How the NHL's latest signings, trades and buyouts impact the Kraken expansion draft

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The Athletic 17 July, 2021 - 03:18pm 17 views

When do NHL teams have to protect players?

Important dates before the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft This runs through Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. Teams are also required to have their protected lists in by 5 p.m. ET to the NHL and NHLPA. Sporting NewsWhen is the NHL Expansion Draft? Date, time, rules & more for Seattle Kraken team selection

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Silver Seven 17 July, 2021 - 01:00am

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NHL draft 2021 rankings: Top 50 prospects in the class, plus scouting reports

ESPN 17 July, 2021 - 01:00am

The Tampa Bay Lightning just wrapped up their second straight Stanley Cup championship, but attention now turns to the offseason. First up is the Seattle Kraken expansion draft on July 21. Then we'll have the entry draft, which will be held virtually on July 23 (Round 1) and July 24 (Rounds 2-7). Round 1 will be broadcast on ESPN2, while Rounds 2-7 will be broadcast by the NHL Network.

There is a lot of uncertainty with this year's class due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shortened the seasons for many leagues; in the case of the Ontario Hockey League, it wiped the season out completely. As a result, there will likely be some widely varied opinions on a number of players, so be prepared for some surprises early on in the selection process.

Here is the final ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2021 NHL draft class, from Owen Power on down.

Age: 18 | Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 213 | Shot: L

By general consensus the cream of this year's draft crop, Power is both massive and can move extremely well. That combination in a player doesn't present itself too often. By no means the most graceful skater, the Mississauga, Ont. native still gets around at a high pace, thanks to his powerful strides. A solid two-way defenseman, Power can both contribute to the scoresheet and help keep his own net empty, as made evident by his recent appearance at the IIHF senior men's world championship. He controls and passes the puck well and has a dangerous shot.

Then there's the reach -- effective in stripping opponents -- that naturally accompanies his large frame. Heightened maturity and on-ice hockey IQ only enhances the defender's more obvious attributes. Power makes good choices on the fly, far more often than not. Once he learns to truly unleash all that his physical makeup has to offer, look out. The current Wolverine is a top-pair NHL defenseman in the making. Probably soon.

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NHL teams shuffle before Seattle Kraken expansion draft

Yahoo Sports 17 July, 2021 - 01:00am

Teams around the NHL spent the week shuffling their rosters to prepare for the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft

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Before 30 NHL teams release the list of players available for the Kraken, many of them are shuffling the deck to make sure they're in good position for the Seattle expansion draft.

Rather than losing Ryan Graves, Colorado traded him to New Jersey. Rather than worry about whether 2020 playoff hero Anton Khudobin would get snapped up, Dallas took goaltender Ben Bishop's suggestion to expose him instead. Rather than trading or risking the Kraken nabbing defenseman Matt Dumba, Minnesota bought out Ryan Suter and Zach Parise for the expansion draft and other reasons.

"It was a contributing part of the decision," Wild general manager Bill Guerin said. “We get to protect two more players.”

From players waiving no-movement clauses to GMs making trades and exercising buyouts, this week has been all about preparing for the expansion draft. Protected lists are due Saturday, the Kraken reveal their picks at the expansion draft Wednesday and the rest of the league isn't standing idly by waiting to see what happens.

“We’re looking at everything,” Philadelphia GM Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday. “It’s an exciting time in a sense that with the Seattle expansion draft, with the flat (salary) cap, you might see maybe a few more trades, a few more hockey trades throughout the week.”

Out of Fletcher's crystal ball came the Avalanche's trade Thursday night that sent Graves to the Devils for young forward Mikhail Maltsev and the 61st pick in the regular draft. A 6-foot-5 defenseman who's only 26 and signed for two more years, Graves almost certainly would've been Seattle-bound and now can be protected by New Jersey, which had plenty of protection spots available.

With the 2017 Vegas expansion draft a cautionary tale and the goal of losing as little talent as possible this time, each move happening right now involves some strategy to guard against Seattle. Some moves are more selfless than others.

Bishop, who missed all season recovering from knee surgery, went to GM Jim Nill to offer to waive his no-movement clause so the Stars could protect Khudobin. Bishop could either become for the Kraken what Marc-Andre Fleury was for the Golden Knights as an established goalie for an expansion team or return to Dallas with Khudobin and Jake Oettinger.

Any player with a no-movement clause — the most powerful tool in a player's contract — must be protected unless he agrees to waive it to save someone else. Colorado's Erik Johnson and Buffalo's Jeff Skinner are among the other players who agreed to waive theirs.

Duncan Keith waived his to facilitate a trade from Chicago to Edmonton, and the Oilers are well-positioned to protect the three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time Norris Trophy winner.

Florida is in an easier spot after buying out veteran defenseman Keith Yandle, who had a no-movement clause. As GM Bill Zito said, "While a decision of this kind is never an easy one to make, we believe that this shift is necessary as we look towards the 2021-22 season and our club’s future.”

The future for every team but the Golden Knights involves losing one player to Seattle, and some will make side deals that involve giving up another or a draft pick. Kraken GM Ron Francis will have all the leverage from this weekend through the expansion draft, but until then he's playing the waiting game while his colleagues plan ahead.

“Seattle, I’m sure, will have good options,” Fletcher said. “They’ve worked hard, but I think we had a little bit more time to plan for this one. We feel like we’re in good shape.”

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

© 2021 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC.

2021 NHL Draft: Top 10 left wings

NHL.com 16 July, 2021 - 11:00pm

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William Eklund could be the first Sweden-born left wing to be the first selected at his position in the NHL Draft since the Colorado Avalanche chose left wing Gabriel Landeskog No. 2 in the 2011 NHL Draft.

The 18-year-old (5-foot-10, 176 pounds) played most of the season on a line with his good friend, New Jersey Devils forward prospect Alexander Holtz, with Djurgarden of the Swedish Hockey League, the top professional league in the country.

He received the 2021 E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence, presented annually to the top draft prospect who best exemplifies commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism.

"I can see a bit of (former NHL forward) Henrik Zetterberg in him but also a bit of (Nashville Predators forward) Filip Forsberg with his way of getting those pucks to the net," Djurgarden CEO Thomas Kraft said of Eklund. "He can create intelligent plays on the rush, cover the puck tight along the boards and is very effective on the cycle.

"He has that unique ability to make a difference and win games, which obviously is a great asset for a player his, or any age, for that matter."

Here are NHL.com's top 10 left wings available for the 2021 NHL Draft:

Eklund has good speed, puck skills and vision. He scored 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists), including two power-play goals and three game-winning goals, and had 63 shots on goal while averaging 15:29 of ice time in 40 games, and was named SHL rookie of the year. He excelled while overcame significant adversity this season, including an emergency appendectomy and a positive COVID-19 test.

With the Ontario Hockey League not playing this season due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, Othmann (6-0, 175) played on loan with Olten in the Swiss League, the second-highest professional league in Switzerland. The 18-year-old scored 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 34 games playing with and against experienced professionals, and also showed a willingness to block shots and make the game tough on opponents. He scored six points (three goals, three assists) in seven games to help Canada win the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championship. He scored a goal and took seven shots on goal in a 5-3 win against Russia in the championship game.

L'Heureux (5-11, 196) may have the best hands of any draft-eligible prospect in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, according to J-F Damphousse of NHL Central Scouting. The 18-year-old was second on Halifax with 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) and 130 shots on goal in 33 games. He's at his best when playing physical and driving to the net.

Duke (5-10, 175) is relentless on the forecheck and will hunt pucks down to create offense off pressure. The 18-year-old was second on the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team with 29 goals and 49 points in 50 games, tying for first with nine power-play goals and four game-winning goals. He scored three goals in five games for the United States at the U-18s.

Stromgren (6-3, 175) scored five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games for third-place Sweden at the U-18 World Championship. The 18-year-old, who possesses good speed and mobility, started the season with Modo's Under-20 team, scoring 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in 14 games. He scored nine points (three goals, six assists) in 27 games with Modo in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division.

Kisakov (5-10, 150) loves to get involved where the action is, according to Goran Stubb, European director of Central Scouting. The 18-year-old was second in the MHL, Russia's junior league, with 73 points (36 goals, 37 assists) in 61 games, and scored 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 14 playoff games to help Dynamo Moscow win the MHL championship. He plays bigger than his frame, will go to key areas to retrieve pucks and can play both left and right wing.

Poltapov (6-0, 176) has a great motor and excellent offensive instincts, and uses his skating speed and hockey sense on every shift, according to Stubb. The 18-year-old led his team with 52 points (25 goals, 27 assists) in 61 games in Russia's junior league, and played well enough to make his debut in the Kontinental Hockey League, playing one game with CSKA.

Roulette (5-11, 180) is a goal-scorer with game-breaking ability, according to Central Scouting's John Williams. The 18-year-old found ways to produce in a secondary role for Canada at the U-18s, scoring five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games. Roulette also scored 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 11 Western Hockey League games.

Martino (5-11, 160) led United States Hockey League rookies with 56 points (18 goals, 38 assists) in 38 games, his average of 1.47 points per game was fifth among all USHL players, and he scored 20 power-play points (four goals, 16 assists) and three shorthanded points (two goals, one assist). The 18-year-old is an outstanding playmaker who has shown quickness in all areas. He is committed to play at Clarkson University next season.

Koivunen (5-11, 161), who reads the game well and has showcased good puck control in tight situations, scored 49 points (23 goals, 26 assists) in 38 games and was named rookie of the year in Finland's junior league. He finished second in scoring for fourth-place Finland with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games at the U-18s.

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Opinion | Don’t be fooled: The expansion draft doesn’t make the NHL better — but it does make it more interesting

Toronto Star 16 July, 2021 - 12:00am

We’ve come a long way since “Ottawa apologizes.”

Yes, the good old days of ’92 when the Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning joined the NHL and poor Mel Bridgman, Ottawa’s rookie GM, kept trying to pick ineligible players. Then had to apologize.

The NHL was a different operation back then, not nearly as sophisticated in so many ways compared to today, and the expansion draft was different, too. Back then, it was still a way for existing teams to give the newbies nothing in return for their initiation fee, or to foist horrible contracts on the new “partners.” The Senators’ first non-goalie expansion draft pick was Brad Shaw. Tampa’s was Joe Reekie.

The expansion clubs were expected to be awful. By year five, perhaps, if they hadn’t already driven away their once excited fan base, they could start to compete.

Well, 2017 changed all that. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights, blessed with ambitious ownership and a smart, experienced executive, used the expansion draft process to acquire enough good players that — incredibly — the team went to the Stanley Cup Final in its first year.

This was, of course, a terrible indictment of just how watered down the league had become under Gary Bettman. But that barn door was opened years ago. Nowadays, the hockey media in generally has become so pro-NHL, so pro-grow-and-promote-the-game, that the introduction of the Kraken is generally being treated as if it is some great achievement by the NHL, as if a 32nd team will enhance the league in ways no one could possibly have imagined.

It won’t. The television numbers remain microscopic in the U.S., and going from NBC back to ESPN isn’t going to change that. This was about stuffing $650 million (U.S.) into the jeans of existing owners, and that money has come in handy over the past 18 months as the league has lost hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly billions of dollars, during the pandemic. The only team that will benefit directly is Vancouver, which finally has a true geographical rival. So if the objective of this expansion was to help the Canucks, then it’s a job well done.

The other positive thing you can say is that the NHL, first with the Vegas expansion and now through the process of bringing Seattle in, has made expansion a lot more interesting. Combined with a flat salary cap and the memories of what Vegas was able to do, the expansion draft process has helped to generate a dizzying explosion of player movement and intrigue over the past week to 10 days.

Protected lists will become available Saturday, and you can expect quite a few big names will be on it. Matt Duchene. P.K. Subban. Maybe Mark Giordano. Seattle makes its picks on Wednesday, and there is already enormous pressure on Kraken GM Ron Francis to make as big an impact as George McPhee did with the Knights four years ago.

Interestingly, now it’s Vegas that is playing the role of the team in an uncomfortable position of having to come up with complex solutions to deal with the twin problems of keeping the assets it wants and moving out expensive players it can’t afford. The names of Max Pacioretty, Marc-André Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault are among those circulating as players the Knights might move to solve their salary cap crunch.

Everybody was aware Seattle was coming in. But nobody saw the flat cap coming, because it was created by the pandemic. So quite a number of teams are scrambling, including the Maple Leafs, who appear helpless to stop Zach Hyman, an important player, from walking out the door. We’re going to see which NHL managers really know their stuff over the next few weeks, and Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is clearly under the spotlight for so far failing miserably to push the team any further forward than it was under Lou Lamoriello.

Everywhere, the news has been coming fast and furious. Montreal may expose Shea Weber and his $7.8-million cap hit to the Kraken, but Weber may not play at all next season because of various injuries. So the news actually helps Montreal in the short-term and its protection issues. And could the Habs manipulate the cap with Weber in the same way Tampa did with Nikita Kucherov?

Edmonton has taken on Duncan Keith’s contract. Minny bought out and Zach Parise at enormous cost, partially to prevent losing other players to Seattle.

“We get to protect two more players,” said GM Bill Guerin after the buyouts were announced.

Colorado traded a good defenceman, Ryan Graves, to New Jersey to avoid losing him to Seattle. Dallas goalie Ben Bishop waived his no-movement clause, so Stars could protect Anton Khudobin. Colorado’s Erik Johnson and Sabres winger Jeff Skinner also waived their no movement clauses and could go in the expansion draft. At the same time, we’re expecting two of the game’s top young stars, Jack Eichel and Seth Jones, to be traded sometime very soon, and Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog may be headed to unrestricted free agency.

It’s not just about Seattle building a team. A club like Detroit, with $9.5 million worth of cap space, could make big strides in the coming days. The Wings got a second-round pick last fall from the Rangers for taking on Marc Staal’s contract, and they could go that route again. Detroit has 11 picks in the first four rounds of this summer’s draft, two firsts and three seconds, and a top prospect, Moritz Seider, on the way next season. On Friday night, the Wings used one of those 2021 second-rounders to acquire defenceman Nick Leddy and his $5.5-million salary from the Islanders.

You always knew Steve Yzerman was going to turn that franchise back into a winner.

So while Leaf fans fixate on Hyman, it’s probably worth your while to take the big picture view for the next little while. Expansion doesn’t make the NHL better. But the way it’s done now, it does make things quite a bit more interesting.

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