The San Jose Sharks are set to lose a player to the Seattle Kraken in tomorrow’s expansion draft but without many notable players available, it's still up in the air as to who could be selected.
The only slight surprise with the Sharks’ protected list was that Ryan Donato was left unprotected, in favour of Jonathan Dahlen. The other main roster players exposed from the Sharks were Dylan Gambrell, Matt Nieto, Radim Simek and Martin Jones, with Christian Jaros, Nicolas Meloche and Alex True as other potential options for Seattle. From Seattle's perspective though, who would be the best player to select?
We can assume the Kraken will stay away from Jones, while Simek is unlikely to be selected as well, based on the value he brings compared to what he’s being paid. Given Matt Nieto is nearing 30 years old and is only a bottom-six forward, he’s also unlikely to be taken.
I think there’s a chance Seattle could take one of the prospects but when you compare their value against the likes of Donato or Gambrell, who are full-time NHL players at the same age or only slightly older, it seems less likely that any of Jaros, Meloche or True get taken.
This leaves Donato and Gambrell as the two most likely options for the Kraken. Donato scored 20 points in 50 games in his first season with the Sharks, while Gambrell had 12 points in 49 games this season.
With Donato, he can play in the middle-six but didn’t take much of a step with the Sharks, considering the opportunity he had with the lack of depth in the lineup. Gambrell, on the other hand, is the same age but seems unlikely to ever be more than a bottom-six center. It’s worth noting that he’s from the Seattle area and is under contract for next season (while Donato is a restricted free agent), but is that really enough of a reason for the Kraken to take Gambrell over Donato?
To me, Donato is the best player available. Both players have had their ups and downs and I’m not sure that I’d bank on either becoming a long-term fit with Seattle but looking strictly at who has the highest upside, the Kraken should probably go with Donato.
Who knows if that’s what will actually happen and honestly, I think it could go either way, but regardless, it seems highly likely that it’ll be either Donato or Gambrell who gets selected by Kraken.
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Who do you think is most likely to be selected by Seattle?