WE CAN’T WAIT FOR: NHL Expansion Draft: TODAY!!! — NHL Entry Draft: July 23 & 24 — NHL Free Agency: July 28
Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 83 days
Monday’s Moon Shot
GROUNDBREAKING MOMENT: Predators prospect Luke Prokop made history by becoming the first player under contract with an NHL team to come out as gay in a remarkable display of courage. He was met with support from throughout the league, and beyond. #HockeyIsForEveryone
YOU GOTTA SEA ‘EM: The Kraken released a sneak-peek of their jerseys, which will officially be revealed during tonight’s draft coverage. Lookin’ sharp!
Tuesday’s Toe Drags
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: Veteran defenseman Yannick Weber announced his retirement, hanging them up after 13 seasons and 499 games played in the NHL. He’ll continue his professional career in Switzerland. Best of luck!
Do you know your NHL Expansion Teams?
- Who was the NHL’s first expansion team?
- Toronto St. Patricks
- Quebec Bulldogs
- Montreal Maroons
- New York Americans
- In what year did the NHL adds six teams to the league — the largest expansion in professional sports history?
- The Vegas Golden Knights had a historic inaugural season. Of all the expansion teams that are still in existence, which franchise had the worst record in their debut season?
- Washington Capitals
- San Jose Sharks
- Ottawa Senators
- Tampa Bay Lightning
Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.
Kraken’s First Face of the Franchise
Tonight is finally the night. When the clock strikes midnight, the Seattle Kraken will have a full roster. Since the protected lists were released, fans have continuously speculated who will be scooped up by Seattle, as the players available include Conn Smythe winners and Stanley Cup victors. The options seem to be endless and tomorrow we will have a better understanding of what Ron Francis is trying to create.
Fans will also find out who the face of the franchise will be for the inaugural season. There are plenty of choices and — while some might be a little more improbable than others — it’s always fun to theorize.
Vladimir Tarasenko: I would safely bet Connor McDavid’s contract that the Kraken will select the Russian sniper from the St. Louis Blues tonight. Earlier this month, the 29-year-old forward requested a trade out of St. Louis — as it appears he is not happy with how the team handled his multiple shoulder surgeries. When healthy, he can put up 65-75 points in a regular NHL season. He wants a change of scenery and now has the chance to be on the Vegas Golden Knights 2.0.
Ryan Johansen: Every team needs a good locker room guy, and the Kraken will get that — and more — with Johansen. He is a marketing content manager’s dream and would be an instant fan favorite in Seattle. The center comes with a hefty price tag at $8 million a season until 2024-25, but the payoff could be huge. The right linemates could elevate Johansen’s game and get him back to producing 60 points a season.
Options Within Reach
P.K. Subban: There may not be a player more desirable for a new franchise than Subban. He has the personality and social media presence that is perfect for a new team. He has one year left on his contract before he becomes a UFA — so adding him to the Kraken roster is a low-risk move and can do wonders for the club off the ice.
Gabriel Landeskog: It appears negotiations are not going well in the Rocky Mountain State. Their loss can be Seattle’s gain. The Avalanche’s long-time captain may be on his way out and Seattle will need someone to wear the “C” on his sweater. For the past few seasons, Landeskog has been one-third of Colorado’s top line — maybe even the league’s — and is hungry for a Stanley Cup after his team’s playoff departure.
Hey, It Could Happen
Carey Price: Some people still can’t believe that Price is available to Seattle, especially after his postseason performance. The consensus is, between his price tag and age, the Kraken won’t bite when it comes to the NHL All-Star — but crazier things have happened. Price may be in his 30s, but just last month showed that he can still play like his “vintage” self. The goaltender would — without a doubt — be the face of the franchise, and with his wife being from Washington State, this could be a match made in hockey heaven.
Alex Ovechkin: If we dare whisper that Ovechkin could play for any team besides the Capitals, everyone would lose their mind. The truth is, Ovechkin is an unrestricted free agent and Seattle could convince the future Hall of Famer to finish his career in a new city. Even though the likelihood of this scenario coming to fruition is small, it could set the tone for an amazing offseason — unless you’re a Capitals fan, of course.
NHL Jam – Who’s Seattle’s One-Two Punch?
For those old enough, the arcade classic NBA Jam brings back memories of spending hours playing as Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, sipping on a blue raspberry ICEE — all while trying to collect enough tickets to win that $2.50 stuffed animal behind the counter (or in the glass case, if the arcade was REALLY fancy). Well, that got us thinking: Given the expansion draft tonight, what could the Kraken’s first-ever dynamic duo look like? Two of our writers — Kristy Flannery and Pat Brown — set out to give us their respective takes, and the funniest thing happened…
Pat Brown: Numbers Don’t Lie
OK, here’s about as close to a can’t-miss scenario as I can possibly imagine — and yet it’s completely reasonable to dream up: Let’s take the fourth-highest scorer on the Stanley Cup champs and pair him with the third-highest scorer from the Presidents’ Trophy winner. That, my friends, is a recipe for success, and exactly what the Kraken would do if they snagged Gourde and Landeskog.
Gourde’s a capable centre who has a good balance between goals and assists. This past season, his 36 points came on 17 goals and 19 assists, and his playing history, for the most part, backs that up. Even with a slightly down 2019-20 season, in which he notched 30 points in 70 games, he’s got 187 points in 310 career contests and is ready to step out of the shadows to take a starring role.
Landeskog, on the other hand, had 52 points in 54 games last season, and the 28-year-old has basically been a production machine in Colorado for the better part of 10 years. He can serve up the apples as good as anyone, and with a 56 percent clip in the faceoff circle, offers plenty of stability when called upon to win a draw.
Combined, the pair averaged a Corsi For percentage of 62.5 last season, and if the two can click, look out, because opposing defenses would be in for a Mt. Rainier-sized challenge.
Kristy Flannery: It Goes Beyond The Numbers
Great minds think alike, and I concur with Pat’s choice of Gourde and Landeskog. Unlike Gourde, Landeskog is an unrestricted free agent, and with each passing day, it seems more likely that he will be leaving the Avalanche. Seattle will need to roll the dice and hope Colorado’s captain signs a deal — and honestly, he is worth the gamble. On top of his own scoring touch, he makes the players around him better. Need an example? Look no further than Nathan MacKinnon or Mikko Rantanen.
Having Gourde and Landeskog on the same line can be lethal to opponents. Gourde may have played a bottom-six role in Tampa, but can easily move up and slide into a top-line position. He has a relentless work ethic and, paired with the right line combination, his game can reach a whole new level.
Landeskog is a natural leader in the NHL, as shown by the “C” that’s been stitched on his sweater since he was 19 years old. He may not have a Stanley Cup ring on his finger, but that’s where Gourde jumps in — because he knows what it takes to win it all, and has no problem putting in the work. On top of their respective on-ice performances, these two have the perfect blend of what is needed in a locker room and should have the entire Kraken front office jumping at the chance to pair them up.