Expansion Draft Hockey Hot Sauce x Healthy Skratch Draft NHL

Kraken Bait – Central Division

(Photo credit – NHL.com)

Welcome back to the Healthy Skratch, Hot Sauce and Life & Fantasy collaborative series! In it, we’ll breakdown each division in the NHL and make our picks for who will be fed to the Kraken! The L&F Starting Line up series has been absolute blast so why not double dip! You will hear from the full Healthy Skratch line up in Spence, Kris and Tyler along with fellow Hot Sauce writer Jon Eamon, and finally Life and Fantasy’s Jared Tweedie and Kaveh Ghidy – who will be drafting a team together.

The breakdown is pretty straight forward, using the NHL’s Expansion Rules each person must draft at minimum 14 forward, 8 defenseman and 3 goalies. Each team will have to fit within the current NHL salary cap (Cap ceiling $81.5M, give or take some savvy GM cap manipulating). There are no restrictions in terms of the minimum numbers of players nor salary cap per division. The only thing to remember is Rule #1:

Don’t talk about Fight Club.

If you missed our previous segments, here are our breakdowns:

Metropolitan Division
Atlantic Division

We’ve never seen a Kraken on land before but if Tunas can develop a series breathing apparatus’ with kelp that gives them hour, hour 45 tops on land to kill Lions, then why can’t a Kraken reach Central USA and Winnipeg? Here are our picks for the Central Division!

Cap numbers provided by CapFriendly.com

Healthy Skratch – Spence Plamondon

Chicago Blackhawks – Adam Gaudette
Colorado Avalanche – Joonas Donskoi
Dallas Stars – Ben Bishop
Minnesota Wild – Kaapo Kahkonen
Nashville Predators – Calle Jankrok
St Louis Blues – Vladimir Tarasenko
Winnipeg Jets – Dylan Demelo

Adam Gaudette is my pick out of Chicago. He’s a player who’s overachieved every step of the way. He didn’t have the best season this year, but I like him as a guy who shows up with a chip on his shoulder and seizes on a bigger role. Joonas Donskoi comes on board from Colorado. He’s a versatile forward who can slot in anywhere in the Top 9.

Vladimir Tarasenko from St. Louis steps onboard as our top line sniper. He’s hungry for a new opportunity, and we need goals, baby. To round things out, Dylan DeMelo is my pick from Winnipeg. I’m surprised they left him unprotected, he’s been a real stabilizing presence on their blue line, and lord knows they need it. He’ll slot in nicely with the Kraken.

From Dallas, Ben Bishop comes on board. I’m fully expecting him to be on LTIR this year, but if he’s able to get back to 100% that’s a hell of a goalie on a good contract. Going goalie again, I’m taking Kaapo Kahkonen to team up with Chris Driedger as my goalie duo. Calle Jarnkrok comes onboard from Nashville, offering up underrated skill and versatility.

Healthy Skratch – Kristian Galvez-Johnson

Chicago Blackhawks – Adam Gaudette
Colorado Avalanche – Joonas Donskoi
Dallas Stars – Ben Bishop
Minnesota Wild – Kaapo Kahkonen
Nashville Predators – Rocco Grimaldi
St Louis Blues – Vladimir Tarasenko
Winnipeg Jets – Dylan Demelo

Adam Gaudette has not lived up to expectations but I don’t think either teams he has been on really gives us a good indication of what he is. Cheap deal and a high reward for something so low risk. Worth it.

Joonas Donskoi is a good player, but I’d take him and move him to a team in need of depth scoring. Even without a trade he can serve in the middle six and serve it well. When he’s hot, he’s hot.

Ben Bishop can be a starter if he’s healthy. If is a large part of the equation. He did not play all last season, is aging and has a bad injury history. If Driedger does not sign, this is a good plan B. Kaapo Kahkonen is the second easiest pick in this draft. Played so well for the Wild all year and makes 725K next season. He’s an easy bet to help this team be competitive right away.

Rocco Grimaldi is small but damn is he effective as a depth scorer. I can see him doing really well in increased minutes.

Vladimir Tarasenko is available somehow. What a miscalculation for the Blues. We know what happened with his shoulder so theres much hope that he can be that 40 goal guy again. I pick him and I keep him.

Ah the Jets. Needing defenders last year they acquired the best one available and got him to stay long term. I think he was their best blue liner this year and I have no idea why Logan Stanley is protected over DeMelo. Who cares, choice is easy for Seattle.

Healthy Skratch – Tyler O’Connor

Chicago Blackhawks – Adam Gaudette
Colorado Avalanche – Joonas Donskoi
Dallas Stars – Jamie Oleksiak
Minnesota Wild – Kaapo Kahkonen
Nashville Predators – Rocco Grimaldi
St Louis Blues – Vladimir Tarasenko
Winnipeg Jets –
Dylan Demelo

From the Chicago Blackhawks I would select Adam Gaudette. A talented forward who never really got on his feet in Vancouver but looked good in his very short stint after being traded to Chicago. Seems to be another “could use a change of scenery” kind of player. His upside is very intriguing.

From the Colorado Avalanche I would select Joonas Donskoi. A very responsible winger who can play up and down the lineup. Would slot in perfectly on Seattle’s second line. He isn’t the flashiest of players, but he’s someone you can trust when out on the ice.

From the Dallas Stars I would select Jamie Oleksiak. A big man on the blue line who can skate deceptively well. He’s nothing flashy and won’t produce much on the scoresheet, but he’s solid. You could be left with worse players defending your net. ​

From the Minnesota Wild I would select Kaapo Kahkonen. A 24-year-old goalie who has been solid since coming to the NHL. Nothing crazy but signs point to him being a perfect backup. From the Nashville Predators I would select Rocco Grimaldi. A pesky little forward who can skate like the wind.

From the St Louis Blues I would select Vladimir Tarasenko. Look, there are plenty of questions surrounding his health, but when you get the chance to snag a player of his caliber, you jump on it 11 times out of 10. At his peak, he was a lethal goal scorer, and many believe he can get back to that level. Worse comes to worse, there would be plenty of takers if things don’t work out and Seattle decided they wanted to move on from him.

From the Winnipeg Jets I would select Dylan DeMelo. No one knows why Winnipeg has left him exposed. He’s a very good defenseman who can transition the puck very well. Winnipeg will regret leaving him unprotected, Seattle will owe them a gift basket.

L&F – Jared Tweedie & Kaveh Ghidy

Chicago Blackhawks – Malcolm Subban
Colorado Avalanche – Gabriel Landeskog
Dallas Stars – Sami Vatanen
Minnesota Wild – Kaapo Kahkonen
Nashville Predators – Erik Haula
St Louis Blues – Vince Dunn
Winnipeg Jets – Tucker Poolman

Malcolm Subban comes on as a depth goalie out of Chicago. From Colorado, we bring in Gabriel Landeskog. Go big or go home! We’re looking for a hometown discount. Gabe’s a cool guy, he’ll get it. Seattle is the Sweden of the US, everyone knows that. 6.5M deal. From Dallas we’re taking Sami Vatanen and signing him to a 1.5M show-me deal.

Kaapo Kahkonen is our pick out of Minnesota, likely becoming our #1 goalie. Nashville brings us Erik Haula who, you guessed it, signs a 1.25M show-me deal. From St. Louis we’re taking Vince Dunn and signing him to a 3M deal. Finally, from Winnipeg, Tucker Poolman comes in for the show but is quickly shown the door and allowed to walk to free agency.

Hot Sauce – Jon Eamon

Chicago Blackhawks – Adam Gaudette
Colorado Avalanche – Joonas Donskoi
Dallas Stars – Ben Bishop
Minnesota Wild – Kaapo Kahkonen
Nashville Predators – Yakov Trenin
St Louis Blues – Vladimir Tarasenko
Winnipeg Jets – Dylan Demelo

It is pretty awesome to see how similar all of our picks were. The primary difference being Nashville and no one took Johansen nor Duchene. Let’s get back to who was chosen, starting off with former Hobey Baker winner Adam Gaudette. Seattle benefits from a down season for Gaudette which will allow them to sign him to a value bridge contract in a ‘bet on yourself’ situation for the talented young center. The depth at Center for Seattle to chose from is slim pickings, so they need to take a chance on a young player in the hopes that he develops into a top-6 player.

For the Avalanche there was a lot of thought put into signing Gabriel Landeskog and making him the first Captain in franchise history. I kept the door open from a cap stand point but ultimately I think that Seattle goes with Donskoi. A two way player on a fair (possibly value) contract that can defend and play on the Power Play.

The next two picks were goalies to solidify the crease with Driedger. Kaapo Kahkonen being left exposed was probably the most surprising name to see on the list. His win streak during the regular season was a glimpse at what teams can expect from Kahkonen and can is trending in the right direction to become a full time starter. A Driedger/Kahkonen 1-2 punch in nets is a great starting point for Seattle and no disrespect to Ben Bishop but he is trade bait. Bishop still has value in this league as a starting goalie, and the the Kraken can eat ~$2.5M in retained salary in order to pick up assets.

Taking Yakov Trenin from Nashville is a bit of a gamble but he is well worth the risk given his skill and contract. Nashville left a few big names with heavy price tags exposed in the hopes that Seattle takes one of them, however I would rather take a chance on a player who is trending up with potentially a ton of run way as opposed to two established vets who have not lived up to their contracts.

From St Louis you have to take Tarasenko. Vince Dunn was enticing however it’s not every day a first line player is available. The cap hit is less desirable, however it’s not every day you can get some game breaking talent for free. Injury concerns are a real threat but it’s worth the risk if he can return even remotely close to form.

To round out the Central division I went with Dylan Demelo who was inexplicably left unprotected. He is a top 4 defenseman that can compliment any style partner and he may not turn heads on the ice, but that is what makes him valuable. I am genuinely confused as to why he was not protected, especially considering his cap hit is only $3M.

We will be back tomorrow with our final picks for the Pacific division leading up to the NHL’s Expansion Draft! Who’s team do you like best so far? Is there a player we missed? Let us know in the comments and check back in before the party!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce Family and visit our Youtube channel for all the latest podcasts and videos! This week on Weekly Sauce Terry and Alex are joined by Montreal Alouettes OL Tony Washington to talk CFL, pre-game routine, his favourite city and food!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: