With the following selection in the 2021 Expansion Draft, the Seattle Kraken has selected Colin Blackwell from the New York Rangers.
Swiss Army Knife
The Kraken added some much-needed depth to their center position by selecting Blackwell. After a brief stint in Nashville (33 games), Blackwell found his way to New York, where he blossomed into a valued player on a Rangers team that needed someone of his caliber to fill in the gaps.
Blackwell exceeded expectations, whether he was on the first line with Artemi Panarin or Mika Zibanejad or tipping in Chris Kreider or Pavel Buchnevich passes on the second line. He never had a clear-cut role, despite being penciled in on the third line. His versatility allowed him to fill in the gaps when other teammates were absent from the lineup.
He scored timely goals down the stretch to keep the Rangers’ playoffs hopes alive and became somewhat of a fan favorite. He covered both ends of the ice and was never shy to give or take a hit to make a play.
During his stint with the Predators, Blackwell collected 10 points on three goals and seven assists. In just one season in New York, he scored 22 points in 47 games thanks to 12 goals and 10 assists. He used his time on Broadway to showcase why he deserves to be an NHL regular, reaching career highs in games played, goals, assists, and points.
After the Rangers failed to make the playoffs, Blackwell was a vital member of the USA team who won the bronze medal over Germany at the recent World Championships. Not only was the Ranger an alternate captain, but he was Player of the Game in Team USA’s 2-1 win over Norway on May 29, 2021. He finished the tournament with four goals and a plus-5 rating in seven games.
The One Who Got Away
The recent 2020-21 season marked the first time Blackwell made an NHL team out of camp and stayed in the league for the entire season. While a member of the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators organizations, Blackwell spent most of his time in the minors, where he suited up for 187 games collecting 105 points. When examining his AHL numbers, he collected 41 goals and 64 assists with a career plus-10 rating. In 23 playoff games across three seasons, Blackwell scored seven points with five goals and two assists.
New York will miss Blackwell because of what he brought to the table. Signed to a league minimum ($750,000) contract through 2022-23, he finally found his NHL game in New York and contributed in more ways than anyone would have expected. Labeled as a bottom-six guy for most of his career, he showed everyone that he could play top-six minutes and produce with the right set of linemates. No matter what role he’s had in his career, his plus/minus rating has always been positive, which showcases his ability at both ends of the ice.
He spent the entire 2020-21 season showing his dedication to his craft, and that will help Seattle forge their identity right out of the gate.
Exposed Rangers Who Stayed
The Rangers left the following players exposed: forwards Jonny Brodzinski, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Gabriel Fontaine, Julien Gauthier, Tim Gettinger, Barclay Goodrow, Anthony Greco, and Ty Ronning. Defensemen included Anthony Bitetto, Brandon Crawley, Tony DeAngelo, Nick DeSimone, Mason Geertsen, Jack Johnson, Darren Raddysh, and Brendan Smith. Keith Kinkaid was the only goalie in the system that was made available.
Every player on the list possesses a unique skill set, with various lengths of NHL experience, which could help the Kraken as they build from the ground up. However, in the end, Seattle decided to choose Blackwell for his versatility.
Ryan Gagne is one of the newest members of The Hockey Writers, covering the New York Islanders. He grew up in a small town in northern New Hampshire, where he idolized the Boston Bruins. Before moving to Canada in 2008, he was the equipment manager for his high school varsity hockey team and a sports journalist for the local newspapers. Ryan has been active in the hockey community, whether coaching, officiating, instructing, or playing. He is the ultimate rink rat with 19 years of experience making ice and driving the Zamboni. An avid fantasy sports player, Ryan created a blog, Keeping the Stats, where he dissects his teams and brags about his 2020 fantasy football championship. Outside of hockey, his life revolves around the New York Yankees, much to his wife’s chagrin.