The Kraken has been released.
The NHL’s newest team has players as the Seattle Kraken unveiled their roster Wednesday night. The roster as it stands is the first iteration of what it will ultimately look like on opening night. The draft, trades, and free-agent signings will help shape this team into a final version that will take the ice next season.
What is clear is the Kraken placed a great deal of value on flexibility. Seattle left itself plenty of salary cap space to go after pending free agents like Gabriel Landeskog, Phillip Danault, and Dougie Hamilton. While the Kraken lack star power today, it may not be the case when the puck drops in October.
According to our point projection model, the current Kraken roster projects to be an 86-point team next season, which isn’t a bad start — assuming Wednesday’s selections were just that, a start. The Kraken drafted goalies who have shown various degrees of promise, but none with an established track record of success in the NHL. Seattle accumulated an impressive group of defencemen, some of whom will likely be used as trade chips to acquire other assets. And at forward, the Kraken took a conservative approach, avoiding several high-profile players with big contracts.
With all of this in mind, let’s evaluate the Kraken expansion draft by taking a closer look at who they picked, who they didn’t and what areas they need to address.
The Kraken currently have a cap hit of just over $52.5 million, via CapFriendly, which gives them nearly $30 million of projected cap space to work with. Seattle has seven restricted and two unrestricted free agents to either sign, trade their rights or let walk when free agency opens July 28. The biggest cap hit on the Kraken roster is Mark Giordano who has one year left on his contract at $6.75 million. Giordano headlines a defence corps that is easily the strength of the team.
At 37 years old, Giordano showed he still has plenty left to give after scoring 26 points in 56 games last season. The former Flames captain can still eat big minutes in all situations and should be a calming influence on the Kraken blue line. Last season, Giordano ranked ninth among qualified defencemen in turnover rate, which measures how often a player turns the puck over relative to his total puck possessions. In the defensive zone, Giordano had the third-lowest turnover rate. New teammate Vince Dunn ranked second.
Giordano can be counted on to make the right play at the right time. In addition to being responsible with the puck, Giordano also makes an excellent first pass out of the defensive zone. He ranked sixth in outlet pass completions per game (11.5) and outlet pass completion success rate (78.1 per cent). Giordano also completed an average of 2.4 stretch passes per game, connecting on 80 per cent of his attempts which was second only to Neal Pionk.
Defensively, Giordano will help the Kraken in several areas, specifically slowing opposing teams down off the rush. At even strength, Giordano denied 52 per cent of all zone entries he faced, which ranked 16th among defencemen.
The Kraken’s defence-first approach was evident in signing pending unrestricted free agents Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak. Larsson is a physical defender, ranking fifth in hits and second in blocked shots among defencemen last season. The 6-foot-7, 255-pound Oleksiak ranked seventh in hits and uses his large frame to push opponents off the puck, ranking fifth in puck battle wins per game.
In addition to being a physical force, Oleksiak skates well for a player his size and won’t be shy to join the rush with his new team. Add Carson Soucy, Kurtis MacDermid, and Jeremey Lauzon to the mix and it’s clear the Kraken wanted to form a defence corps that is physically imposing and will be tough to play against. Mission accomplished.
In goal, Seattle is betting Chris Driedger is the real deal. The 27-year-old has just 38 games of NHL experience, but 23 of those games came this past season with the Florida Panthers and he was easily Florida’s best goalie. Driedger finished the regular season fifth in save percentage at .927 and ranked 11th in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes at 0.19. Both were best among goalies made available to the Kraken.
Seattle also selected Vitek Vanecek from the Washington Capitals. The 25-year-old finished last season with a .908 save percentage in 37 games, which ranked 28th overall. Vanecek finished the season with a 2.69 goals-against average while the Capitals allowed an average of 2.37 expected goals against in the games he played. What that means is Vanecek allowed more goals than expected based on the quality and quantity of shots he faced. The Kraken will hope he can take the next step and challenge Driedger for the starting role. Seattle also drafted Joey Daccord from the Ottawa Senators, likely the team’s third goalie.
The forward position is likely where Seattle will look to make some big moves before opening night. As mentioned, the Kraken passed on some big-name, top-six forwards in favour of a group mainly comprised of depth forwards and prospects. That’s not to say there isn’t talent capable of taking on more responsibility with the Kraken.
Yanni Gourde, a third-line centre in Tampa Bay, will step into a top-six role and he is the most likely candidate to excel in a larger role. Gourde is a tenacious player who gets to loose pucks and pushes opponents off the puck at a high rate. He can generate shots and get pucks to teammates in the slot, where 75 per cent of all goals are scored. If Kraken fans are wondering who their most likely candidate is to breakout like William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault did in Vegas — Gourde is the guy.
Jordan Eberle is currently the Kraken’s highest-paid forward, with a cap hit of $5.5 million per season. In four years with the New York Islanders, Eberle averaged 0.62 points per game, which ranks 113th among all forwards with at least 200 games played in that time. It also happens to be the same points per game total as his new teammate in Gourde. Barring any major additions at right wing, Eberle will slot in as the Kraken’s top line right winger and will be counted on to provide offence on the power play. With nearly 800 games under his belt, Eberle is still a productive offensive player and solid puck-moving forward, raking in the 87th percentile last season in controlled zone entries and exits. The only forward on the Kraken roster who ranked higher was Joonas Donskoi, who ranked in the 93rd percentile.
Donskoi scored a career-high 17 goals in 51 games with the Colorado Avalanche while finishing the season with a well above average shooting percentage of 19.8. While repeating a shooting percentage of nearly 20 per cent may be unrealistic, there is evidence to suggest Donskoi can sustain an above-average shooting percentage. Just over 71 per cent of Donskoi’s shot attempts last season came from the slot. Only 13 players had a higher percentage of their shots from this scoring area. The better the shot quality, the more likely a player will be to post an above average shooting percentage (see Mark Scheifele). If Donskoi can continue to generate a majority of his shots from prime scoring areas, he should be able to build on his career-high goal total from last season.
Jared McCann, Morgan Geekie, Calle Jarnkrok, and Brandon Tanev are also dependable forwards who performed well in depth roles with their former teams. As mentioned, the Kraken have cap space to work with and should they choose to add some more offensive firepower by signing unrestricted free agents, they should have a competitive team next season.
General Manager Ron Francis made a point to keep costs down in the expansion draft and build from the net out. Driedger and Vanecek have shown, albeit in small samples, potential to be an effective platoon in net for Seattle. The Kraken boast an impressive group of defencemen which will be a pain in the butt to play against. Seattle drafted forwards who will also make it difficult to generate offence against. There is a need for proven goal scoring but, again there is plenty of time to address it in the coming weeks.
What is certain is there will be plenty of movement to come, starting at 1 pm ET today as the roster freeze lifts across the NHL and any side deals Seattle made are expected to be announced. Regardless, in a weak Pacific Division, there is reason to believe the Kraken will compete for a playoff spot in their inaugural season.
The Edmonton Oilers select big German defender Luca Munzenberger at #90 overall – Edmonton Journal
The Edmonton Oilers trading down on Day #1 of the NHL draft was converted not 24 hours later into Defenceman Luca Munzenbeger.
Gotta love the name! Munzenberger is an 18-year old out of Dusseldorf, Germany. He has a late (November) 2002 birth date.
He’s a big, left-handed shot at 6’3, 194 LBS.
Munzenberger spent the majority of 2020-21 with Kolner Junghaie of the DNL U20. In 6 games he went 1-2-3 and served as Team Captain. His time in junior versus pro left open the door for him to play in college. Munzenberger also played for Team Germany at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton (0-0-0 in 5GP). More on that in a minute…
Munzenberger is considered to be an excellent PK man, but possesses a big shot which makes him a threat from the point as well. Scouts say he has a soft set of hands and makes an effective first-pass out of his own zone. Those who have seen him play, namely amateur scout Brock Otten, describe the kid as a “suffocating physical defender” with a mean streak. He’s an above-average skater for his size with a massive stride and a big wingspan. He’s effective at clearing the slot and his reach helps him get to pucks ahead of attackers. In my own viewing of his highlights from the WJC’s, Munzenberger closes quickly and effectively on the opposition along the walls. The foot-speed, reach and size are visibly key tools in his ability to break up the cycle.
A side note from that tournament that may indicate the quality of his intangibles: Munzenberger was in COVID quarantine at the very beginning ot the WJ’s, but emerged from that status prior to Christmas and rebounded with a strong performance. That would seem to speak to the kid’s resilience. The young man in a foreign country responded to a stressful situation and considerable uncertainty extremely well.
Draft analyst Steve Kournianos says of him: “A big bodied vacuum cleaner on defence… He has ideal size but the mobility and agility to cover faster players… He plays a mean, physical brand of hockey and can be considered a throwback… He has soft hands and delivers clean passes to any area in the offensive zone, but what makes Munzenberger dangerous is his lethal shot — he owns a bomb of a shot, not only for its velocity but for the sheer power he generates with little backswing. His wrister is just as nasty.”
It is fair to consider this pick as somewhat “off the board”. Elite Prospects had him at #214. No other service had him listed at all. One wonders if fellow countryman Leon Draisaitl had and offered any insight on the player to the Oilers draft team? He and his father surely know of every sharp prospect in that nation.
Munzenberger is committed to NCAA University of Vermont in 2022-23 which offers another interesting tidbit. Todd Woodcroft is the coach of that program, the brother of Bakersfield Condors bench boss Jay Woodcroft. So, there may well be some added insight from that connection.
Montreal Canadiens select Joe Vrbetic with 214th pick – Habs Eyes on the Prize
After a very long day, the Montreal Canadiens final picks are finally upon us, with 214th overall being up first. The Habs acquired this pick after trading out of an earlier round, and with this pick the team selected Joe Vrbetic from OHL’s North Bay Battalion.
Unfortunately like many other prospects in the OHL, Vrbetic was not able to play this year due to the Covid pandemic. In his last full season he posted a 4.23 goals against, an .881 save percentage along with a 14-25-1 record on a dreadful North Bay team that won just 17 out of 62 games.
The Habs have the penultimate pick in the draft at 223rd overall this year coming up.
Tokyo Olympics: Michael Woods was milliseconds away from podium finish in thrilling road race – The Globe and Mail
Latest Olympic updates
OLYMPIC EVENTS FOR JULY 24
- Soccer: Canada’s women’s soccer team won 2-1 over their Chilean opponents, with both goals supplied by Janine Beckie. This victory brings the team one step closer to securing a spot in the quarter-finals. Canada will next face off against Britain on Tuesday.
- Cycling: Michael Woods of Ottawa came close to becoming Canada’s first medal finish after placing fifth in the men’s road race, milliseconds away from the podium. Woods pushed his chase group forward, just trailing behind eventual gold-medal winner Richard Carapaz of Ecuador. Woods finished just one minute and seven seconds behind Carapaz.
- Judo: Japan’s Naohisa Takato won gold in the men’s under 60 kilogram competition for judo, with Japan’s Funa Tonaki securing silver in the women’s under 48 kilogram category. Japan, the birthplace of judo, holds more medals in the sport than any other country. With 86 medals in total, one in five of Japan’s Olympic medals are in judo.
- Tennis: Canadian lefthander Leylah Fernandez won her opening match against Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, putting her through to the second round. Fernandez, an 18-year old from Montreal, won her sets in after just over two hours on a hot Tokyo afternoon.
- Beach volleyball: Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan beat Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands 2-0 on the first day of beach volleyball at the Olympics. The pair have played together for five years and qualified for the Olympics thanks to their 2019 World Championships win. Their next game is on Monday against Germany.
- Gymnastics: After a fall on the horizontal bars, Japan’s “King Kohei” Uchimura is out of the Olympics. The 32-year old Uchimura is considered one of the best male gymnasts of all time. For two full Olympic cycles, Uchimura had won every competition he entered. He holds seven Olympic medals and became the first man in 44 years to win back-to-back individual all-around Olympic golds at the Rio 2016 Games.
OFF THE FIELD
- Refugees: Three athletes competing for the Refugee Olympic team will attend Sheridan College in Ontario this fall as part of the first cohort of a new athletic stream of the Student Refugee Program. Rose Nathike Likonyen, Paulo Amotun Lokoro and James Nyang Chiengjiek fled South Sudan as children and grew up in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where they currently live.
- Dressage: “He’s definitely here with us,” Jamie Kellock said of her late brother, Jonathan. Jamie is attending the Tokyo Olympics as a groom while her sister Lindsay makes her Team Canada debut in dressage. Their brother died of a brain tumour just seven months ago. He was a ski racer and coach in Whistler, B.C. before he passed away at 29.
- New parents: Officials from the Tokyo Olympics said they have tried to find solutions for new parents who want to bring their young children to Tokyo while they compete. The issue was raised when Spanish synchronized swimmer Ona Carbonell announced on Instagram that she had to travel to Tokyo without her husband and breastfeeding infant son because they would not have been allowed to quarantine together in the Olympic village.
Situation in Tokyo, by numbers
WHAT IS THE OLYMPIC MEDAL TALLY IN TOKYO SO FAR?
So far, China has the most gold medals, two, followed by Japan, Korea, Thailand, Iran, Ecuador, Kosovo, Italy with one gold each. Canada has no medals yet.
JAPAN’S LATEST COVID-19 DATA
WHAT TIME IS IT IN TOKYO RIGHT NOW?
Olympic highlights for July 24
Canadian athletes at Tokyo Olympics in photos
Opinion: At the Tokyo Olympics, Michael Woods was a hair’s breadth away from being the stuff of national lore
Michael Woods came milliseconds away from the podium during the men’s road race, and milliseconds away from forever capturing the hearts and minds of Canadians. Despite the near miss, Woods’ performance was captivating. Columnist Cathal Kelly writes, “When he is up in the saddle and headed to vertical, Woods is something to watch. He’s like a piston with arms.”
Penny Oleksiak, women’s swimming team face Olympic-sized expectations in Tokyo
The Canadian women’s swimming team won big at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, bringing home six medals. They surprised Canada, the world, and even themselves. Fast forward to today’s Tokyo Olympic Games, and Canada wants them to do it all over again. At the centre of the team is Penny Oleksiak, who spearheaded Rio’s medal captures despite being just 16 at the time. She arrives in Tokyo with massive expectations on her shoulders.
Taiwan competes as ‘Chinese Taipei’, broadcaster jumps through hoops to appease China
Nathan VanderKlippe, currently reporting from Tokyo, shares musings about the geopolitics present at the Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee does not allow Taiwan – a self-governed nation – to compete under its own name, instead appearing as Chinese Taipei under a special flag. Online streaming service Tencent interrupted its coverage of the opening ceremony to ensure Chinese viewers didn’t have to see the Taiwanese athletes participate in the parade.
Tokyo Olympic events to watch tomorrow, July 25
- Swimming: Keep an eye out for Kylie Masse in the women’s 100-metre backstroke and 14-year-old Summer McIntosh of Toronto in the women’s 400-metre freestyle events.
- Judo: Elimination rounds are scheduled for 10 p.m. (ET) for the women’s 57-kilogram, the weight category for Jessica Klimkait of Team Canada.
- Diving: Canada will compete in the women’s three-metre synchronized springboard, represented by the veteran Olympian Jennifer Abel alongside Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu, who is making her Olympic debut this year.
- Taekwondo: In the women’s 57-kilogram weight class, Skylar Park is hoping to bring home Canada’s first medal in taekwondo since the 20018 Beijing Olympics. She topped the podium in the sport at the Pan Am Games this year.
- Cycling: Leah Kirchmann of Winnipeg, Karol-Ann Canuel of Amos, Que., and Alison Jackson of Vermilion, Alta are competing in the women’s road race alongside 64 other competitors. The race kicks off in Tokyo and brings the cyclists 137 kilometres to the foothills of Mount Fuji.
Check the full Olympic schedule for the latest event times and competitors.
The Tokyo Olympics: Essential reads
What athletes and teams should Canadians look out for? Consult our guide.
How did Canada’s swimmers use data to get stronger? Grant Robertson explains.
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