The Chicago Blackhawks, along with the rest of the National Hockey League, are preparing to submit their protected list to the Seattle Kraken ahead of the 2021 Expansion Draft. Each team can submit a list of either seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie, or eight skaters and a goalie. It is an interesting conversation for the Blackhawks because some hard decisions are needed.
It is impossible to predict exactly who they are going to go with but we are going to give it a try. It is fair to assume that they are going to go the route of seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie. They don’t have a good enough defense to sacrifice extra forwards for them. Players that are on entry-level contracts are exempt from this draft so you won’t see anyone like Kirby Dach protected or exposed.
F – Jonathan Toews
F – Patrick Kane
F – Alex DeBrincat
F – Dominik Kubalik
F – Dylan Strome
F – Henrik Borgstrom
F – Pius Suter
D – Connor Murphy
D – Caleb Jones
D – Riley Stillman
G – Kevin Lankinen
You might be surprised by some of the selections here. They may decide to protect someone like Calvin deHaan in favor of Riley Stillman but that would be a bad idea. He is an often injured older defenseman that only has one year left on his deal. The Hawks signed Stillman to a long-term contract for a reason. Nikita Zadorov is also someone for Seattle to consider if they want to take a Blackhawks defenseman.
As for the forwards, the top ones are obvious. It would make more sense to protect players like Borgstrom and Suter instead of players like Brandon Hagel, David Kampf, or Adam Gaudette. Those are good players but every team is going to lose a pretty good player. It makes more sense to leave those guys unprotected and give the younger players a chance.
Kevin Lankinen is the obvious goalie to protect. Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban are both exposed as each team needs to have at least one available. After the Expansion Draft is over, you can expect them to sign a backup (or 1A) in free agency to help Lankinen out.
The Chicago Blackhawks are going to lose a talented player to the Seattle Kraken.
With all of the talent around the NHL, the Seattle Kraken have a chance to put together a very formidable team in 2021-22. They also play in the very weak Pacific Division so you just never know. You can assume that they will make a trade or two during the Expansion Draft as well which is what helped the Vegas Golden Knights be so successful.
Add in the fact that they have the second overall pick and it looks even better. The Blackhawks need to do whatever means necessary to make sure they handle this well. They are in a very important phase of their “retool” and this Seattle Kraken business is a big part of it.