The Biggest, Most Surprising Names Left Exposed in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft

Thirty NHL teams - with the exception of the Vegas Golden Knights - have released their protected list for the upcoming 2021 NHL expansion draft. Rumors have been flying over the last few months as to which players would be exposed in the draft on Wednesday, but never in our wildest dreams did we think that this many big names would be on the board. Today, we are going to rank those players from least likely, to most likely to be donning a brand new Seattle Kraken sweater come October.


Alex Ovechkin - F, Washington Capitals


Going to Seattle? Not likely


Washington Capitals Captain, and one of the greatest players of all time, Alex Ovechkin, will not be going to Seattle. The only reason Washington left Ovechkin exposed is because he is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this summer, and Ovi himself has publicly stated that he is already in negotiation talks with the Capitals to remain with the team through the 2021-22 season.

Carey Price - G, Montreal Canadiens


Going to Seattle? Not likely


This is the big one that everyone seems to be freaking out over. Carey Price, the face of the most successful franchise in NHL history, and one of the top goaltenders in the league over the last 15 years, has been left exposed by his team. I have seen mixed emotions over Montreal's decision to not protect Price from Seattle. On one hand, Montreal fans would probably be happy to see Price's massive contract take a first class flight over to the Pacific Northwest, as freeing up that type of money from their cap space would be huge for Montreal, allowing them to make a splash in free agency this offseason. However, Carey Price is Montreal. Agree or disagree with me all you want, but without Price, Montreal would've never made it to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. The guy stood on his head all postseason long, being the main reason Montreal was able to dispose of Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vegas before eventually being ousted in five games by the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Price has five more years left on his eight year deal, and is set to make $10.5 million in 2022, which would take up roughly 8% of Seattle's cap space. Price has also recently traveled to New York in order to have a hip injury evaluated by a doctor, and he is in jeopardy of missing the beginning of the 2021-22 season. $10.5 million for an injured goaltender who's on the wrong side of 30 years old? I think Seattle would be crazy to not at least contemplate picking up Price, but at the end of the day, I doubt they do. Especially with the recent Chris Driedger signing, and Minnesota leaving Kaapo Kähkönen exposed.

Gabriel Landeskog - F, Colorado Avalanche


Going to Seattle? Not likely


Actually, I would probably lean toward somewhat likely that Landeskog ends up in Seattle, but I think it'll be through free agency rather than being drafted. Much like Alex Ovechkin, Colorado Captain Gabriel Landeskog is a UFA this summer, and I doubt Seattle wastes a pick on Landeskog when they could very well just work out a contract with him when free agency opens up, especially with Joonas Donskoi being left exposed by the Avalanche.


The New York Islanders are also reportedly going to be aggressive in their pursuit of Landeskog should he hit the open market.

Jason Zucker - F, Pittsburgh Penguins


Going to Seattle? Not likely


Pittsburgh winger, Jason Zucker, is an appealing option for Seattle. However, Zucker only has one more year left on his contract, and Pittsburgh has left other appealing options on the board for Seattle to choose from, such as Brandon Tanev, Marcus Pettersson, and Casey DeSmith.

Vladimir Tarasenko - F, St. Louis Blues


Going to Seattle? Somewhat Likely


Tarasenko has been one of the league's premier goal scorers over the last half decade, making him a very appealing pick for Seattle. However, there are some downsides to picking up Tarasenko, which may make this one of the harder decisions for Seattle during the expansion draft. Firstly, Tarasenko is coming off of a recent surgery on his shoulder, a procedure that was meant to fix a nagging injury that Tarasenko has been dealing with over the last two years. Whether or not the surgery was a success has yet to be seen, so Seattle would obviously be taking a huge risk there. Secondly, the 2019 Stanley Cup Champion will come with a $7.5 million cap hit, a lot of money to spend on a guy who is recovering from surgery. However, if the shoulder surgery achieves it's desired effect and fixes Tarasenko's shoulder, this could be an absolute steal for Seattle.


St. Louis also left defenseman, Vince Dunn, exposed. Dunn is another very tempting option for Seattle. The 23 year old blueliner garnered plenty of attention during last years trade deadline. Either way, whether Seattle picks up Tarasenko or Dunn, these are two very good players with tremendous upside.


Jared McCann - F, Toronto Maple Leafs


Going to Seattle? Very likely


The newest member of the Maple Leafs might not be staying in Toronto for long. McCann was recently traded to Toronto by the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 17th, likely for expansion draft reasons. McCann has been a productive player over the last two seasons, and has one more year on his contract before being a restricted free agent (RFA) giving Seattle exclusive negotiating rights with McCann come next summer.

Kaapo Kähkönen - G, Minnesota Wild


Going to Seattle? Very likely


Here is a goaltender that a lot of people are very surprised that Minnesota left exposed. Considered to be the goaltender of the future for the Wild, he now may be the future franchise goalie in Seattle. The Finnish goaltender is only commanding a $725,000 cap hit, making this an absolute no-brainer for Seattle.

Mark Giordano - D, Calgary Flames


Going to Seattle? Very likely


To me, this one is another no brainer. By drafting veteran defenseman and longtime Captain of the Calgary Flames, Mark Giordano, Seattle would be picking up a first line defenseman who plays big, crucial minutes, and a guy who already knows what it takes to be a leader on a Cup contending team. Giordano will make $6.75 million in 2021-22, with one year left on his contract.

Yanni Gourde - F, Tampa Bay Lightning


Going to Seattle? Very likely


Tampa Bay left many solid players exposed in the expansion draft, making any choice that Seattle makes here a good one. However, if Ron Francis wants to make the right decision, he'll pick up Yanni Gourde. Gourde can serve as a top two center in Seattle, a position that is paper thin in this year's expansion draft. Gourde also has four years left on his $31 million contract with an annual average salary (AAV) of $5.166 million.

Chris Driedger - G, Florida Panthers


Going to Seattle? Already happening


It was already reported that Driedger is close to signing a three year, $3.5M AAV deal with the Seattle Kraken, basically making this one a lock. I'm not sure why I'm even putting Driedger on this list, I guess just my due diligence?

The 2021 NHL expansion draft will take place on Wednesday, July 21st at 8 P.M. (EST) on ESPN2.


Follow me on Twitter for all your latest NHL news, updates and rumors. @NY_cth


-Chris

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