No, Gabe Landeskog will not be protected when the Seattle Kraken select their inaugural team on Wednesday. Neither will Joonas Donskoi or J.T. Compher. The Colorado Avalanche protected list was released on Sunday morning, and those were among the names not on the list of players exempt from being selected.
Here is the official protected list: MacKinnon, Rantanen, Burakovsky, Kadri, Nichushkin, Jost, O’Connor, Makar, Toews, Girard, Grubauer.
So, yes, technically the Kraken can now try to negotiate a contract exclusively with Landeskog until Wednesday, and if they come to an agreement, he would be their “Avs selection” in the draft. But here’s what we learned this morning:
The Kraken have a LOT of big-name players they can take in the draft, but does that mean they’d get them? In many cases, most certainly not – and Landeskog could be among them. For example, the Washington Capitals left superstar legend Alexander Ovechkin off its protected list today. So, the headline might be ALEXANDER OVECHKIN MIGHT BE A MEMBER OF THE SEATTLE KRAKEN!
No. Because he’s an unrestricted free agent and because everybody knows he’s eventually going to re-sign with the Capitals, they could afford to leave him unprotected, because they know he’s not going to sign with Seattle even if the Kraken actually picked him. This could well be why the Avs did the same thing with Landeskog.
Seattle will draft 30 players (Vegas is exempt from losing a player) and must have 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders – the other four players can be of any position of the Kraken’s choosing – and it must draft at least 20 players who are under contract for the 2021-22 season. Additionally, the combined salaries of those 30 players must be at least 60 percent of the league’s annual salary cap, which remains flat at $81.5 million for ’21-22. The 60 percent floor of that figure is $48.9 million.
So, let’s analyze the list some and discuss: First off, I think we’re all a bit shocked that the Avs protected Logan O’Connor over guys such as Joonas Donskoi and J.T. Compher. But maybe we shouldn’t be shocked. Because, as I alluded to in that piece last month about the possibility of the Avs exposing Landeskog, it’s clear that the Avs really wouldn’t mind dropping some salary off the cap to better be able to sign guys such as Landy.
If the Avs lose Donskoi, yeah, there goes a good player. But also, there goes his $3.9 million cap hit for the next two years. More money to spend now on Landy, Makar, Grubauer and maybe even Brandon Saad. If Compher goes, his $3.5 million goes bye bye. Hey, if the Kraken take Erik Johnson, who would be available, there goes a $6 million cap hit.
I think the fact the Avs protected Grubauer is obviously a good sign he’ll return to the Avs. Why waste protecting him otherwise, as a UFA?
I would say it’s going to come down to either Donskoi or Compher as the player the Kraken take. It’s a nice feather in the cap to guys such as Nazem Kadri, Tyson Jost and Valeri Nichushkin that they are all protected. Before last year, I would have bet there was no way Jost would be protected, but he had a good enough year to warrant inclusion. The Logan O’Connor protection not only is a great feather in his cap too, but it’s also an example of why the Avs want to shed some salary, by leaving some of the higher-priced guys exposed. O’Connor’s cap hit is only $725,000.
My biggest takeaway from all this: Have a “In Joe We Trust” attitude on this. He could be playing three-dimensional chess on the Landy thing. He’s trying to clear more cap room for his big hitters. That explains the list today, and it also explains the Ryan Graves trade the other day.
While I’m not at all overconfident Landeskog re-signs here, I still think he will. We’ll know for sure within the next 12 days.
Have a happy Sunday.