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Kraken With Gas -- Nothing Funny About Seattle's Draft
Curbing judgement on the Kraken Expansion Draft. Shea Weber's career update. Leafs' Dubas placing a big bet. The Zach Hyman contract debate.
And the winner is -- Ron Francis.
And the losers are -- the hundred-thousand "insiders" and outsiders who had everybody -- and especially Carey Price coming to Seattle.
If that sounds fishy to you; no matter. After all, wasn't it fun hearing that Tarasenko, Mosienko and maybe even Zach Hyman would be waving from atop The Space Needle.
So the headline forwards are Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde; the marquee defensemen are Adam Larsson and Mark Giordano.
Ah, the non-Carey goalies: Chris Driedger; will be better than Price next season. Vitek Vanecek; ditto on Price. Joey Daccord; he needs another year and will be an ace.
When I told my son, Simon, and grandson, Ariel, that this Seattle expansion roster reminds me of the 1972 Islanders, starring Ed Westfall and Billy Harris, they vetoed my comparison.
"The defense is better," argued Ariel.
Okay, okay but my point is that Francis is going for team rather than name. And for fiscal prudence rather than the kind of insanity in which the Maple Leafs revel with their Overpaid Parade led by Mitch (You Call That A Playoff) and John (The Isles Don't Miss Me) Tavares.
Of course, g.m. Francis has much moolah left over and plenty of time to wheel and deal and then deal and wheel. He and coach Dave Hakstol betray a low-key approach that fits this franchise to an "S" -- or "K," of you will.
Picking an appropriate tune for the NHL's newest franchise, I go with "Beyond The Blue Horizon," there's a beautiful Kraken.
Gee, I hope one of the "Insiders" hasn't scooped me on that.
HEADLINE: DON'T JUDGE THE EXPANSION KRAKEN JUST YET
THE JIVE: In this week's expansion draft, Seattle g.m. Ron Francis avoided temptation from modern-day Sam Pollocks. For those who don't remember "Trader Sam," the Canadiens boss in the 1960s and '70s, trolled the NHL's poorer neighborhoods, exchanging surplus players for top draft picks. That's how Montreal was able to select Guy Lafleur in 1971 with a pick the California Golden Seals should never have relinquished. Francis didn't succumb to similar siren songs named Tarasenko, van Riemsdyk, Landeskog, and Price. Such high-ticket exposed players and free agents undeniably would have provided more wins for the first-year Kraken than the players selected. But they would have plunged the franchise into the same salary-cap predicament so many teams are facing.
It's premature to assess the Kraken based on their picks alone - one of those selections, Tyler Pitlick, has already been traded to Calgary for a fourth-round draft choice. Further deals and free agency could still substantially alter the roster. What we can determine is that far from waving the white flag, assembling a less flashy group indicates the Kraken are preparing for the long game. The goal is a competitive team from day one, naturally - but also flexibility to contend for years to come. When Stan says he sees a parallel between this squad and the expansion Islanders of 1972, there's an unsaid compliment: the Isles would win their first of four consecutive championships just eight years later. Because league rules are more generous to newborn franchises these days, it's highly unlikely the Kraken will suffer a 12-60-6 season like the expansion Islanders did. Seattle's aim is to finish this decade as successfully as the lads on Long Island did in 1980.
Thanks again to our man in Seattle, Glenn Dreyfuss
HEADLINE: SHEA WEBER'S CAREER LIKELY DONE
THE JIVE: Yesterday, Canadiens g.m. Marc Bergevin announced to the public that Shea Weber “won’t be back next season, and probably won’t be back for his career,” after playing through ankle, knee, and thumb injuries throughout the year. Not only will this be a massive blow to the Habs, but if Weber does indeed retire rather than going on LTIR, the Nashville Predators, the team that signed him, would be charged $4.9M/year for five years, while Montreal would be facing a penalty of $543K/year for five years.
HEADLINE: LEAFS BOSS WANTS TO MAKE A BET.
THE JIVE: According to Kyle Dubas -- he's still Maple Leafs g.m. -- he's not only confident about his lineup, he's even willing to wager on it. The bespectacled boss says he's "willing to bet everything on the Leafs core." Which -- roughly translated -- means he's betting his job; and perhaps even Brendan Shanahan's.
HEADLINE: TAYLOR HALL LIKES THE BRUINS
THE JIVE: You would too. Sure, the erstwhile Hart Trophy-winner should re-sign with the Beantowners. "Why?" you ask. "Because it ain't Buffalo!" That's my answer. Look, the guy fits Boston like its beans. The Bruins could use his shot and restored love for scoring. And, really, if you subtract the Western New York State debacle, Taylor is a neat guy, very good player and has found a haven on the Charlies River; which incidentally has no known Kraken swimming around scaring Bruins fans.
HEADLINE: SEATTLE'S DRAFT PRODUCES RECORD-BREAKING LEAKS
THE JIVE: No names at the Cafe Discreet, but on Expansion Draft Day, one well-known "Insider" had "broken" 18 names by 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time. Just about every "insider" short of Tommy McVie had a scoop. This prompted one of my closest non-insider buddies to produce the perfect squelch: "I call the Canadian media fascination with breaking news, 'The Race To Nowhere!' " To which, The Maven adds, Bullseye!
HEADLINE: WHEN INSANITY IS LOGICAL
THE JIVE: The numbers tell you that Zach Hyman is an average hockey player. The facts tell you that he's King of the Intangibles but that he's never come even remotely close to playing for a Stanley Cup-winner. With this knowledge, you have to wonder whether the Oilers possibly signing the wonderful Jewish kid to an eight year-deal is a sign of contractual insanity. I mean we're talking about a 29 year-old second-to-third liner who'll be 37 when the contract runs out.
But by Edmonton standards it makes sense. For one thing the club has the dough. For another thing, the Oilers are desperate to improve. And for a third thing, take away the McDavid-Draisaitl cartel and what do you have? As my buddy-ex-Hockey New editor, Tom Murray liked to say, "Not a whole helluva lot." Or, as we used to say in Old Brooklyn, "When one is hard-up, one does anything."
Bottom Line: Hyman will be good for Edmonton because he's aces at what he does and is a team type of guy. And think about it, he could have opted for more romantic cities such as Vancouver or Los Angeles or even the warmth of Arizona. But he chose a burgh where hockey weather rules. It can be darn cold in Eddietown. Real hockey players like that. Zach, a genuine mensch, is that kind of kid.
Good for Kenny Holland and good for Hyman.