The Seattle Kraken might be able to land themselves a gem or two of a player in the 2021 NHL Expansion draft Wednesday the way the Vegas Golden Knights did in 2017, but I don’t see that coming at the expense of the Edmonton Oilers.
In 2017, the Golden Knights got Jonathan Marchessault from Florida – the Panthers actually traded forward Reilly Smith and a pick to Vegas so they’d take Marchessault — and they got Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh, who sent them a second-round pick to take The Flower. Marchessault has been a key player for Vegas since and Fleury has been a Vezina Trophy winner and, essentially, the face of the franchise.
With the protected lists of teams for the Seattle draft submitted on Saturday and to be released later today, we don’t know, as of this writing, what the Oilers list will look like for sure. I expect GM Ken Holland and the Oilers to go 7-3-1. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto are locks for five spots. Best bet is Zack Kassian and Josh Archibald round out that group.
On the blueline, Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear and Duncan Keith, by virtue of his NMC, will be protected. Adam Larsson hasn’t come to terms on a new contract, at least “officially,” so he won’t be on the protected list. None of the Oilers’ top blueline prospects, like @Evan Bouchard and Philip Broberg, are eligible to be drafted by Seattle. As far as goaltenders, I expect Stuart Skinner to be protected.
I don’t see an unprotected forward among Edmonton’s eligible players to be drafted to match Marchessault, who was coming off a breakout 30-goal season in Florida when Vegas drafted him. Is Tyler Benson that guy? Nope. I certainly don’t see a Fleury lurking in Edmonton’s system ready to be a starter, let alone win a Vezina.
On the back end, might Seattle be willing to roll the dice on Oscar Klefbom, who’ll probably be on LTIR to start this coming season and might be done after another surgery on his shoulder? It’s possible, but highly unlikely. Is there a cornerstone prospect waiting to blossom among the rest? Again, possible, but unlikely.
Looks like slim pickings here.
THE ENTRY DRAFT
The 2021 Entry draft is a month later than usual this season and comes on the heels of the expansion draft with the first round on Friday. For the second year in a row the draft is being done remotely. Barring a trade, the Oilers will select 20th — listed as 20th but actually 19th with Arizona’s forfeited pick at 11th.
Mock drafts are a lot of fun as fans and pundits try to figure out who is going where, but the reality is they usually go sideways in a hurry when one team or another inevitably takes a prospect higher than they’re projected to go, or they go off the board completely – whatever happened to Jesse Niinimaki?
Once that happens, everything changes. I covered a dozen or so entry drafts at the dailies and my mocks were always toast before the top-10 picks were done. The 2002 Entry draft comes to mind. Jay Bouwmeester, the consensus No. 1 pick, ended up going third to Florida after Columbus Blue Jackets GM made a deal to get the first pick from the Panthers and used it to take Rick Nash from the London Knights.
There’s a handful of mock drafts I put value in and the first that comes to mind is at MyNHLDraft.com. They’ve got the Oilers taking Swedish right winger Simon Robertsson. You can see what their panel of prognosticators says about Robertsson here. I know the Oilers have an interest in towering Edmonton Oil Kings’ goaltender Sebastien Cossa, but the panel has Cossa going 13th to Chicago.
Over at NHL.com, writers Adam Kimelman and Mike Morreale have Cossa available when the Oilers pick and both think they’ll take him. If Cossa is there, absolutely. I just think he’ll be gone by the time the Oilers pick – unless they move up to get him.
We’ll get Holland’s take this week, but he won’t be showing his cards, which is standard procedure. We’ll be getting the BPA pitch from Holland and chief scout Tyler Wright.
WHILE I’M AT IT
- Of 11 players Edmonton protected for the 2017 expansion draft, only five remain with the organization. Still here – Draisaitl, Kassian, RNH, Klefbom and Larsson. Gone – Jordan Eberle, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Andrej Sekera and Cam Talbot.
- After Vegas claimed @James Neal from Nashville in 2017, he scored 25 goals – his 10th season with 20-or-more goals. Neal helped Vegas make the Cup final vs. Washington with 6-5-11 in 20 post-season games. With two years left on a deal with a $5.75 million AAV, he’s available again. Nevermind . . .
- Many outlets I read believe the Oilers will lose Jujhar Khaira or Benson from their pool of unprotected players. Having 30 picks, the Kraken don’t have to hit on every player they take. We and they know what Khaira’s top end is, so maybe they take a flyer on Benson.
- Mark Spector of Sportsnet tweeted yesterday afternoon that he expects the new contract for Larsson to come in at 4x$3.9 million, ahem, if/when it’s announced.
Previously by Robin Brownlee
- Rolling the Dice…
- Getting the Ink Done
- The Hungry Wolf
- Everybody Has One
- Off the Top of My Head
- The C-Word