Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet with a full no-movement clause, unless you count occasionally getting bumped to Wednesdays.
It’s been quite a week since we last met.
Last Wednesday, the Seattle Kraken emerged from the depths and took 30 players overboard, including Kole Lind.
Then on Friday, the NHL Entry Draft and the big trade that saw the Vancouver Canucks completing perhaps the biggest trade of the Jim Benning era, sending the ninth overall selection, a second, a seventh, and the high-cost trio of Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel for a slightly-retained Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland.
More prospects were added via the second day of the Entry Draft on Saturday, and then, finally, Wednesday marked the opening of the annual Free Agent Frenzy, into which we’re now 24 hours deep.
A lot has changed, both around the league and for the Canucks specifically. In the interest of collecting your opinions while they’re at their freshest, this week, we’re asking:
What is your review of the Canucks’ offseason so far, through Expansion, the Entry Draft, and the opening days of free agency?
What do you think of the newly-selected Seattle Kraken?
What do you think of their selection from the Canucks?
And, most importantly, what do you think of the quality of their team, and are they potentially already better than the Canucks?
Your responses are below!
The median age of Seattle’s picks is 25, bordering on 26. With two exceptions, they refused to take the bait of overpriced players in their thirties.
Not only will Seattle be reasonably competitive this year, but they are well set up for the next five years, giving them plenty of time to draft and develop prospects. Well done.
Francis avoided offensive talent for the most part, both up front and on the back end, thereby setting up a team that’s either a) NJ-trap-style, b) tanking for the 2022 and 2023 drafts, or c) set up with cap space to take on bloated contracts post-Expansion Draft to get futures or actual players. They can’t actually start the season with no viable first or second line, can they? The loss of Lind stings, but not that much.
Seattle did a very good job of building in the expansion draft. Their lines right now, before they make trades would be:
Extras: MacDermid, Fleury
They also were smart in taking some guys who can be called up from the AHL in Cholowski, Borgen, and Quenneville, and some guys to be leaders at the AHL level in Bayreuther, Cale Fleury, and Alexander True.
I detest the fact that we lost Lind. As much as I respect Motte, it was unwise to let Lind go instead of Motte. I have been vocal about this, but it bears repeating. Motte is at his ceiling, he overperformed last year and he’s proved his worth as a 4th line player who can play the 3rd line in a pinch. He’s proven himself and can move on after this year, given he’s a free agent. The most we can expect if we flip him would be a 3rd or 4th liner. People view the Dickinson trade as a third and Lind for him, but what it should have been viewed as is Motte and a third for Dickinson while retaining Lind. Podzolkin will be on the team next year, which leaves our RW prospect pool as entirely consisting of Lockwood, who is near ready, Karel Plasek, who is more of a left wing, and Jack Malone. Lind could have played on the 3rd line this year or at least the 4th. He made leaps in improvement each year and we are now going to see that improvement continue for another team, and worse, a new rival. With Motte, how much regret would the team have in four years? Now think of the regret you’ll have with Lind gone, to a rival, in four years. The decision was made solely with regard to Benning trying to keep his job and that’s why he should have been fired. Now he will be doing the same in trades, and does anything think he won’t do the same in Free Agency? We should have accepted the pain of one more rough year in order to secure a bright future, but now we are stuck with a lame duck GM who is solely focused on just the next year in order to save his own job. Another thing to consider, even if you’re not high on Lind, is that if Motte is gone you save $1.2MM against the cap and let’s say Highmore is on the third line and Lockwood makes the 4th line. Either way, a younger kid gets time to prove if they are NHL-level and we save a few dollars to throw to a defenseman.
When it’s all said and done, after the trades (I would think Soucy and MacDermid would be likely to be moved at least) and free agency, Seattle will have a better team this year given their 3rd and 4th lines will be far superior to ours, though our top line is far better. They’ll have enough salary cap to grab another center and two more wings with money to spare. Part of that though is by design. The new NHL expansion rules have made it so much easier to be competitive then when the Wild, Jackets, Senators, Panthers, etc. came into the league.
I think the Kraken did a good job of filling out their roster and should be competitive from the start. I just wish the NHL had such favourable terms for expansion franchises back in the 1970s.
The Kracken roster so far fits the vision of Francis and Hakstol. It works hard, is responsible defensively, and plays with a chip on their shoulder. Lind still has some upside, but may never crack a top-six role. It’s possible he might not even make the opening day roster. I don’t know that the team overall is better than the Canucks, but their defence looks big, mean, tough, and deep.
Two things Ron Francis has already learned from the Vegas experience are, 1) because of the win-now ideology VGK has pursued, cap conundrums are significant, and, 2) virtually no prospects have been developed going into Year Five and don’t expect it to happen in ‘21-22 either. Washington state is a true hockey market and SEA an excellent fit for an NHL franchise. The Kraken D corps is particularly impressive. Shouldn’t root for this team, but will, except against you-know-who.
It must be a dream come true for Francis to put together a roster. I like his approach. A few puzzling picks, but I think there is still another shoe to drop as I don’t think any of the behind-the-scenes deals made with other teams have been disclosed yet.
Seattle has built a very strong foundation with large, character guys, good team speed, and solid work ethic. This is a group where poor effort level is NOT going to be socially acceptable. No teams exposed solid point producers, so Seattle resisted trying to piecemeal a top line together from expansion picks. The cap space they preserved and plethora of tradeable assets, especially on D, will land them some scoring punch.
Seattle may not be a true contender as quickly as Vegas but they are well-constructed to become one within a very few years and stay a contender. Can they resist using up future assets to move into contention quickly? This remains to be seen. Vegas couldn’t.
Seattle did a decent job filling out their roster but had handful of very peculiar selections, most notably the selection from CAR. That said, they filled out their defence and bottom-six forwards well without drafting too old, but left some offensive talent on the board which will likely see them using a good portion of their open cap space to fill it in FA or via trade. As we sit here, this team is still a wild card and could finish in the bottom-third of the league or in the playoffs depending on further moves/signings.
As for the Canucks losing Lind? He would have been in my protection list, but will be replaceable down the road, so I’m pretty ok with it.
What impresses me most about Seattle is a strong defence and tonnes of cap space to find a top line and maybe a goalie.
The advantage of free agents is that the Kraken can tailor their contracts, rather than take some longer or more expensive ones thru the draft, which will be problems down the road.
With so many teams having cap issues, it’s an ideal time to have cap space.
At the draft, I expect them to go after high-end offensive talent, primarily forwards but maybe one offensive defenseman.
Chris the Curmudgeon:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence and for making me look up ‘sforzando’)
There are three things that jump out at me here.
Firstly, the Kraken seem to be more content to build to a slow crescendo, as compared to the Knights’ entry with a bang (a sforzando?). This batch of selections, where they emphasized youth and potential over experience up front, and steady and reliable on the defence, speaks of a philosophy of measured patience. It is a solid enough roster, especially relative to other expansion teams from previous eras, but it is also one that prevents the present from interfering with the future. They were smart to avoid taking on more established stars who might have helped win a few more games out of the gate, but who would have majorly complicated their cap outlook when they’re in a better position to contend. A few teams might have actually thought Seattle would help them out of some salary cap jams by exposing 30-something star players. Mostly didn’t happen.
Secondly, the rest of the NHL appears to have learned something of a lesson from their experience with Vegas, too. Four years ago, almost all of the side deals swung to protect roster players went badly for the other teams. Specifically, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault have been cornerstones of Vegas’ powerhouse offence thanks to Florida, Marc-Andre Fleury has been better than any of his successors in Pittsburgh, who gave up a pick to be rid of him, Shea Theodore has similarly outshone anyone the Ducks were trying to protect by giving him up, and Alex Tuch, William Karlsson, and high draft picks from the Isles, Lightning and Jackets all became huge pieces of a solid puzzle for the Knights. Here, NHL GMs clearly realized that few of their 4th D, 8th forwards or backup goalies were actually worth laying out prime assets to protect. We don’t know how much Seattle tried to extort concessions out of other teams, but they certainly weren’t as successful at it as Vegas was.
Thirdly, looking at that photo, I did not realize that Ron Francis had gotten so old! 58 years old, 17 seasons out of the league…where does the time go?!
The Kraken acquired a fairly good group of defensemen. They chose not to bail some other clubs out from previous huge contracts, although media had them taking Price and Tarasenko. Unless they acquire some more offensive talent, they will not finish higher than Canucks. Glad the league lets expansion clubs get off to a decent start.