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Who Should Be The 30 Kraken Selections

Today is the day - the Seattle Kraken will select a player from each of the 30 original teams in the NHL (Vegas gets a pass) at 8pm EST. While there have been a few articles of this nature out already, none of them have the advantage of applying our patented stat of GDV (goal differential value) to help optimize selections.


A player's GDV isn't the only number to weigh in choosing from the list of exposed players, though. Contracts will play a big part in the decision making, as cap hit and term will help define the direction Seattle wants to go in.


As for team building strategy, there are many options the club can go in. Most players available to the Kraken are at least 23 years of age, so it will be tough to start with a completely young, new club. One way to combat this is to select players to flip for trade, but since I am not in negotiations with other general managers I will not be doing such for the purpose of this exercise.


Another strategy, which seems feasible based off of available players, is to attempt to build a playoff contending team off the bat. This route, whether purposely done or not, worked very well for the Vegas Golden Knights in building and promoting their team in a new hockey city. This is the path I'll head down here, as I talk through each decision team-by-team.


If you wish to save some time and just see the final roster, lineup, and projections, feel free to skip to the end of the article.


*All Goal Differential Values are listed on a per-60 basis


Anaheim Ducks

Selection: Alex Volkov

Age: 23

Contract: 925k, 1 year (RFA)

Projected Overall GDV: -0.24

Projected Even-Strength GDV: -0.29

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Sonny Milano, Kevin Shattenkirk, Danton Heinen, Haydn Fleury, Anthony Stolarz


Volkov was one of the last selections made in this exercise, but is listed here first because we're going in alphabetical order. He is one of the few selected with a negative GDV, but the Ducks don't offer much and we're banking on Volkov having a little more room to grow at 23 years old and he's cheaper cap hit.


Arizona Coyotes

Selection: Lane Pederson

Age: 23

Contract: RFA

Projected Overall GDV: 0.27

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.32

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Dryden Hunt, Christian Fischer, Josef Korenar


As I stated above, there's not much in terms of youth available and Pederson showed enough in a small sample size to warrant a selection from Arizona. The Coyotes are slim-pickings here, so this was a relatively easy choice as Pederson will probably agree to a 2-way deal and start in the AHL.


Boston Bruins

Selection: Nick Ritchie

Age: 25

Contract: RFA

Projected Overall GDV: 0.29

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.16

Projected Powerplay GDV: 1.83

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Karson Kuhlman, Curtis Lazar, Connor Clifton


Clifton warrants some consideration here because there's limited right-handed defensemen available, as does Lazar due to his versatility, but Ritchie gets the nod here. If I told Bruins fans a year ago that Ritchie was exposed and selected in expansion, there would probably be no love lost. However, Ritchie played very well last season, and established himself as a huge net-front asset on the powerplay.


Buffalo Sabres

Selection: William Borgen

Age: 24

Contract: RFA

Projected Overall GDV: 0.27

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.46

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Jake McCabe (UFA), Colin Miller, Zemgus Girgensons


You could argue that McCabe, Miller, and Girgensons would all be better options to help the team off the bat, but Borgen is the selection due to his upside and contract status. Miller and Girgensons are slightly overpaid for what they do, and McCabe's due for a hefty raise after establishing himself as one of the better defensive defensemen in the league.


Calgary Flames

Selection: Mark Giordano

Age: 37

Contract: 6.75M, 1 Year (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: -0.04

Projected Even-Strength GDV: -0.02

Projected Powerplay GDV: 0.82

Projected Shorthanded GDV: -1.09

Others Considered: Oliver Kylington


This is where the selections get interesting. Marketing the sport and getting your franchise acclimated to the city is a real thing, so plucking a big-name captain off a team's roster can prove to be very valuable. Giordano has been one of the better defensemen in the NHL over the past decade, and should provide the glue and leadership the team needs to hit the ground running.


Carolina Hurricanes

Selection: Jake Bean

Age: 23

Contract: RFA

Projected Overall GDV: -0.24

Projected Even-Strength GDV: -0.22

Projected Powerplay GDV: -0.65

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Nino Niederreiter, Morgan Geekie


Bean's GDV was not good in his first season in the NHL, so again we're taking into consideration his age, sample size, draft pedigree and contract status and taking a flier on him. It's no secret that Niederreiter is a bit of an analytics darling, but we made some other picks that prohibit taking on his contract.


Chicago Blackhawks

Selection: Nikita Zadorov

Age: 26

Contract: RFA

Projected Overall GDV: -0.22

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.11

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: -3.78

Others Considered: Calvin de Haan


Zadorov projects to have solid even-strength numbers again this season, so he can be an asset in the right role. It was really a toss-up between he and de Haan, with de Haan's contract being the deterrent.


Colorado Avalanche

Selection: Joonas Donskoi

Age: 29

Contract: 3.9M, 2 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: -0.04

Projected Even-Strength GDV: -0.04

Projected Powerplay GDV: 1.79

Projected Shorthanded GDV: -1.89

Others Considered: Gabriel Landeskog (UFA), Kiefer Sherwood, Jacob MacDonald


Donskoi wasn't quite the even-strength player he has been in the past last season, but was strong enough on the powerplay to still be a really useful player. His GDV projections back him as a selection is used properly. There was strong consideration to attempting to negotiate with Landeskog here, but I find it tough to believe he'll want to land with a brand new team.


Columbus Blue Jackets

Selection: Kevin Stenlund

Age: 24

Contract: 1.05M, 1 Year (RFA)

Projected Overall GDV: -0.04

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.22

Projected Powerplay GDV: -1.40

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Kole Sherwood, Dean Kukan, Max Domi


Stenlund's a case of where GDV comes in handy. His even-strength numbers were impressive in a bottom-six role for Columbus most of last season, playing both right wing and center. Domi, who most believe will be Seattle's selection, was deployed in a middle-six role with much worse GDV results. Given this and their respective contracts, swinging on Stenlund seems to have much more upside.


Dallas Stars

Selection: Nick Caamano

Age: 22

Contract: RFA

Projected Overall GDV: 0.15

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.18

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Jamie Oleksiak (UFA), Blake Comeau


It sounds like the Kraken may have been able to negotiate a deal with Oleksiak, which is a smart move. Still, Caamano is one of the few 22 year-olds available and the blueline will be cramped with left-handed defensemen. Given his projected GDV, he would still be my selection here.


Detroit Red Wings

Selection: Troy Stecher

Age: 27

Contract: 1.7M, 1 Year (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.15

Projected Even-Strength GDV: -0.05

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Christian Djoos, Evgeny Svechnikov, Danny DeKeyser


That right-handed defenseman shortage? It's addressed right here. Stecher is a steady bottom-two pair defenseman that is almost a no-brainer selection from the Red Wings. His GDV is teammate adjusted, but perhaps a better team around him should improve his overall numbers.


Edmonton Oilers

Selection: Oscar Klefbom

Age: 28

Contract: 4.167M, 2 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: n/a

Projected Even-Strength GDV: n/a

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: James Neal, Mikko Koskinen


Whomever is selected from Edmonton will seem like a favor to them, so Klefbom becomes an interesting selection for more than one reason. First off, he is still recovering from shoulder surgery and his status for this upcoming season is in question (hence the "n/a" GDV). When healthy, he is a very good player, though, and could be a key piece on the backend. I am anticipating he does not play in 2021-2022, and therefore can occupy a spot on the long-term injury reserve list, providing some cap relief.


Florida Panthers

Selection: Chris Driedger

Age: 27

Contract: UFA

Projected Goals Saved above Expected per 60: 0.42

Others Considered: Lucas Wallmark, Frank Vatrano, Radko Gudas


It is reported that the Kraken have agreed to terms with Driedger, and that is the right move here. Granted it's only 35 games, but Driedger has posted top-10 GSAx/60 numbers for two straight seasons. You just won't find a player like that available often through any other avenue.


Los Angeles Kings

Selection: Blake Lizotte

Age: 23

Contract: 800k, 1 Year (RFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.10

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.11

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: 0.15

Others Considered: Austin Wagner, Olli Maatta


The Kings have a slew of young centers in their system, which is probably why they viewed Lizotte as expendable. He's an easy selection here, as a 23 year-old, cost-controlled bottom-six center who is good both at even-strength and the penalty kill.


Minnesota Wild

Selection: Kaapo Kahkonen

Age: 24

Contract: 725k, 1 Year (RFA)

Projected Goals Saved above Expected per 60: -0.73

Others Considered: Nick Bjugstad, Carson Soucy, Victor Rask


Okay, so Kahkonen does not project well for next season. It's a weak goalie market in the expansion draft though, and we only have past statistics and aging curves to go off of. The aging curves for goalies are a little more staggered, as some of today's quality NHL starters didn't play their best until their late 20s. I like his contract here, and hope he can develop into a decent asset for the team.


Montreal Canadiens

Selection: Jonathan Drouin

Age: 26

Contract: 5.5M, 2 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.28

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.07

Projected Powerplay GDV: 2.61

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Tomas Tatar (UFA), Brett Kulak, Carey Price


Landing a deal with Tatar would be ideal here, and Price is rightfully considered for marketing reasons despite being vastly overrated, but ultimately I went with Drouin here. It is unknown what exactly spurred his decision to step away from the team at the end of last season, but Drouin's offensive talent is unquestioned. If he plays next season, he'd be a welcome addition to the top-six. If not, he can be placed on LTIR like Klefbom.


Nashville Predators

Selection: Matt Duchene

Age: 30

Contract: 8M, 5 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.28

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.34

Projected Powerplay GDV: 2.54

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Yakov Trenin, Calle Jarnkrok, Nick Cousins


The Predators are practically begging the Kraken to select one of their forwards, as they protected five defensemen. We oblige here, as Duchene is the biggest contract selected in this draft. The juice is worth the squeeze though, at least for the short-term, as his projected GDV numbers are some of the best among all available forwards.


New Jersey Devils

Selection: Nathan Bastian

Age: 23

Contract: 825k, 2 Years (RFA)

Projected Overall GDV: -0.22

Projected Even-Strength GDV: -0.18

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: -0.87

Others Considered: Andreas Johnsson, Marian Studenic, Will Butcher


The grit and toughness crowd will love this pick, as Bastian was near the top of the league last year in hits per 60 minutes played. He also provides shorthanded value, however, and still has two years left on his entry-level deal. For these reasons, he is too enticing to pass up.


New York Islanders

Selection: Jordan Eberle

Age: 31

Contract: 5.5M, 3 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.72

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.82

Projected Powerplay GDV: 0.47

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Thomas Hickey, Josh Bailey


Eberle was a surprise omission from the Isles' protection list, leaving Seattle a quality top-line winger to add to the team. His even-strength value is tops among all selections, and should be a key contributor in order to make an inaugural playoff push.


New York Rangers

Selection: Julien Gauthier

Age: 23

Contract: 775k, 1 Year (RFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.15

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.18

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Colin Blackwell


The Rangers' exposure list is pretty dismal, so it was a toss-up between Blackwell or Gauthier. Either one would likely start in the minors, so the younger Gauthier was the choice here.


Ottawa Senators

Selection: Evgeny Dadonov

Age: 32

Contract: 5M, 2 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.13

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.05

Projected Powerplay GDV: 1.02

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Michael Amadio


In another win-now move, Dadonov is the selection from the Senators. Based off their exposure list, nothing else was really considered. This helped mold the direction of the team selected.


Philadelphia Flyers

Selection: James Van Riemsdyk

Age: 32

Contract: 7M, 2 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.33

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.07

Projected Powerplay GDV: 3.21

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Shayne Gostisbehere, Jakub Voracek


Van Riemsdyk has been an elite powerplay asset for years now, and his projected positive even-strength GDV justifies taking on his rather large two-year cap hit. JVR solidifies the top-six and first powerplay unit.


Pittsburgh Penguins

Selection: Marcus Pettersson

Age: 25

Contract: 4.025M, 4 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: -0.13

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.31

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: -4.67

Others Considered: Frederick Gaudreau, Chad Ruhwedel, Mark Friedman, Casey DeSmith


Pettersson's shorthanded numbers aren't strong, but at even-strength, he is a bonafide top-four defenseman. Getting him with term helps stablize the blueline, which makes him the pick despite some pause on nabbing DeSmith in net.


San Jose Sharks

Selection: Ryan Donato

Age: 25

Contract: RFA

Projected Overall GDV: 0.15

Projected Even-Strength GDV: -0.25

Projected Powerplay GDV: 4.24

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Nicholas Meloche, Radim Simek, Alex True


San Jose's list doesn't offer much in terms of quality up front, but Donato is sort-of a one-trick pony with his powerplay effectiveness. For this reason, he earns a roster spot with limited even-strength usage.


St. Louis Blues

Selection: Vince Dunn

Age: 24

Contract: RFA

Projected Overall GDV: 0.01

Projected Even-Strength GDV: -0.17

Projected Powerplay GDV: 1.86

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Vladimir Tarasenko, Zach Sanford


Because we're not selecting and flipping assets in the trade market, Tarasenko is not the pick here. Dunn is valuable is his own right, and is worthy of a selection based on his powerplay ability alone.


Tampa Bay Lightning

Selection: Ondrej Palat

Age: 30

Contract: 5.3M, 1 Year (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.42

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.32

Projected Powerplay GDV: 1.86

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Alex Barre-Boulet, Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn, Ross Colton


By protecting four defeensemen, the Lightning have exposed a flux of quality forwards at the Kraken's disposal. Rumors are circulating that Gourde may be the selection here, which would be a great pick. As would Killorn. Barre-Boulet and Colton will likely fill the role of the key departure here, who in this case is the true best player available in Palat.


Toronto Maple Leafs

Selection: Jared McCann

Age: 25

Contract: 2.94M, 1 Year (RFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.79

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.77

Projected Powerplay GDV: 1.79

Projected Shorthanded GDV: n/a

Others Considered: Travis Dermott, Pierre Engvall


The McCann trade was a head-scratcher for the Leafs, as the did it just to leave him unprotected. This basically walks him straight to Seattle, as the Kraken would acquire a huge asset both at even-strength and special teams. Oh, and did I mention that he is team-controlled? This is an obvious selection. (And no, Alex Kerfoot does not hit the GDV radar here.)


Vancouver Canucks

Selection: Braden Holtby

Age: 31

Contract: 4.3M, 1 Year (UFA)

Projected Goals Saved above Expected per 60: -0.28

Others Considered: Zack MacEwen, Jayce Hawryluk, Matthew Highmore


The skaters on Vancouver's exposure list leave a lot to be desired, so Holtby is the play here. This gives Driedger a veteran on a one-year deal to tandem with, and hopefully that solidifies the crease for a playoff push.


Washington Capitals

Selection: Nick jensen

Age: 30

Contract: 2.5M, 2 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.14

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.30

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: -1.35

Others Considered: Conor Sheary, Brenden Dillon, Vitek Vanecek


Sheary and Dillon deserve some consideration, but Jensen is the pick here to add another quality right-handed defenseman. We actually end with two consecutive additions to the right side, so let's get right to the other.


Winnipeg jets

Selection: Dylan DeMelo

Age: 28

Contract: 3M, 3 Years (UFA)

Projected Overall GDV: 0.24

Projected Even-Strength GDV: 0.39

Projected Powerplay GDV: n/a

Projected Shorthanded GDV: -1.05

Others Considered: Mason Appleton


If the Kraken select Appleton, it will be a fine selection. DeMelo gets the edge here because he can eat up big minutes on defense and do it very effectively. At 28 years-old, he should be primed throughout the duration of his 3-year deal.


 


Final Roster

Center

Matt Duchene

Jared McCann

Kevin Stenlund

Blake Lizotte

Lane Pederson

Left Wing

Ondrej Palat

James Van Riemsdyk

Jonathan Drouin

Nick Ritchie

Ryan Donato

Nick Caamano

Right Wing

Jordan Eberle

Evgeny Dadonov

Joonas Donskoi

Nathan Bastian

Alex Volkov

Julien Gauthier

Left Defense

Mark Giordano

Oscar Klefbom

Marcus Pettersson

Vince Dunn

Nikita Zadorov

Jake Bean

Right Defense

Dylan DeMelo

Nick Jensen

Troy Stecher

William Borgen

Goaltender

Chris Driedger

Braden Holtby

Kaapo Kahkonen


Lineup

F1: PALAT - DUCHENE - EBERLE

F2: VAN RIEMSDYK - MCCANN - DADONOV

F3: RITCHIE - STENLUND - DONSKOI

F4: DONATO - LIZOTTE - BASTIAN

D1: GIORDANO - DEMELO

D2: PETTERSSON - JENSEN

D3: DUNN - STECHER

PP1: VAN RIEMSDYK - DONATO - EBERLE - DUCHENE - DUNN

PP2: RITCHIE - DONSKOI - MCCANN - PALAT - GIORDANO

PK1: LIZOTTE - BASTIAN - GIORDANO - DEMELO

PK2: MCCANN - DONSKOI - PETTERSSON - JENSEN

PK3: STENLUND - PALAT - DUNN - STECHER

STARTER: DRIEDGER

BACKUP: HOLTBY


Projected Standings Points: 94.94



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