Canucks: Which player is most likely to be taken by the Seattle Kraken?

Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks will lose one player to the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft. Which player is most likely to go?

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning didn’t have that many impactful players to protect at the 2017 Vegas Expansion Draft.

The Canucks were in rebuilding mode at the time, and Benning probably didn’t break a sweat when it came to deciding which 11 players to protect. The Vegas Golden Knights wound up selecting defenceman Luca Sbisa, who never developed into the reliable top-four blueliner the Canucks had hoped for.

But things will be different at the 2021 Expansion Draft. The Canucks are an up-and-coming team that hope to contend for the Stanley Cup over the next five or so years.

All 31 teams will have two options: Protect eight forwards, three defencemen and a goalie or eight skaters (forwards and defencemen) and one goalie.

You know the Canucks will protect Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser J.T. Miller and Thatcher Demko. Jake Virtanen isn’t quite a lock, but I’d expect Vancouver to protect him as well. Quinn Hughes will be exempt, so Benning won’t have to use a protection slot on him.

On defence, Tyler Myers and Nate Schmidt feel like the only safe bets to receive protection.

With that taken into account, I think there are four fairly strong candidates to be taken by Seattle: Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Loui Eriksson and Braden Holtby.

Demko is obviously the goalie of the future. But if Holtby regains his All-Star form in Vancouver, maybe Benning would offer Seattle a draft pick and/or player in exchange for staying away from Holtby?

On the flip side, what if Holtby struggles in his first season with the Canucks? Seattle would probably look at other options in goal. Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights, for example, might be a more attractive option to the Kraken.

Beagle and Roussel are renowned for their leadership skills and strong work ethics. Seattle will surely want character players to build the team, so either of them could appeal to general manager Ron Francis.

Don’t forget that both Beagle and Roussel will only carry one year left on their contracts when the Expansion Draft comes around, too.

But I also wouldn’t rule out Eriksson, who will also have just one year left of his contract. The cap-strapped Canucks could bribe the Kraken with a draft pick, another roster player and/or a decent prospect in order to get out of his $6 million cap hit.

That’s probably not an avenue the Canucks want to go down, however. So when all is said and done, I’d say Roussel and Beagle are the early leading candidates to go from Vancouver to Seattle next year.

Next. Canucks: Quinn Hughes will dominate next season. dark

If I’m Seattle, I would probably take Roussel given that he’s four years younger and has a little more offensive upside. But again, it’s way too early to guess how this will all play out. Benning and the Canucks have all the time in the world to decide on their plans ahead of the expansion draft, after all.