Expansion Draft Trade Ideas for 5 Non-Playoff NHL Teams

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2021

Expansion Draft Trade Ideas for 5 Non-Playoff NHL Teams

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    On April 30, the Seattle Kraken officially joined the NHL. They can sign free agents before their debut season (2021-22) and make trades ahead of the July 21 expansion draft.

    Prior to April 30, general manager Ron Francis wasn't allowed to swing any deals leading up to this year's April 12 trade deadline. However, he acknowledged having had discussions with his soon-to-be NHL counterparts.

    On May 12, NHL.com's Bob Condor speculated Francis and his staff could be speaking to teams about side deals. Those moves would involve stipulations about the Kraken selecting or not selecting certain unprotected players during the expansion draft. In return, they could receive draft picks, prospects or NHL players.

    The Vegas Golden Knights took a similar route as part of their roster-building in the summer of 2017. Those deals included acquiring Alex Tuch and Erik Haula from the Minnesota Wild, William Karlsson from the Columbus Blue Jackets and Shea Theodore from the Anaheim Ducks.

    A team could also offer up draft picks to Francis as incentive to select a certain player on their unprotected list. That's what the Pittsburgh Penguins did in the 2017 expansion draft, sending a 2020 second-round pick to the Golden Knights for taking on the contract of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

    Francis will operate under the same rules as the Golden Knights did four years ago. He could wait until the playoffs are over before he starts wheeling and dealing. However, he could also swing a deal or two with some of the 14 teams that failed to qualify for the 2021 NHL playoffs.

    Here are some trade ideas for five NHL teams hoping to protect key players in this summer's expansion draft.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

    The trade: The Anaheim Ducks ship the fifth-round pick originally belonging to the Edmonton Oilers in this year's draft to the Kraken for future considerations. In return, the Kraken agree not to select Alexander Volkov or Sam Steel in the expansion draft.

    Volkov, 23, was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 25. A skillful winger with a good shot, he could be a good long-term fit with the young core the Ducks are building up. Fellow 23-year-old Steel is a playmaking center the Ducks selected in the first round of the 2016 draft.

    Anaheim general manager Bob Murray could be reluctant to lose Volkov or Steel. However, he can only protect one of them. Offering up that extra fifth-round pick might convince the Kraken to pass over Volkov or Steel in favor of someone such as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, center Derek Grant or winger Sonny Milano.

    Kraken management could take a page from the Golden Knights' playbook and stockpile as many draft picks as possible. Some of them could be used to build up their prospect pool, while others could be used as trade chips.

Calgary Flames

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    Larry MacDougal/Associated Press

    The trade:The Flames send the 2021 third-round pick acquired from the Edmonton Oilers to the Seattle Kraken. In return, the Kraken agree not to select Flames captain Mark Giordano in the expansion draft.

    On May 20, the Calgary Sun's Wes Gilbertson reported Flames general manager Brad Treliving could leave Giordano exposed in the expansion draft. While the 37-year-old is still the Flames' top defensemen, Gilbertson believes they must protect younger, cheaper rearguards such as Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev.

    Most teams protect three defensemen in the expansion draft. Treliving has the option to protect four, but he would still risk losing a decent blueliner under that scenario.

    Gilbertson also reported Treliving and Giordano talked about that possibility. The Flames captain acknowledged the situation, anticipating more discussions with his GM in the near future.

    Exposing Giordano would be a gamble for Treliving. He would be betting the Kraken will pass on the Flames captain because of his age and his eligibility for unrestricted free-agent status in 2022.

    Offering up a third-draft pick to the Kraken could ensure they consider other options on Calgary's unprotected list. One could be veteran winger Milan Lucic, who told Sportsnet he had let Treliving know he's willing to waive his no-movement clause if it would allow the Flames GM to protect another player (h/t NHL.com).

Dallas Stars

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    Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

    The trade: The Dallas Stars send a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft to the Seattle Kraken. In return, the Kraken select goaltender Anton Khudobin.

    Replacing sidelined starter Ben Bishop in last year's playoffs, Khudobin backstopped the Stars to their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years. The 35-year-old was in the starter's job throughout this season while Bishop recovered from knee surgery.

    Khudobin will be left unprotected because Bishop has a no-movement clause. Under expansion draft rules, he cannot be exposed in the draft unless he waives that clause. There's no indication the Stars have asked Bishop to waive it or that he intends to do so.

    The Stars promoted Jake Oettinger to back up Khudobin in Bishop's absence. The 22-year-old rookie enjoyed a promising debut, with a record of 11 wins, eight losses and seven overtime losses, a 2.36 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. With Bishop expected to return next season and Oettinger looking NHL-ready, Khudobin could become the odd man out.

    The Stars could leave Khudobin exposed with the expectation the Kraken will select him. However, he struggled at times this season, with a record of 12-11-7, a 2.54 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. That could make Kraken management reluctant to select an aging netminder carrying a $3.3 million cap hit for the next two seasons. Offering that draft pick could make him more enticing.

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The trade: The Philadelphia Flyers ship a fourth-round draft pick or a minor league player to the Kraken. In return, the Kraken select defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.

    Gostisbehere was the subject of trade speculation over the past two seasons. A finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as one of the league's best rookies in 2015-16, the 27-year-old has struggled in recent years. A skillful offensive blueliner, Gostisbehere might regain his form with another team.

    Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher could attempt to shake things up after his club's disappointing performance this season. With $69.2 million invested in 17 players, he needs to shed some salary if he plans on making additions to his roster. Getting rid of Gostisbehere's $4.5 million annual average value over the next two seasons would be a step in the right direction.

    Fletcher could also leave winger James van Riemsdyk exposed in the expansion draft. While he might make a more tempting target for the Kraken than Gostisbehere, his $7 million cap hit through 2022-23 could scare them off.

    Gostisbehere's contract would be easier to absorb for the Kraken than Van Riemsdyk's, but they could still seek a sweetener to take it on. They could be tempted by a fourth-round pick or perhaps a minor leaguer with some NHL experience such as Connor Bunnaman or David Kase.

Vancouver Canucks

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    Nick Didlick/Associated Press

    The trade: The Vancouver Canucks trade Zack MacEwen to the Seattle Kraken for future considerations. This would be the return for the Kraken selecting Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby.

    Signed by the Canucks as a free agent to a two-year contract in October, Holtby was brought in as a backup and mentor to young starter Thatcher Demko. Many people assumed he would also be left unprotected in the expansion draft and snapped up by the Kraken.

    A one-time Vezina Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion with the Washington Capitals, the 31-year-old endured the worst season of his NHL career. He finished with just seven wins in 21 games, a bloated 3.67 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. While Holtby has a year left on his contract with a $4.3 million cap hit, he will earn $5.7 million in actual salary.

    If Holtby doesn't include the Kraken on his four-team no-trade list, Seattle could take a chance on the goaltender regaining his former Vezina Trophy form next season. However, his stock is low because of his struggles this season. So if the Canucks hope to move his contract, they might have to offer something to entice the Kraken into selecting him.

    MacEwen, 24, could become a trade chip if Canucks management decides to shake things up following their disappointing season. The 6'3", 205-pounder is a versatile checking-line forward who can play center or wing. He's under contract for next season at an affordable $825,000 cap hit, becoming a restricted free agent next summer.


    Regular-season stats via NHL.com. Additional info via CapFriendly and PuckPedia.