The expansion lists have been submitted, the picks will be officially announced later tonight, but Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff has already heard several names that are expected to be announced. The insider tweets that the Seattle Kraken have focused on Yanni Gourde from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Brandon Tanev from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jared McCann from the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vince Dunn from the St. Louis Blues. The latter would mean the Kraken have passed on Vladimir Tarasenko, who was the subject of so much speculation over the past few weeks.
It won’t be official until the picks are actually made, but if these are indeed the selections from those four teams, it is quite a solid core the Kraken are starting with. Add in Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak who are expected to sign as unrestricted free agents and the Kraken are going to be a difficult team to play against in year one.
For Gourde, back-to-back Stanley Cup championships was always going to break up the Tampa Bay roster. His $5.17MM cap hit is a reasonable price to pay for nearly any team in the league, even if the Kraken decide not to take him. In 56 games this season, he scored 17 goals and 36 points, bouncing back from a down 2019-20 when his role on the club was reduced. Back to the center ice position full-time, he was one of the most reliable two-way players on the Lightning, drove offense even with lesser skilled linemates, and contributed on both special teams. In Seattle, if selected, he would represent a potential top-six center and could experience even more offensive success.
Tanev meanwhile is a clear bottom-six player, but one of the most highly-regarded around the league. The 29-year-old provides an incredible amount of physicality, forechecking ability and seemingly endless energy. Signed to a six-year, $21MM contract in 2019, he still has four years remaining at a $3.5MM cap hit. That’s a lot, for a player who averages just over 14 minutes a night, but it also guarantees that the Kraken’s third or fourth line will have a reliable anchor. In his 100 games with Pittsburgh since signing the contract, Tanev has recorded 18 goals, 41 points and 383 hits.
McCann, who only arrived in Toronto a few days ago after a trade from Pittsburgh, will head to his fifth team since debuting in 2015. The 25-year-old forward started his career as a first-round pick with the Vancouver Canucks was sent to the Florida Panthers after just a single year in the NHL, and ended up in Pittsburgh before his 23rd birthday. Though it seems like an odd move for the Maple Leafs, if McCann is selected it essentially means that Toronto traded prospect Filip Hallander and a 2023 seventh-round pick to become exempt from expansion.
Dunn will be one of the biggest stories of the day if he is indeed the Kraken pick, as Tarasenko’s name was much more talked about in recent weeks. Tarasenko’s relationship with the Blues has deteriorated to the point where he is not expected back in St. Louis, meaning the team will have to work out their own trade now. The Kraken did, according to reports, consider selecting the Russian sniper in order to flip him somewhere else, but that always came with a hefty opportunity cost.
That cost is represented in Dunn, who could very well become a star in Seattle. The 24-year-old defenseman has amassed 102 points in 267 games, including 32 goals, and routinely posts outstanding possession numbers. There are real deficiencies to his defensive game, but if put in the right role and sheltered minutes, he could provide huge offense for the expansion club.
Seravalli also notes that the Kraken are likely to select three goaltenders, with Chris Driedger’s name already reported over the last few days. Vitek Vanecek from the Washington Capitals and Joey Daccord from the Ottawa Senators are the other two, though like the names listed above, nothing will become official until later tonight.