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Seattle Expansion Draft Series: Article 24 - Reaction to Expansion Draft

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2021 NHL Expansion Draft Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome back to our Seattle Expansion Draft Series.

It’s over. The players all leaked hours before the draft started. And I can’t watch it live, even though I pay for ESPN+, so this is very on brand for the NHL.

Because I can’t watch it, I’m going to write this as a recap of what we learned today, as opposed to the presentation of the actual show.

(UPDATE: I wrote an additional section at the end after finishing this and going to bed and seeing people reacting on Twitter)

Although I did see this on Twitter, and I do have to put this in here because....well, this is awesome:

I wonder if they did a bunch of different names so the octopus wouldn’t leak the name to Frank Seravalli.

So anyway, I’ve seen a lot of people in media grading the draft or doing analysis based solely on the players we learned about throughout the day. I don’t think it’s possible to grade the draft yet, since we don’t yet know which players are going to be traded to other teams in the near future, who Seattle is going to sign in free agency, etc.

Supposedly there are some side deals to report during this show, so I’m going to add reaction to those in here as they become available. UPDATE: Never mind! Tomorrow after the trade freeze is over at 1pm? Last time they announced them during the expansion draft.

Seattle valued cap space with many of their picks. There are at least a handful of players they selected who are at or near league minimum. It’s definitely interesting that as of now their starting goalie would seem to be Chris Driedger, who is a very promising goaltender, but one with a relatively small amount of NHL experience.

Vitek Vanacek was another goalie that was on a lot of mock drafts. He also has a lot of potential, but without a proven NHL track record.

As of now, they have some solid defensemen in Haydn Fleury, Adam Larsson, Mark Giordano (rumored to be traded potentially likely not going to be traded since he was there in person) , Jamie Oleksiak, and Vince Dunn. Detroit selection Dennis Cholowski could play better in a new environment.

One thing that is concerning is that they have signed Oleksiak to a contract for 5 years at about 4.6M AAV. That’s a lot, and I’m glad Detroit didn’t sign that contract, even though I wanted them to look at Oleksiak.

On the forward end, they already have some very good forwards in Yanni Gourde, Jordan Eberle, and Calle Jarnkrok, and selections that have a lot of potential in Jared McCann, Mason Appleton, Joonas Donskoi, and Morgan Geekie. Their forward corps, however, is underwhelming compared to what people were predicting, so it’ll be interesting to see what changes are made between now and opening night.

OK, so it’s 9:00 and I haven’t heard anything about side deals yet. I’m hoping for something new to put here, dammit! :)

While I was waiting, I dug out my running list of all the things that Dave Hakstol looks like:

A teacher at Hogwarts whose subplot got cut because test audiences didn’t care
The Assistant Manager at the last Blockbuster Video
The guy on the team in a Mission Impossible movie who dies in the opening sequence.
The dad of one of the Cobra Kai kids in a Karate Kid remake.
The third brother of Owen and Luke Wilson’s characters in the Royal Tenenbaums
The second choice for the guy in The Last Jedi who yells at Kylo Ren a lot.
One of the parents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who can’t control his awful child.

If Mr Garrison and Tilda Swinton had a child.

I guess the aren’t flipping Giordano because he is there in person.

There’s 4 minutes left in this broadcast, and no trades have been announced, so I’m guessing we won’t get them tonight.

So at least for now that’s a wrap on the Expansion Draft Series. Maybe there were no side deals, even though there was a lot of reporting today that there were? I’ll see when we find out more and decide if another article makes sense.

UPDATE: When I was finishing this up, there were conflicting reports about trades. It seems like Seattle did not make any trades with teams to influence the players they took, which many people are having a hard time understanding. Why did they pick Player A when Player B was available?

That’s completely understandable, and it’s entirely possible that they made mistakes picking players. Vegas likely could also have had an even better team with the choices they had available. At least on paper.

Many of the names that people are pointing to have very low cap hits. Remember that many of the players Vegas drafted never played a game for the franchise. For starters, a NHL roster for the regular season is 23 players. They currently have 31 players (they signed a player a while back). Not everyone signed is going to play for them.

That also means that while it’s a natural thing to want to do, trying to figure out where a drafted player slots in Seattle’s lineup is a waste of time right now. They drafted 12 defensemen. Clearly some of them are getting traded. So for example, Dennis Cholowski could be traded. He could also see people who would be ahead of him right now on the depth chart be traded.

I think, and I could of course be wrong, that some of their selections were specifically because of the league minimum (or close to it) cap hit. It looks like they are building up a load of cap space that could be used to acquire more free agents once the period opens on July 28. Remember that they were able to talk to any unprotected players, so they have a leg up on knowing what players are looking for.

They could also be holding onto some of that cap space so they can use it later.

Again, it could be that they made giant mistakes! NHL GMs make a ton of mistakes. They keep signing goalies to long term deals, they keep giving term to non-core players, etc.

I’m just saying that in my opinion, as someone who not only wrote this series, but was one of two people who did a similar series for the Vegas expansion draft, that I think it’s a good idea to breathe, and to wait and see what else they do. The trade freeze ends at 1pm today, and there could be trades for Vegas to announce.

That’s why you won’t see a grade here. I learned my lesson from the Vegas draft, and while I don’t think that this team will be as good as Vegas right off the bat (in no small part because other teams didn’t gift them a ton of free assets in side deals like they did with Vegas), I think the opening night team will look better than it does now, possibly substantially better. I think it is too early to evaluate their picks. I know that won’t stop people, but that’s where I’m at right now.

Regardless, thank you for following this series. Now, it’s time to get ready for the entry draft on Friday night!