What a week in the NHL! Just in the past week, the Kraken solidified their roster during the expansion draft, the NHL Entry Draft took place, and there was a bevy of trades and free-agent signings. There’s no way I’ll be able to cover everything this time, so I’ll make sure I cover everything that happened this week over the next few weeks.
1. The Kraken Select Their First-Ever Roster
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The expansion draft is over and the Kraken finally have an official roster. Here is a quick summary of the Kraken’s roster courtesy of SportingNews.
The Kraken had to select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. Twenty of the 30 players selected had to have contracts for 2021-22 and all contracts had to be cap-compliant (the cap ceiling for 2021-22 is $81.5 million). Also, a quick reminder: The Golden Knights were exempt from losing a player.
Some of the notable players selected by the Kraken were former Flames’ captain Mark Giordano, Dallas’ defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, Oilers’ defensemen Adam Larsson, and Lightning’ forward Yanni Gourde.
I was only able to catch a bit of the expansion draft, but the best part was the incredibly small shirt given to former Seattle Supersonics’ forward Shawn Kemp, who was there to announce some of the selections.
We can’t get Shawn Kemp a shirt that fits? pic.twitter.com/ygsyvpcgai
— Bobby (@Pitt_theelder) July 22, 2021
Poor Shawn Kemp, they didn’t have to do him dirty like that. Regardless, Seattle avoided most of the high-profile players that were available, including Carey Price and Vladimir Tarasenko. They did however pick Gourde, which was the most-obvious selection to be made. He has another four years remaining on his team-friendly contract with a $5.16 million AAV. That’s a great contract to take on for a young franchise.
It’s sad to see Giordano picked. I didn’t even realize the Flames left him unprotected. He’s one of those guys I thought would spend his entire career in Calgary. Regardless, Calgary’s loss is Seattle’s gain. Giordano is a top-tier professional and still has some gas in the tank at 37-years-old.
Overall, I can’t imagine the Kraken capturing the same lightning in a bottle that Vegas found in their inaugural season. I would expect the other 31 teams to have learned from their mistakes during the last expansion draft. I predict the Kraken will battle it out with the Kings for last place in the Pacific Division. Regardless, I’m pumped to see them take the ice in their teal and blue jerseys come this fall.
2. Power Goes Number One in Entry Draft
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With the first pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the Buffalo Sabres selected Owen Power, a defenseman from the University of Michigan (yuck). The 18-year-old is a native of Mississauga, Ontario and played one year at Michigan before entering the draft. The Canadian scored 3 goals and added 13 points in 26 games during his freshman year and won a gold medal at the 2o21 World Championships for Team Canada.
I’ve never seen Power play, but from everything I’ve heard, he’s the real deal. And he’ll need to be if the Sabres ever want to start to compete for a playoff spot. They’ve now picked in the two three times in the last six drafts. They’ve hit on Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin, but the jury is out on their other first-round picks like Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens. The Sabres need to show some signs of life if they want to prevent Eichel from requesting a trade. They made some other big moves over the last few days, too. They traded Sam Reinhart for picks and prospects and acquired Robert Hagg.
Luke Hughes was another notable selection. Luke is the brother of Quinn and Jack Huges. He was selected fourth overall by the New Jersey Devils where he will team up with Jack. Poor Quinn will be alone on the other side of the continent.
You can find a complete draft breakdown here.
3. Luke Prokop, Predators’ Prospect Comes Out
— luke prokop (@lukeprokop_6) July 19, 2021
This was the most important news from last week. Predators prospect Luke Prokop came out as gay. You can find Prokop’s statement above. Prokop is the first player in history that is under contract with an NHL team to come out as gay. He is following in the footsteps of other professional athletes who have come out during their careers like Jason Collins in the NBA and most recently, Carl Nassib of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
Prokop was a third-round pick of the Predators last year. He’s currently an assistant captain for the Calgary Hitman in the WHL. So far this season, the defenseman has six points in 15 games. Last year Prokop posted 23 points in 59 games and was a plus 30.
This is a massive step forward for the LGBTQIA community and for increased tolerance in the hockey community. There is not enough representation in the sports world for the LGBTQIA community. Just by coming out, Prokop has already made a huge statement. He will serve as an example that you can come out and still be accepted in the hockey world. Hopefully, he will inspire plenty of other LGBTQIA players to come out and feel like they don’t have to hide their true selves. This will also force the hockey community to become more inclusive. This is another step forward in making hockey to be for everyone.
4. Weber Out for 2021-22, Possibly Longer
After a career renaissance this past season in Montreal, Shea Weber’s career could be over. Montreal’s captain played with a myriad of injuries throughout this past season.
Marc Bergevin had a shocking statement when asked when Weber could play again.
“He won’t be back next season, and probably won’t be back for his career.”
That’s shocking considering Weber just willed the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals. Weber played in all 22 playoff games for Montreal scoring six points. Weber added another 19 points over 48 games during the regular season.
Weber has been one of the most consistent and respected defensemen in the NHL since he broke in with Nashville midway through the 2005-06 season. While he has never won a Stanley Cup, his career wasn’t short on accolades. Weber was selected to play in seven All-Star Games, was a two-time First Team and Second Team All-Star, and won Olympic gold medals with Team Canada in 2010 and 2014. I’ll never forget Weber’s dominance in the 2014 games when he scored the game-winning goal against Latvia and Kristers Gudļevskis, who played the game of his life and the best game I’ve ever watched for a goaltender.
If this postseason was Weber’s last ride, what a hell of a ride it was. I’m hoping that Weber will suit up for Montreal again. He still has another five years remaining on his contract, so he’s getting paid regardless.
5. Ekman-Larsson Traded to Vancouver
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Oliver Ekman-Larsson has finally been traded to the Vancouver Canucks. The trade had been rumored for what seems like forever. Ekman-Larsson, Arizona’s captain, and Connor Garland were shipped to Vancouver for Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, a 2021 first-round pick (Dylan Guenther), a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2023 seventh-round pick.
I’m sad Arizona traded Ekman-Larsson because now it would seem they’re back to tanking. Ekman-Larsson has been a staple in the desert for the last 11 years. That being said, he’s not cheap. Ekman-Larsson still has another six years left on his deal with a $8.25 million AAV.
For Vancouver, this is an all-in move. They now have Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, Bo Horvat, Ekman-Larsson, Tyler Myers, and Braden Holtby. At best, they’re the third-best team in their division behind the Oilers and Golden Knights.
I still like the move on Vancouver’s part. They have a great, young core and they’re going for it. Their young guys are still getting better and their window is only getting more wide open. Their division is just too hard. Vegas and Edmonton are not going to fall off any time soon. Vancouver will have to add another one or two great players to attempt to compete.
There’s nothing like a trade like this to get your blood flowing again. ■