The first roster for the Seattle Kraken won’t include Carey Price.
The Montreal Canadiens goaltender was not selected by the Kraken in the NHL expansion draft, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team was not announcing details until the expansion draft choices are revealed Wednesday night.
The Kraken’s 30 selections had to be submitted to the NHL by Wednesday morning with the expansion draft taking place 10 hours later on the shore of Lake Union in Seattle.
Still, many picks had leaked before lunchtime in Seattle, removing some of the lustre from one of the league’s marquee off-season events with hockey’s return to ESPN as part of a new television rights deal. Only some potential trades remained unreported.
Seattle choosing not to select Price and his hefty price tag followed the theme of general manager Ron Francis prioritizing salary cap space.
Seattle is reportedly taking on some big contracts with the expected picks of Calgary defenceman Mark Giordano ($6.75 million US) and New York Islanders forward Jordan Eberle ($5.5 million). But early indications are Seattle will emerge from the expansion draft well under the $81.5 million cap, potentially by $20 million or more.
While Price won’t be coming to Seattle, the Kraken will select Chris Driedger from the Florida Panthers, a late bloomer who was a pending free agent. The 27-year-old Canadian goalie has agreed to a $10.5 million, three-year contract, according to the person who spoke with AP.
It was one of at least two signings the Kraken got done before submitting their expansion draft selections. A person with knowledge of the second move said the Kraken had also agreed to terms with defenceman Adam Larsson on a $16 million, four-year contract.
Defenceman Will Borgen will be Seattle’s pick from Buffalo, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told The AP who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity because the team was not announcing any moves until the draft.
The Kraken have picks from every other team except Vegas. Mock drafts have been popular for months about what Seattle might do in a milestone event for the city.
Negotiating a deal with Driedger over the past few days foreshadowed passing on Price, who was stellar on a run to the Stanley Cup Final but has a questionable injury status. Price is signed for five more years at a salary cap hit of $10.5 million, and the potential of him missing the start of next season rehabbing from knee surgery clouded the situation.
Larsson, a 28-year-old Swede, was a pending free agent the Edmonton Oilers were interested in re-signing but still left unprotected after trading for Duncan Keith.
Larsson, a veteran of 603 NHL regular season and 24 playoff games, can now be a top-four option on the right side of the Kraken blue line in their inaugural season.
Driedger had found his form the past two seasons with Florida. He went 21-8-4 with a 2.07 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. Still, the Panthers expected to lose Driedger, either to Seattle or in free agency. They have two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky signed long term and have top prospect Spencer Knight ready to step in.
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