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The Edge of Lori: July 26, 2021

Dash had a big week watching the birth of the Seattle Kraken. – Courtesy of via Instagram

NHL Noise

The Seattle Kraken expansion draft took place on Wednesday, July 21, and much of the construction of the NHL’s 32nd team was revealed in an oceanside ceremony. Just kidding. The picks were all known by noon due to leaks to the press, so the ceremony had all the excitement of your Nanny knitting slippers. Nonetheless, the days leading up to the draft were drama-filled.

The team creating the most turbulence was the Montreal Canadiens. Fans thought the biggest risk would be losing backup netminder Jake Allen to Seattle, but like a smoke detector in the middle of the night the announcements started coming. The first wail was news that Captain Shea Weber required career-threatening surgery. Then came a second wail. Carey Price would be exposed – his idea – to protect Allen. The Habs gambled that Price’s giant contract and injury concerns would be unappealing. The strategy worked, and Seattle selected young defenceman Cale Fleury instead.

The Toronto Maple Leafs created a commotion of their own. Anticipating they would lose Alex Kerfoot in the draft, they traded for Jared McCann and then exposed both to Seattle. This left them comfortable that they would have a third-line centre when all was said and done, and they could protect four defencemen. Their strategy kind of worked when the Kraken selected McCann, who is the better of the two.

In Calgary the story was Captain Mark Giordano being exposed. The 37-year-old has played 949 games for the Flames, the second-most in franchise history. He’s also been the second-longest captain. Trailing only Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla in those categories, it was a tough call, but GM Brad Treliving was expected to shake up his roster identity a little this summer, and he got a kick start when the Kraken took Giordano.

Another defender’s selection was more of a shocker. The Edmonton Oilers, fresh off trading for Duncan Keith, were rumoured to be in contract talks with Adam Larsson. The two were expected to form a pair in the Oilers top four. GM Ken Holland left the UFA exposed with several offers on the table. The Kraken used the opportunity to claim and sign Larsson to a new deal. Holland is off to a roaring start to the off-season.

The Ottawa Senators lost goalie Joey Daccord in the draft. GM Pierre Dorion had left veteran forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Chris Tierney unprotected, hoping the Kraken would bite. But Seattle chose Daccord as one of three young goalies to help build their new team. The Sens are in building mode, so the loss wasn’t earth-shattering.

Young forward Kole Lind was the Kraken selection from the Vancouver Canucks. GM Jim Benning may have been hoping for a miracle when he left goaltender Braden Holtby unprotected, but Seattle GM Ron Francis opted for another young player with upside. The Kraken will host the Canucks for their first home game in October, and a healthy rivalry may be on tap here.

The Winnipeg Jets also lost a young forward. Mason Appleton broke out this season in his first full year in the NHL, but the Jets had a large group of forwards to protect. They also left defenceman Dylan DeMelo unprotected, and between the two GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is probably content to keep the young defender who was a very important player for them in the post-season.

An early glance at Seattle’s draft choices begged some questions. After the Vegas expansion, fans were expecting the Kraken to run off with great assets. After Wednesday, the roster had some nice pieces, but it was expected that in the days following the draft side deals would be revealed where teams agreed to other trades if the Kraken would make a specific pick. Those will be known by the time you read this.

Perhaps the biggest news on draft day was the big names that Seattle avoided like a case of head lice. Matt Duchene, Vladimir Tarasenko, P.K. Subban, Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin were among the those available and rejected by Francis. Each will be the subject of trade rumours until moved or the puck drops again.

The NHL Entry Draft took place after press deadline on July 23 and 24. You can look forward to some analysis in my next column. We’ll also look at the early moves in free agency, which opens on Wednesday, July 28.

Blue Jays Babble

The Blue Jays are returning to Toronto. The federal government has granted the Jays a “national interest exemption” to allow MLB teams to cross the border to play. Games have not been played at the Rogers Centre since 2019, and the first home game will occur on July 30th against the Kansas City Royals. That also happens to be trade deadline day, so it promises to be a big one in Toronto.

There is a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, and in Toronto that light is baby blue.

Lori Bennett is a social worker, policy professional, recreation softball player and coach, and newbie ukulele-ist. A Newfoundlander living in Toronto, Lori loves a good hockey chat, just as long as it remains respectful. Find her on twitter as @lori10habs.

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