstar status as proven throughout the Canadiens' run to the Stanley Cup Final. With the options as is, Seattle can hand-pick an elite goaltending duo, choosing a backup that best fits Price's needs at this point in his career, while still maintaining financial flexibility and an ability to weaponize cap space despite his hefty ticket. 

Also, consider this: Seattle GM Ron Francis's greatest failure in his time with the Carolina Hurricanes was landing a dominant goalie. It seems with Price he's had one delivered on a silver platter.

Yanni Gourde, F, Tampa Bay Lightning

This one seems close to unanimous. As much as there is available to Seattle from the two-time defending champion Lightning, Gourde seems like the prized asset. At 29, Gourde might be a little more advanced in age than folks might expect, but his ability to anchor highly-influential utility lines in the last two postseason runs appears too enticing to pass up. Gourde carries more value than other options that include Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Washington-native Tyler Johnson; now will the Kraken slot him in their lineup or flip him for a team desperate for what Gourde can provide?

Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames 

I'm skeptical that Giordano still has the ability to be a dominant defenseman in the league, but a captain, recent Norris Trophy winner, and a healthy earner checks the boxes in terms of headlining selections. With little to choose from with Calgary, the best move here might be to choose and trade Giordano, though he does have no-movement protection. If not, he can eat up major minutes right away for a team that will be hard-pressed to find top-pairing defenders through the expansion process — at least immediately.

Max Domi, F, Columbus Blue Jackets 

You aren't building an expansion franchise around Domi. You do, however, need some players that can moonlight in positions higher into the lineup until you can acquire and develop the foundations in which the team will be built upon. Columbus has very little to offer, so a Domi reclamation project doesn't seem to be a terrible idea.

Chris Driedger, G, Florida Panthers 

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Seattle could have league-best goaltending, or close to, from jump if it's Chris Driedger insulating Price in a 60-40 split. Driedger excelled in an unconventional backup role for the Panthers last season, fashioning a .927 save percentage in 23 appearances. Both cost and player control is an issue, as Driedger is an unrestricted free agent, but it shouldn't cost an exorbitant price to select, keep, and properly slot Driedger into the equation.

James van Riemsdyk, F, Philadelphia Flyers 

After going back and forth between van Riemsdyk and Vladimir Tarasenko as options for a higher-earning selection which likely doesn't stick around too long but can assist in several ways, I ultimately sided with JVR. Turning down both may be the right call, but the rest of Philadelphia's options weren't intriguing, at least to the same extent as St. Louis's. JVR figures to be a real asset on the power play and could be a trade chip down the road.

Josh Bailey, F, New York Islanders 

There were intriguing futures assets exposed by Lou Lamoriello, but Bailey is too good of a player to pass up. He has solid, but unspectacular offensive totals, but is smart and structured enough to improve the functionality of any top-six unit. His exposure should present the Kraken with options.

Jared McCann, F, Toronto Maple Leafs The situation around McCann is fascinating. Toronto spent very little to acquire the very useful forward from the Penguins, but chose to leave him unprotected. On one hand, if all the Leafs lose in the expansion process is the price of McCann— a mid-level prospect and a seventh-round pick — it seems very palatable. And yet, they have opened themselves up to losing a player who could very well be a difference maker for them next season, while instead protecting a journeyman and asset whose performance falls off the table when not attached at Jake Muzzin's hip in Justin Holl. Seattle takes McCann, because it would be foolish not to, in turn infuriating Leafs fans, despite the team paying a very minimal expansion price all things considered.

J.T. Compher, F, Colorado Avalanche 

Compher seems like the sort of player who could survive the inevitable changes throughout Seattle's salad days, and be a solid, middle-six contributor for the expansion franchise for a very long time. It would be something if they could pair Compher with Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog in free agency.

Troy Stecher, D, Detroit Red Wings 

Stecher stands out from the mediocre offering from the rebuilding Red Wings as a player who will deliver on value, whether it's eating significant minutes in the inaugural season or being moved to a team looking for a capable and cost-effective right-shot defender.

Whole squad

Jared McCann, Max Domi, Josh Bailey
Calle Jarnkrok, Yanni Gourde, J.T. Compher
James van Riemsdyk, Chris Tierney, Christian Fischer
Zach Aston-Reese, Dylan Gambrell, Colin Blackwell
Blake Comeau, Nathan Bastian, Carl Grundstrom, Kole Lind

Mark Giordano, Dylan DeMelo
Brenden Dillon, Troy Stecher
Carson Soucy, Vince Dunn
Connor Clifton, Colin Miller, Nikita Zadorov, Haydn Fleury, Jake Bean

Carey Price,
Chris Dreidger
Alex Stalock

Notes

  • Seattle could, without question, draft better high-end players; Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene and Vladimir Tarasenko are each available. However, GM Ron Francis is adamant that financial flexibility is paramount. Assets which will eat away at that expansion luxury, while also being unlikely to live up to their price tags, seem off the table. This will be a balanced lineup until it can be a top heavy one.

  • Gourde and Bailey are the only long-term commitments up front, with three and four seasons left on their respective deals. It's possible that Domi, JVR, Tierney, Jarnkrok and Comeau could bring back assets quickly as unrestricted free agents after one or two seasons.

  • McCann, Gambrell (a Washington native), Fischer, Aston-Reese are established players on restricted free agent deals, and therefore legitimate pieces in place for future seasons. Blackwell is soon-to-be unrestricted, but fits in this category as well.

  • Bastian, Lind, and Grundstrom are a few of the reasonably intriguing prospects made available through the process, and therefore decent gambles with little to choose from with New Jersey, Vancouver, and L.A., respectively. 

  • Seattle has a chance to build up on a very valuable currency, which is NHL-ready defenders. It's possible that from the 11 selected, there are several who emerge as impact players for the long-term. Jake Bean and Haydn Fleury come to mind as recent Francis draft picks from their time in Carolina. Most of these players, however, are just as valuable as trade chips. Giordano, Dillon, DeMelo, Soucy, Clifton, Miller, Zadorov, and even Stecher appear to be options for Seattle or players that can be moved out to attract future foundational pieces. Francis should be able to build a solid defense corps and land other assets through the selection on the back end alone. 

  • Few goaltending duos are better on paper than one that includes Price and Driedger. Goaltending is the great equalizer, and Seattle's should keep the team competitive in Year 1.

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