Ron Francis is on the clock.
The Seattle Kraken's general manager gets to pick 30 players in the expansion draft to build out the roster for the NHL's 32nd franchise. Those selections get unveiled Wednesday.
Francis has some big decisions to make on how many big-money stars and their sizeable contracts to take on, what risks to take on younger, less-proven players and which side deals are worth it to stockpile assets as the Vegas Golden Knights did at their expansion draft in 2017.
In four years as Carolina's GM, Francis did not make a lot of big splashes and preferred a more conservative approach to rebuilding the Hurricanes. Only after his departure did they develop into the kind of perennial playoff contender he envisioned.
Building Seattle from scratch is a different kind of challenge and could alter the way Francis manages the situation. In a matter of days, the Kraken will have the bulk of their team for their inaugural season — all from the choices the Hall of Fame player makes at the center of the hockey universe.
Montreal goaltender Carey Price. St. Louis winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano.
There's a Stanley Cup title, an Olympic gold medal and a lot of NHL hardware on their resumes and little doubt they'd help the Kraken win a lot of games in their first season. But Price is signed for a salary cap hit of $10.5 million for the next five years, Tarasenko $7.5 million for two and Giordano $6.75 million for one more.
Price alone would take up almost 13 percent of the $81.5 million cap, and he's the only player counting $10 million or more to win a playoff round since the limit went into place in 2005-06. Take all three and that's almost a third of the available space.
Of course Price could be the face of the franchise like Marc-Andre Fleury was for the Golden Knights, and he has roots in the area. The combination of his abilities on the ice and potential to be Seattle's most marketable star should make Francis think long and hard about the possibility.
He could also flip Tarasenko, who asked the Blues for a trade and wants to go to a contender. Maybe that's the Kraken right away.
George McPhee fleeced some colleagues around the league as Vegas' first GM four years ago, adding prospects and draft picks in a handful of trades around the expansion draft. Francis is hampered by that history and the desire by many not to repeat it, but there's still some potential for deals.
Back-to-back champion Tampa Bay is desperate to clear cap space and could sweeten the deal for the Kraken to take Spokane native Tyler Johnson, who's signed for three more seasons at $5 million annually. Maybe it's a draft pick or another pricey player who could give Seattle a boost and the Lightning some cap relief.
Cap-strapped Toronto also would make sense after leaving Alexander Kerfoot and newly acquired Jared McCann exposed. The Maple Leafs have $75 million committed to 18 players for next season and could use a little help lightening the load to keep their Cup-contending window open, even at the expense of the future.
The Canadiens exposing Price instead of backup Jake Allen fresh off their run to the final is the early leader for stunner of the offseason. Columbus also exposed forward Max Domi less than 10 months after trading for him, and Carolina left 20-goal scorer Nino Niederreiter unprotected — perhaps hoping Seattle doesn't want him at $5.25 million.
There were some other mini surprises around the league, like Washington protecting little-used Trevor van Riemsdyk over second-pairing defensemen Justin Schultz and Brendan Dillon, and St. Louis letting the Kraken choose between Tarasenko and rumor mill staple Vince Dunn.
Philadelphia exposed Trevor's brother James van Riemsdyk after a 17-goal, 43-point season, but his $7 million cap hit could scare Francis away, especially if he's willing to take on other big contracts.
NHL Expansion Draft
Available Players List
Expansion Draft: Wednesday
ANAHEIM — Forwards: Andrew Agozzino, David Backes, Sam Carrick, Chase De Leo, Ryan Getzlaf, Derek Grant, Danton Heinen, Adam Henrique, Vinni Lettieri, Sonny Milano, Andrew Poturalski, Carter Rowney, Nick Sorensen, Alexander Volkov. Defensemen: Trevor Carrick, Haydn Fleury, Brendan Guhle, Jacob Larsson, Josh Mahura, Kevin Shattenkirk, Andy Welinski. Goalies: Ryan Miller, Anthony Stolarz.
ARIZONA — Forwards: Derick Brassard, Michael Bunting, Brayden Burke, Michael Chaput, Hudson Fasching, Christian Fischer, Frederik Gauthier, John Hayden, Dryden Hunt, Andrew Ladd, Lane Pederson, Tyler Pitlick, Blake Speers, Tyler Steenbergen. Defensemen: Jason Demers, Cam Dineen, Alex Goligoski, Jordan Gross, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Ilya Lyubushkin, Dysin Mayo, Aaron Ness, Jordan Oesterle, Vili Saarijarvi. Goalies: Josef Korenar, Marek Langhamer, Antti Raanta.
BOSTON — Forwards: Anton Blidh, Paul Carey, Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Taylor Hall, Cameron Hughes, Ondrej Kase, Alex Khokhlachev, Joona Koppanen, David Krejci, Karson Kuhlman, Sean Kuraly, Curtis Lazar, Greg McKegg, Nick Ritchie, Zach Senyshyn, Chris Wagner. Defensemen: Linus Arnesson Connor Clifton, Steven Kampfer, Jeremy Lauzon, Kevan Miller, John Moore, Mike Reilly, Jarred Tinordi, Jakub Zboril. Goalies: Callum Booth, Jaroslav Halak, Tuukka Rask.
BUFFALO — Forwards: Drake Caggiula, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Cody Eakin, Steven Fogarty, Zemgus Girgensons, Andrew Oglevie, Kyle Okposo, Tobias Rieder, Riley Sheahan, Jeff Skinner, C.J. Smith, Defensemen: Will Borgen. Brandon Davidson, Matt Irwin, Jake McCabe, Colin Miller, Casey Nelson. Goalies: Michael Houser, Carter Hutton, Dustin Tokarski.
CALGARY — Forwards: Byron Froese, Glenn Gawdin, Justin Kirkland, Josh Leivo, Milan Lucic, Joakim Nordstrom, Matthew Phillips, Zac Rinaldo, Brett Ritchie, Buddy Robinson, Derek Ryan, Dominik Simon, Defensemen: Mark Giordano, Oliver Kylington, Nikita Nesterov, Alexander Petrovic, Michael Stone, Goalies: Louis Domingue, Tyler Parsons.
CAROLINA — Forwards: Morgan Geekie, Steven Lorentz, Jordan Martinook, Max McCormick, Brock McGinn, Nino Niederreiter, Cedric Paquette, Sheldon Rempal, Drew Shore, Spencer Smallman. Defensemen: Jake Bean, Jake Gardiner, Eric Gelinas, Jani Hakanpaa, Dougie Hamilton, Maxime Lajoie, Roland McKeown, Joakim Ryan, David Warsofsky. Goalies: Antoine Bibeau, Jeremy Helvig, Petr Mrazek, James Reimer, Dylan Wells.
CHICAGO — Forwards: Ryan Carpenter, Brett Connolly, Josh Dickinson, Adam Gaudette, Vinnie Hinostroza, Brandon Pirri, John Quenneville, Zack Smith. Defensemen: Calvin de Haan, Anton Lindholm, Nikita Zadorov. Goalies: Collin Delia, Malcolm Subban.
COLORADO — Forwards: Travis Barron, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Matt Calvert, J.T. Compher, Joonas Donskoi, Sheldon Dries, Vladislav Kamenev, Gabriel Landeskog, Ty Lewis, Jayson Megna, Liam O’Brien, Brandon Saad, Miikka Salomaki, Kiefer Sherwood, Carl Soderberg, T.J. Tynan, Mike Vecchione. Defensemen: Kyle Burroughs, Dennis Gilbert, Erik Johnson, Jacob MacDonald, Patrik Nemeth, Dan Renouf. Goalies: Devan Dubnyk, Jonas Johansson, Hunter Miska.
COLUMBUS — Forwards: Zac Dalpe, Max Domi, Nathan Gerbe, Mikhail Grigorenko, Ryan MacInnis, Stefan Matteau, Cliff Pu, Kole Sherwood, Kevin Stenlund, Calvin Thurkauf, Daniel Zaar. Defensemen: Gavin Bayreuther, Gabriel Carlsson, Adam Clendening, Michael Del Zotto, Scott Harrington, Dean Kukan. Goalies: Cameron Johnson.
DALLAS — Forwards: Nick Caamano, Andrew Cogliano, Blake Comeau, Justin Dowling, Tanner Kero, Joel L’Esperance, Adam Mascherin, Matej Stransky. Defensemen: Taylor Fedun, Ben Gleason, Joel Hanley, Niklas Hansson, Julius Honka, Jamie Oleksiak, Mark Pysyk, Andrej Sekera, Sami Vatanen. Goalies: Ben Bishop, Landon Bow, Colton Point.
DETROIT — Forwards: Riley Barber, Kyle Criscuolo, Turner Elson, Valtteri Filppula, Sam Gagner, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Taro Hirose, Vladislav Namestnikov, Frans Nielsen, Bobby Ryan, Evgeny Svechnikov, Dominic Turgeon, Hayden Verbeek. Defensemen: Alex Biega, Dennis Cholowski, Danny DeKeyser, Christian Djoos, Joe Hicketts, Dylan McIlrath, Marc Staal, Troy Stecher. Goalies: Jonathan Bernier, Kevin Boyle, Kaden Fulcher, Calvin Pickard.
EDMONTON — Forwards: Tyler Benson, Alex Chiasson, Adam Cracknell, Tyler Ennis, Joseph Gambardella, Seth Griffith, Dominik Kahun, Jujhar Khaira, Cooper Marody, James Neal, Alan Quine, Patrick Russell, Devin Shore, Anton Slepyshev, Kyle Turris, Bogdan Yakimov. Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Oscar Klefbom, Slater Koekkoek, Dmitry Kulikov, William Lagesson, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell. Goalies: Mikko Koskinen, Mike Smith, Alex Stalock.
FLORIDA — Forwards: Noel Acciari, Patrick Bajkov, Juho Lammikko, Ryan Lomberg, Brad Morrison, Aleksi Saarela, Frank Vatrano, Lucas Wallmark, Alex Wennberg, Scott Wilson. Defensemen: Lucas Carlsson, Kevin Connauton, Tommy Cross, Radko Gudas, Noah Juulsen, Brady Keeper, Brandon Montour, Markus Nutivaara, Ethan Prow, Anton Stralman. Goalies: Philippe Desrosiers, Chris Driedger, Sam Montembeault.
LOS ANGELES — Forwards: Andreas Athanasiou, Michael Eyssimont, Martin Frk, Carl Grundstrom, Bokondji Imama, Brendan Lemieux, Blake Lizotte, Matt Luff, Drake Rymsha, Austin Wagner. Defensemen: Mark Alt, Daniel Brickley, Kale Clague, Olli Maatta, Kurtis MacDermid, Jacob Moverare, Austin Strand, Christian Wolanin. Goalies: Troy Grosenick, Jonathan Quick.
MINNESOTA — Forwards: William Bitten, Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Joseph Cramarossa, Gabriel Dumont, Marcus Johansson, Luke Johnson, Victor Rask, Kyle Rau, Mason Shaw, Dmitry Sokolov. Defensemen: Matt Bartkowski, Louie Belpedio, Ian Cole, Brad Hunt, Ian McCoshen, Brennan Menell, Dakota Mermis, Carson Soucy. Goalies: Andrew Hammond, Kaapo Kahkonen.
MONTREAL — Forwards: Brandon Baddock, Joseph Blandisi, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Laurent Dauphin, Jonathan Drouin, Michael Frolik, Charles Hudon, Corey Perry, Michael Pezzetta, Eric Staal, Tomas Tatar, Lukas Vejdemo, Jordan Weal. Defensemen: Cale Fleury, Erik Gustafsson, Brett Kulak, Jon Merrill, Gustav Olofsson, Xavier Ouellet, Shea Weber. Goalies: Charlie Lindgren, Michael McNiven, Carey Price.
NASHVILLE — Forwards: Michael Carcone, Nick Cousins, Matt Duchene, Mikael Granlund, Rocco Grimaldi, Erik Haula, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen, Sean Malone, Michael McCarron, Rem Pitlick, Anthony Richard, Brad Richardson, Colton Sissons, Yakov Trenin. Defensemen: Frederic Allard, Matt Benning, Mark Borowiecki, Erik Gudbranson, Ben Harpur, Josh Healey, Tyler Lewington. Goalies: Connor Ingram, Kasimir Kaskisuo, Pekka Rinne.
NEW JERSEY — Forwards: Nathan Bastian, Christoph Bertschy, Brandon Gignac, A.J. Greer, Andreas Johnsson, Ivan Khomutov, Nicholas Merkley, Brett Seney, Ben Street, Marian Studenic. Defensemen: Will Butcher, Connor Carrick, Josh Jacobs, Ryan Murray, David Quenneville, Colby Sissons, P.K. Subban, Matt Tennyson, Colton White. Goalies: Evan Cormier, Aaron Dell, Scott Wedgewood.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS — Forwards: Josh Bailey, Cole Bardreau, Kieffer Bellows, Casey Cizikas, Austin Czarnik, Michael Dal Colle, Jordan Eberle, Tanner Fritz, Joshua Ho-Sang, Ross Johnston, Otto Koivula, Leo Komarov, Kyle Palmieri, Richard Panik, Dmytro Timashov, Travis Zajac. Defensemen: Sebastian Aho, Braydon Coburn, Andy Greene, Thomas Hickey, Mitchell Vande Sompel, Parker Wotherspoon. Goalies: Ken Appleby, Cory Schneider.
NEW YORK RANGERS — Forwards: Colin Blackwell, Jonny Brodzinski, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Gabriel Fontaine, Julien Gauthier, Tim Gettinger, Barclay Goodrow, Anthony Greco, Ty Ronning. Defensemen: Anthony Bitetto, Brandon Crawley, Tony DeAngelo, Nick DeSimone, Mason Geertsen, Jack Johnson, Darren Raddysh, Brendan Smith. Goalies: Keith Kinkaid.
OTTAWA — Forwards: Vitaly Abramov, Michael Amadio, Artem Anisimov, J.C. Beaudin, Clark Bishop, Evgenii Dadonov, Jonathan Davidsson, Ryan Dzingel, Micheal Haley, Jack Kopacka, Zachary Magwood, Matthew Peca, Logan Shaw, Derek Stepan, Chris Tierney. Defensemen: Josh Brown, Cody Goloubef, Mikael Wikstrand. Goalies: Joey Daccord, Anton Forsberg, Marcus Hogberg, Matt Murray.
PHILADELPHIA — Forwards: Andy Andreoff, Connor Bunnaman, David Kase, Pascal Laberge, Samuel Morin, German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, Mikhail Vorobyev. Defensemen: Chris Bigras, Justin Braun, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Derrick Pouliot, Nate Prosser, Tyler Wotherspoon. Goalies: Brian Elliott, Alex Lyon, Felix Sandstrom.
PITTSBURGH — Forwards: Pontus Aberg, Anthony Angello, Zach Aston-Reese, Josh Currie, Frederick Gaudreau, Mark Jankowski, Sam Lafferty, Sam Miletic, Evan Rodrigues, Colton Sceviour, Brandon Tanev, Jason Zucker. Defensemen: Cody Ceci, Kevin Czuczman, Mark Friedman, Jesper Lindgren, Andrey Pedan, Marcus Pettersson, Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, Yannick Weber. Goalies: Casey DeSmith, Maxime Lagace.
SAN JOSE — Forwards: Ryan Donato, Kurtis Gabriel, Dylan Gambrell, Jayden Halbgewachs, Maxim Letunov, Patrick Marleau, Matt Nieto, Marcus Sorensen, Alexander True. Defensemen: Christian Jaros, Nicolas Meloche, Jacob Middleton, Greg Pateryn, Radim Simek. Goalies: Martin Jones.
ST. LOUIS — Forwards: Sam Anas, Sammy Blais, Tyler Bozak, Kyle Clifford, Jacob de la Rose, Mike Hoffman, Tanner Kaspick, Mackenzie MacEachern, Curtis McKenzie, Austin Poganski, Zach Sanford, Jaden Schwartz, Nolan Stevens, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nathan Walker. Defensemen: Robert Bortuzzo, Vince Dunn, Petteri Lindbohm, Niko Mikkola, Mitch Reinke, Steven Santini, Marco Scandella. Goalies: Jake Walman, Evan Fitzpatrick, Jon Gillies, Ville Husso.
TAMPA BAY — Forwards: Alex Barre-Boulet, Blake Coleman, Ross Colton, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Mathieu Joseph, Boris Katchouk, Alex Killorn, Pat Maroon, Boo Nieves, Ondrej Palat, Taylor Raddysh, Gemel Smith, Otto Somppi, Mitchell Stephens, Daniel Walcott, Luke Witkowski. Defensemen: Andreas Borgman, Fredrik Claesson, Sean Day, Cal Foote, Brian Lashoff, Dominik Masin, Jan Rutta, David Savard, Luke Schenn, Ben Thomas. Goalies: Christopher Gibson, Spencer Martin, Curtis McElhinney.
TORONTO — Forwards: Kenny Agostino, Joey Anderson, Adam Brooks, Pierre Engvall, Nick Foligno, Alex Galchenyuk, Zach Hyman, Alexander Kerfoot, Kalle Kossila, Denis Malgin, Jared McCann, Riley Nash, Stefan Noesen, Nic Petan, Scott Sabourin, Wayne Simmonds, Jason Spezza, Antti Suomela, Joe Thornton. Defensemen: Zach Bogosian, Travis Dermott, Ben Hutton, Martin Marincin, Calle Rosen. Goalies: Frederik Andersen, Michael Hutchinson, David Rittich.
VANCOUVER — Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Justin Bailey, Jay Beagle, Travis Boyd, Loui Eriksson, Jonah Gadjovich, Tyler Graovac, Jayce Hawryluk, Matthew Highmore, Lukas Jasek, Kole Lind, Zack MacEwen, Petrus Palmu, Antoine Roussel, Brandon Sutter, Jimmy Vesey, Jake Virtanen. Defensemen: Madison Bowey, Guillaume Brisebois, Jalen Chatfield, Alexander Edler, Travis Hamonic, Brogan Rafferty, Ashton Sautner, Josh Teves. Goalies: Braden Holtby.
WASHINGTON — Forwards: Daniel Carr, Nic Dowd, Shane Gersich, Carl Hagelin, Garnet Hathaway, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Alex Ovechkin, Garrett Pilon, Brian Pinho, Michael Raffl, Michael Sgarbossa, Conor Sheary. Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Brenden Dillon, Nick Jensen, Lucas Johansen, Michal Kempny, Paul LaDue, Cameron Schilling, Justin Schultz. Goalies: Craig Anderson, Pheonix Copley, Zach Fucale, Vitek Vanecek.
WINNIPEG — Forwards: Mason Appleton, Marko Dano, Jansen Harkins, Trevor Lewis, Skyler McKenzie, Mathieu Perreault, Paul Stastny, CJ Suess, Nate Thompson, Dominic Toninato. Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jordie Benn, Dylan DeMelo, Derek Forbort, Luke Green, Sami Niku, Nelson Nogier, Tucker Poolman. Goalies: Mikhail Berdin, Laurent Brossoit, Eric Comrie, Cole Kehler.