Kraken reportedly passing on Price, Tarasenko in NHL expansion draft

The game of chicken between Ron Francis and Marc Bergevin will end with Carey Price not heading to the Seattle Kraken.

According to a number of NHL insiders, the Kraken will use their Canadiens pick on defenseman Cale Fleury.

The news over the weekend that Price had been exposed by the Canadiens was a bit of an eyebrow raiser, but then it came out that he might require knee surgery and miss a large chunk of the 2021-22 NHL season. Still, there was a small case to make for him being drafted. Price would have been a “face of the franchise” type player, played junior hockey in Washington State, and was born in British Columbia.

But the case against drafting Price was obvious. He will be 34 in August, has five more years remaining on a contract that carries a $10.5M salary cap hit, and his game has been trending downward since his Vezina Trophy win in 2014-15.

Another star player the Kraken will be passing on is Vladimir Tarasenko. The 29-year-old forward has requested a trade out of St. Louis and was left unprotected by the Blues. Defenseman Vince Dunn, who is a pending restricted free agent, will reportedly be Seattle’s pick.

Tarasenko has two years left on his contract with a $7.5M cap hit. There were reports that teams were contacting Francis to inform him of their interest in making a trade should they pick the Blues forward. Now that Tarasenko will remain in St. Louis for the time being, GM Doug Armstrong can at least attempt to get assets in return.

Roster news slowly dripping out

The leaks are coming out hours before Wednesday’s expansion draft show. Jared McCann, Brandon Tanev, Carsen Twarynski, Mark Giordano, Vitek Vanecek, and Joey Daccord appear to be heading to Seattle. That news follows reports of Francis agreeing to sign defensemen Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak, along with goaltender Chris Driedger.

Seattle’s expansion draft roster must feature 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 to the NHL.

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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.

Dave Hakstol is, surprisingly, Seattle Kraken’s first head coach

Well, few saw this coming. The Seattle Kraken has named Dave Hakstol as their first head coach on Thursday.

During the interview process, Rick Tocchet emerged as one of the favorites to become the Seattle Kraken’s first head coach. For many, that was already a perplexing choice. Did Tocchet really enjoy that much success? Didn’t it seem like the Kraken were leaning in an analytics-driven direction with their front office and team?

Well, they did get a pretty movie-trailer-friendly intro for Hakstol, who apparently decided to release the goatee:

Dave Hakstol

Kraken surprisingly name Hakstol as first head coach

Similarly, the Kraken hiring Hakstol is quite the head-scratcher.

From 2015-16 through a portion of the 2018-19 season, Hakstol coached the Flyers. The results were largely underwhelming. Under Hakstol, the Flyers went 134-101-42 in the regular season. They made two playoff appearances, failing to win a single series.

Not too surprisingly, the Kraken mostly focused on Hakstol’s experiences as a successful NCAA coach for North Dakota with this graphic:

Following his time as Flyers head coach, Hakstol spent time as a Maple Leafs assistant. But it seems like Hakstol truly made an impression on Francis when the two were together with at the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

Francis seemed to indirectly acknowledge Hakstol’s growing pains as Flyers head coach, indicating that it readied Hakstol for this challenge.

“As a first-time coach in the NHL, you have to learn the league.” Francis said. “It is fast-paced and a challenge to adjust on the fly. I think with the first situation in Philly and the years with [head coaches Mike] Babcock and [Sheldon] Keefe, Dave is comfortable with understanding the league.”

Whether Hakstol is the right call for the Kraken or not, it was important to get their first head coach hiring in place. The team can now focus on the expansion draft, free agency, and the 2021 NHL Draft — and Hakstol can put in his two cents.

Is Hakstol the sort of head coach who can lead the Kraken to a strong start as an expansion team? They’re betting that it will go better than his time with the Flyers.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.