Kraken roster begins to take shape with reported signings

We’ll find out the bulk of the Seattle Kraken roster Wednesday night during the NHL expansion draft. In the meantime, general manager Ron Francis is making the most out of the exclusive window to speak to pending unrestricted free agents who were left unprotected by their teams.

According to several sources, Adam Larsson, Chris Driedger, and Jamie Oleksiak will be part of the initial Kraken roster.

Francis has two spots on his blue line taken with Larsson, who spent the past five seasons with the Oilers, on a four-year, $16M contract (per Darren Dreger), and Oleksiak, now a former member of the Stars (per Frank Seravalli).

We’ll see how the Kraken crease shapes up and if Francis does indeed take Carey Price, but in the meantime Chris Driedger will be a fine addition, according to Elliotte Friedman. The goaltender who broke out with the Panthers in 2020-21 is expected to sign a three-year, $10.5M deal.

All three players will count as selections for their former teams. Francis will need to create a roster featuring at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies.

The Kraken had a 10 a.m. ET Wednesday deadline to submit their 30 expansion draft selections ahead of the big reveal.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Stars’ Ben Bishop agrees to waive no-trade clause for expansion draft

Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop is willing to waive his no-trade clause, making him available in next week’s expansion draft according to a report from Mathew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News.

Bishop’s willingness to do that clears what could have been a big headache for the Stars heading into Wednesday’s draft.

Players that have no-trade clauses have to be protected from the expansion draft unless they agree to waive them. Being forced to protect Bishop would have created a scenario where Dallas would have had to expose Anton Khudobin, which is almost certainly not the direction they would have wanted to go. Khudobin has been a key piece for the Stars the past two seasons and figures to be part of their long-term plan in goal alongside Jake Oetinger (who is exempt from the expansion draft) after his promising rookie season.

Bishop did not play at all during the 2020-21 season as he recovered from offseason surgery.

He has two years remaining on a contract that carries a salary cap hit of $4.916 million per season.

He presents an interesting situation for Seattle.

[Related: Lessons Kraken, rest of NHL can take from Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft]

On one hand, when he is healthy he is one of the best goalies in the NHL and could be a difference-maker for any team. If you wanted to try and draw a parralel to the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft process he could, in theory, be their version of Marc-Andre Fleury. A veteran, high level goalie that can show up immediately and be a stabilizing presence in the net for a team that might have some flaws. Goalies are always X-factors for teams.

How good has Bishop been?

Of the 36 goalies that appeared in at least 100 games between 2017-18 and 2019-20 (Bishop’s first three years in Dallas) he ranked second in the NHL in all situations save percentage (.923), tied for fourth in even-strength save percentage (.924), fourth in penalty kill save percentage (.889), and third in shutouts (14). Across every objective measure he has been one of the best goalies in the league and has been a Vezina Trophy finalist three different times, including a runner-up two different times. That most recently happened during the 2018-19 season in Dallas.

On paper the Kraken should be very interested in that.

The concern though would be the fact he is going to be 35 years old this season, has not played in over a year, is coming off major surgery, and still carries a pretty significant contract.

There is a potentially high reward here. But there is also a high risk.

If Seattle does not go for Bishop, Florida’s Chris Driedger (who is eligible for unrestricted free agency, and a player they would have an opportunity to negotiate with ahead of the expansion draft) could be another intriguing option.

Several other teams have made moves ahead of the expansion draft regarding players with no-trade clauses. Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner has already agreed to waive his, while Minnesota bought out Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Florida also bought out Keith Yandle on Thursday.