Kraken expansion draft: what could the Coyote protection roster look like?

Thursday, June 10, 2021. 9:00 AM

Over the next month, RDS.ca offers you an overview of the 30 NHL teams that will be required to submit a protection list for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft on July 21, and the decisions that await the CEOs.

Before running out of fuel late in the season, the Arizona Coyotes found themselves at the height of the fight to secure fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division for several weeks, and even up. ‘at the end of April. This is already more than what was expected of a club which, let’s face it, was nothing terrifying on paper.

If Rick Tocchet failed to squeeze the most out of a squad that really isn’t full of stars – let alone after Taylor Hall chose to turn his nose up at the Coyotes last fall – he wasn’t. not far from having done so. A few players seized the opportunity presented by this balding roster and worked hard in 2020-2021, while what we thought was a very good goalkeeper duo may have finally turned into a trio, with the emergence of Adin Hill during the simultaneous absences of Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta.

Despite having managed to squeeze many of them out of a rather limited squad, Tocchet and the Coyotes mutually agreed that it was time to move on. On May 9, it was announced that the head coach would not be back after his club were ruled out of the postseason playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. The 18-year NHL veteran arrived from Pittsburgh in 2017.

HOW IS THE FUTURE OF COYOTES FUTURE?

The candidates to come upset the established order in the hierarchy of the Coyotes do not run the streets. The reality is that the Arizona squad’s hopeful bank belongs to the bottom third of the 31 teams. The first name we turn to is naturally Barrett Hayton, whom John Chayka claimed 5th overall in 2018, when he was still managing director.

On the international stage with Junior Team Canada, Hayton had provided clues to believe he had a bright future ahead of him. Without saying that things will not unlock for him, we are slow to see the same brilliance in his offensive performance among professionals.

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Defenseman Victor Söderstrom (1st pick in 2019) and Hayton are the two prospects Coyotes fans follow most closely at the Tucson Roadrunners. Seeing the immediate results of the 20-year-old Swedish full-back, an extended AHL internship wouldn’t hurt, just to continue adjusting to the realities of the North American game without the pressure of having to help the Coyotes immediately. With the presence of several unrestricted free agents among the defensive squad, it would come as no surprise, however, if Söderstrom is rising quickly in the hierarchy and is due to play as early as next year.

THE CENTRAL BLUE LINE AT THE FOUNDATIONS

For a team whose effectiveness is mainly due to tight defensive play and good goaltending performance, it’s no wonder that it’s the defensive position that has two of the best players. Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson needs no introduction, and the Coyotes have made sure he stays with the only roster he’s known since joining the NHL by giving him a monster eight-year extension. an annual value of $ 8.25 million.

Ekman-Larsson’s deal comes with a no-move clause, and there’s no reason to believe the Coyotes would ask him to lift that clause ahead of the expansion draft, automatically making the No. 1 defenseman. of the team one of the players protected in July under the regulations.

Russian full-back Ilya Lubushkin has agreed to extend his contract by one season in mid-April, and although it may seem trivial, this signing de facto allowed the Coyotes to meet a very specific condition, namely that of making it available to the minus one defender who played 40 games last year or 70 games in total in the last two seasons while under contract for the 2021-2022 season. So far, the only defenseman who fits that description in Arizona has been Jakob Chychrun. Of course, the Coyotes were never going to let a scenario loom on the horizon in which the latter was going to be available at the Seattle Kraken in two months.

Already solid year after year since entering the NHL at the age of 18 in 2016-2017, Chychrun has taken another step in his good progress in recent months to rise to the rank of the best in the division, particularly in the offensive aspect. with his lightning slap shot. His 18 goals and 28 assists were two career highs in his fifth campaign.

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WHO SHAPES THE OFFENSIVE SOUL OF THE COYOTES?

In a team that tends to experience significant collective slumps from an offensive standpoint, it’s a more difficult exercise than identifying the attackers who deserve to have their names on the Coyotes’ protective list. .

Five years ago, when they set their sights on Clayton Keller in 7th place in the 2016 draft, it was not uncommon to hear comparisons between his game and that of Patrick Kane. It would be absurd today to mention both names in the same sentence, but Keller is still only 22 years old and if we are to be honest the American winger would have his place in just about every top- 6 in the NHL with his combination of speed and passing skills.

At 33, Phil Kessel may never come close to the stats compiled in his last three years with Pittsburgh, but his 2020-2021 season has been far more convincing than his first in Arizona. It was in his 50th game that he equaled the production he had posted last year in 70 games. There’s one season left on an eight-season (and $ 8M annually) contract that Kessel initialed with … the Toronto Leafs in 2013. Like Ekman-Larsson, the 1,100-plus-game veteran’s contract is with a non-movement clause.

Ultimately, Nick Schmaltz and Christian Dvorak have served as the Coyotes’ first two crosses this year, and while neither is a first line player, they are both capable of producing around 50 points on a full schedule of 82 matches. And at such a reasonable salary (especially in the case of Dvorak, at $ 4.45 million), such players are worth their money.

WILL HILL BE SACRIFIED?

Based on his past performances, the Coyotes may already have had a very positive opinion of Adin Hill and his chances of becoming a regular NHL goalie. But to see him keep the goals with so much aplomb and confidence during his fifteen starts in 2020-2021 was not trivial.

The 24-year-old goaltender is 6-foot-6, and much like Darcy Kuemper, Hill leaves very little room for opposing shooters to score in the top half. Of course, the plans for the Kraken to be the guardian are ignored as there will be a number of valid options in each division, but the prospect of a Kuemper or Hill being available is tantalizing.

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Kuemper is “only” 30 years old and his rise to the rank of the best goalkeepers on the circuit has been most impressive since arriving in Arizona in February 2018 (for Tobias Rieder and Scott Wegdewood … Ouch !) In the end, the additional “security” aspect brought by the Canadian goalkeeper will possibly be what will help DG Bill Armstrong to make this difficult choice which seems to be looming between Kuemper and Hill, the first two goalies of Team Canada, who was a gold medalist at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Riga, Latvia. Let’s bet the goalie the Coyotes will resign themselves to sacrificing could be traded before the Kraken has a chance to draft him without Arizona taking anything away.

RDS.ca predictions

The Coyotes’ main strength does not necessarily lie in offense, but we can bet that they will nonetheless opt for the “7 attackers, 3 defenders and a goalkeeper” format, among other things because Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson , Jason Demers and Jordan Oesterle are all heading towards full autonomy this summer.

Forwards (7)

Clayton Keller
Phil Kessel (23 team no-trade clause)
Nick Schmaltz
Christian Dvorak
Conor Garland
Michael Bunting
Lawson Crouse

Defenders (3)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (No-movement clause)
Jakob Chychrun
Kyle Capobianco

Goalkeeper (1)

Darcy Kuemper

Main unprotected elements

Adin Hill (G)
Antti Raanta (G / Joueur autonome sans compensation)
Johan Larson (A)
Christian Fischer (A)
Dryden Hunt (A)
Ilya Lubushkin (D)

The portrait of the NHL teams

Ducks Anaheim Coyotes Arizona Bruins Boston (11-06)
Sabres Buffalo (12-06) Flames Calgary (13-06) Hurricanes Caroline (14-06)
Blackhawks Chicago (15-06) Avalanche Colorado (16-06) Blue Jackets Columbus (17-06)
Stars Dallas (18-06) Red Wings Detroit (19-06) Oilers Edmonton (20-06)
Panthers Floride (21-06) Kings Los Angeles (22-06) Wild du Minnesota (23-06)
Predators Nashville (24-06) Devils New Jersey (25-06) Islanders New York (26-06)
Rangers New York (27-06) Ottawa Senators (28-06) Philadelphia Flyers (29-06)
Penguins Pittsburgh (30-06) Sharks San Jose (01-07) Blue St. Louis (02-07)
Lightning Tampa Bay (03-07) Maple Leafs Toronto (04-07) Canucks Vancouver (05-07)
Capitals Washington (06-07) Jets Winnipeg (07-07) Canadian Montreal (08-07)

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