SEATTLE EXPANSION DRAFT
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Gas Works Park, Seattle.
How to watch: ESPN2.
Seattle will select 30 players, one from each team except Vegas (which is exempt). The Kraken must pick at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. At least 20 players have to be signed to contracts that have a combined value of $48.9 million. Teams could protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender from Seattle or eight skaters and a goalie. These protection lists were submitted to the NHL last Saturday and released publicly Sunday when the Kraken could start to exclusively interview unprotected free agents. Teams had to expose a goalie signed for next season (or one who's a restricted free agent) and at least one defenseman and two forwards under contract who played in at least 27 games last season or a minimum of 54 games the previous two seasons combined. First- and second-year pros, like the Wild's Kirill Kaprizov, were exempt from the expansion draft and didn't need to be protected.
Past and present Seattle sports stars such as Gary Payton, Marshawn Lynch and Sue Bird will help General Manager Ron Francis unveil the Kraken's picks, and iconic Seattle locations Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and Mount Rainier will be spotlighted.
PLAYERS PROTECTED BY THE WILD
Forwards Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala, Marcus Foligno, Jordan Greenway, Ryan Hartman, Nico Sturm and Mats Zuccarello; defensemen Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon; and goaltender Cam Talbot.
PLAYERS UNPROTECTED BY THE WILD
Forwards William Bitten, Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Joseph Cramarossa, Gabriel Dumont, Marcus Johansson, Luke Johnson, Victor Rask, Kyle Rau, Mason Shaw and Dmitry Sokolov; defensemen Matt Bartkowski, Louie Belpedio, Ian Cole, Brad Hunt, Ian McCoshen, Brennan Menell, Dakota Mermis and Carson Soucy; and goaltenders Andrew Hammond and Kaapo Kahkonen.
Although the Wild protected the bulk of its lineup, the team is still likely to lose a roster regular. Kahkonen and Soucy are the most intriguing candidates available to Seattle, and either player's exit would create a hole on the Wild's depth chart. In his first chance to be the Wild's full-time backup, Kahkonen impressed last season by winning 16 games (a franchise record for a rookie in a single season) and going on a 9-0 run that tied for the fifth-longest win streak in NHL history by a rookie. As for Soucy, he was effective in his own end on the Wild's third defensive pairing and set career highs in assists (16) and points (17). His $2.75 million cap hit for two more years could be especially appealing to the Kraken; Kahkonen carries an even smaller cap hit next season at $725,000. If the Wild has to replace Kahkonen, the team probably searches free agency for a new backup where a handful of veteran goaltenders are expected to hit the market. The Wild could also use free agency to address its defense if Soucy leaves, and look for the team to pursue short-term contracts. Even though the Wild gained approximately $10 million in cap space this offseason from buying out the remaining contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the team's flexibility shrinks over time as the buyout charge escalates.