Mark Giordano, Yanni Gourde, and Jordan Eberle headline Seattle Kraken expansion draft roster

The Seattle Kraken have their roster, although there’s some noise that they may have a trade or two in the hopper. When it was all said and done, GM Ron Francis stayed away from big contracts like Matt Duchene and PK Subban. Seattle wanted cap flexibility, so they focused on young players and veterans with character.

Now, the Seattle Kraken can get crackin’.

Seattle Expansion Draft

The National Hockey League’s 32nd and newest franchise stocked its roster Wednesday in the expansion draft, with their selections announced at a nationally televised party at Seattle’s Gas Works Park featuring Grammy Award-winning Macklemore and several of the city’s current and former sports heroes.

General manager Ron Francis passed up two of the biggest — and most expensive — names left unprotected in Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog.

“I think anytime you see a name like Carey Price available, you have to consider it,” Francis said. “Certainly we did that. We had a lot of discussions, and at the end of the day we made the decision that we did to go in a different direction.”

Kraken take Giordano, Gourde, and Eberle

seattle kraken roster
Mar 2, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano (5) skates with the puck against the New York Rangers during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. New York Rangers won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Kraken did take three players scheduled to make more than $5 million next season.

Veteran Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano ($6.75 million), the 2019 Norris Trophy winner, is expected to be the Kraken’s first captain.

“This is the first time in my career I’ve ever been drafted,” Giordano said, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent. “It’s a beautiful city and you can feel the buzz.”

The Kraken also selected forwards Yanni Gourde ($5.17 million) from the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and Jordan Eberle ($5.5 million) from the New York Islanders.

“It’s a new challenge. You don’t get many opportunities to be part of a new franchise,” said Eberle, who modeled the Kraken’s road jersey.

Kraken sign three players

Goaltender Chris Driedger, an unrestricted free agent, signed a three-year deal with the Kraken reportedly worth a $3.5 million average annual value, making him Seattle’s selection from the Florida Panthers.

“This is a life-changing moment for me, for sure,” said Driedger, wearing a Seattle home jersey.

The Kraken also chose a pair of veteran defensemen who were pending unrestricted free agents and signed them to new deals: Jamie Oleksiak of the Dallas Stars and Adam Larsson of the Edmonton Oilers.

Sportsnet reported that Seattle and Oleksiak agreed on a five-year contract with a $4.6 million average annual value. Larsson signed a five-year deal with a $4 million average annual value, TSN reported.

Seattle followed the blueprint provided by the 2017 expansion Vegas Golden Knights in one way. The Golden Knights selected goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who ended up leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season.

While the Kraken didn’t pick Price, who was seen as the 2021 comparable to Fleury, they selected two defenseman named Fleury: brothers Haydn Fleury from the Anaheim Ducks and Cale Fleury from the Montreal Canadiens, who aren’t related to Marc-Andre Fleury.

“We wanted players with character,” Francis said. “We certainly wanted players that compete hard.”

Kraken fans “hockey ready”

Kraken fans showed their knowledge of the NHL by booing commissioner Gary Bettman when he took the stage.

“Yes, with the booing and all these people — you are hockey ready,” Bettman said.

On the broadcast, it was revealed that the Kraken’s home opener at the newly renovated Climate Pledge Arena will be Oct. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks, with whom the NHL wants Seattle to establish a geographic rivalry.

Teams were allowed to protect either seven forwards, three defenseman and one goalie, or eight total skaters and one goalie.

The Kraken then had to choose one player from every other NHL team except the Golden Knights, because they were an expansion team four years ago. Of the 30 picks, Seattle was required to select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.

The Kraken ended up with 14 forwards, 13 blueliners and three goalies.

Seattle Kraken expansion draft selections, listed by position and in alphabetical order:

Mason Appleton (Winnipeg Jets)
Nathan Bastian (New Jersey Devils)
Colin Blackwell (New York Rangers)
Joonas Donskoi (Colorado Avalanche)
Jordan Eberle (New York Islanders)
Morgan Geekie (Carolina Hurricanes)
Yanni Gourde (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Calle Jarnkrok (Nashville Predators)
Kole Lind (Vancouver Canucks)
Jared McCann (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Tyler Pitlick (Arizona Coyotes)
John Quenneville (Chicago Blackhawks)
Alexander True (San Jose Sharks)
Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia Flyers)

Gavin Bayreuther (Columbus Blue Jackets)
William Borgen (Buffalo Sabres)
Dennis Cholowski (Detroit Red Wings)
Vince Dunn (St. Louis Blues)
Cale Fleury (Montreal Canadiens)
Haydn Fleury (Anaheim Ducks)
Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames)
Adam Larsson (Edmonton Oilers)
Jeremy Lauzon (Boston Bruins)
Kurtis MacDermid (Los Angeles Kings)
Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas Stars)
Carson Soucy (Minnesota Wild)
Brandon Tanev (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Joey Daccord (Ottawa Senators)
Chris Driedger (Florida Panthers)
Vitek Vanecek (Washington Capitals)

–Field Level Media