The Seattle Kraken expansion draft: where a brand new team gets the opportunity to select a player from 31 different teams, is rapidly approaching. This is the second time in 4 years where teams have to expose multiple players, including veterans, and every franchise is probably going to have a different strategy going into this. Lou Lamoriello, who is one of the top General Managers in the league, has to make some tough decisions for his team. Who should the Islanders protect from the expansion draft?
New York is in an amazing situation goalie-wise. After Ilya Sorokin had a pretty good rookie season and Semyon Varlamov led the Islanders to a far playoff run, the Kraken would undoubtedly draft one of these guys if they had the opportunity. However, Sorokin is ineligible for the expansion draft and each team can protect one goalie, so Varlamov is going to be protected. This means that the Kraken will not be able to draft either of these guys on Wednesday and the Islanders are going to be entering the 2021-2022 season with possibly the top goalie tandem in the league.
On Defense, it gets a bit interesting now that Nick Leddy is off to Detroit. Each team gets to protect 3 defensemen, for the Islanders Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech are undoubtedly going to be protected. The third Defenseman going to be protected was between Scott Mayfield and Nick Leddy. Both of them play big roles for this team and get a lot of time on the ice. Whoever Lamoriello did not protect had a good chance of getting drafted, however, Leddy is no longer an Islander. Mayfield is now a lock to be protected, but this now also causes an extra level of anticipation of another move on the horizon. The Kraken must be able to draft a defenseman with at least 40 games played last year. Noah Dobson is also ineligible for the draft since he is going to be a second-year player. However, the Islanders recently re-signed Andy Greene to a 1 year, $1 million deal in order to meet the Expansion Draft criteria. The former captain of the New Jersey Devils will be exposed, but it is unlikely that he will be selected, and if he is then that means the Islanders would still have every forward that they left exposed. For Defense, protecting Pulock, Pelech, and Mayfield is the way to go.
On Offense, Barry Trotz along with the front office is going to have pretty easy decisions to make on who to protect. The usual top line of Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, and Jordan Eberle are all going to be protected. Eberle is rumored to be on the trade block due to his contract, but Leddy and Andrew Ladd’s large salaries are off the books, therefore there is now a lot more money to spend on Pelech, Sorokin, and Beauvillier. I think Eberle is going to be an Islander next season and he will be protected. The Islanders’ whole second line is also going to be protected as well. The line of Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey made up for a big part of the team’s offense during this last playoff run and there is no reason to leave any of these three guys exposed. The final forward that is going to be protected is the third line center-man, J-G Pageau. Pageau has played well since being traded to the Islanders in February of 2020. He has had some big goals, plays a big part in both the power play and the penalty kill, and is good at winning face-offs. Protecting these 7 forwards would leave the entire Identity line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas (who is a UFA) and Cal Clutterbuck unprotected and the Kraken might find one of these guys attractive to select. The unfortunate thing for the Islanders is that Kieffer Bellows and Otto Koivula are also going to be exposed and available to be taken. The Isles are a deep team, there is no denying that, and when you are only limited to protecting a certain amount of players, it leaves the Kraken with so many choices in who they can take. The Islanders protecting Lee, Barzal, Eberle, Beauvillier, Nelson, Bailey and Pageau is the route that should be taken, although some exposed guys have big roles for this team.
It is going to be tough for the Islanders to leave a couple of guys who mean a lot to this team unprotected, but on the bright side, the players with the biggest roles will be unavailable for the Kraken to take and will remain parts of this franchise.
Photo By: Alec Brownscombe