With the Stanley Cup Playoffs starting today here are some players to watch that could be wearing Kraken jerseys in our inaugural season.
Pittsburgh Goalie Situation
If the expansion draft were to happen this summer, Pittsburgh would have a tough decision to make between who to protect and who to expose in the draft, Tristan Jarry or Matt Murray. Murray played the majority of the games this year, starting 38 out of the 69, but had a career low .899 save percentage. He got to start in 4 of the last 5 games before the pause, but head coach Mike Sullivan has refused to name the game one starter. Jarry had a higher save % of .921 compared to Murray’s .899 save %. The expansion rules state that a team can only protect one goalies. If we assume the Penguins do not trade one of these goalies before the trade deadline next season, one of them will be exposed. Pittsburgh is not afraid to use two goalies in the playoffs and they are certainly not afraid to hold on and expose a goalie going into an expansion draft.
The quiver of talent in St. Louis Blues
Sammy Blais, Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev, and Justin Faulk. (I am forecasting Schenn, Schwartz, Kyrou, Sundquivst, Thomas, O-Reilly, Tarasenko for forwards & Pieterangelo, Parayko, Dunn for defensemen will be protected). Good chance 2 or 3 of them are exposed in the expansion draft and and that is a pretty good lineup to choose from. If pending UFA Alex Pietrangelo does not resign this offseason, the Blues will probably protect Faulk. There are scenarios where the Blues could expose a higher salary forward and protect the likes of Blais/Sanford/Barbashev, but then that could mean picking from Schenn, Sundqvist, and Tarasenko. All those guys are expected to play and if St. Louis wants to put another run together so we should get a lot of opportunity to see these guys play.
Calle Jarnkrok, Craig Smith, and Rocco Girmaldi. If Calle Jarnkrok is exposed, how does a team named the Kraken not draft him on name alone? Ok, in all seriousness, I love this crew of players. They are playing down the line up a bit, so getting more opportunity on the ice will help those guys could shine.
The young guns in Carolina
Morgan Geekie (21yo), Jake Bean (21yo), and Hayden Fleury (24yo) are likely to be exposed to Seattle’s Expansion Draft next summer. All of them are tracking to become every day NHLers and they could be a good opportunity to get some young blood on the Seattle squad. They might not start on the Hurricanes squad when the playoffs begin, but if the Canes move past the qualifying round, then you should expect one or two of them to step in should there be injuries. It will be hard to draw many conclusions from the small sample size of ice time and games, but hopefully we get a glimpse of their capabilities.