Seattle Kraken prepare for expansion draft as NHL clubs leave players unprotected

July 18 (UPI) — The NHL revealed its teams’ protected lists Sunday ahead of the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft, with Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price and St. Louis Blues star winger Vladimir Tarasenko among the star players who were left exposed.

The Kraken will take one player from 30 NHL teams, as the Vegas Golden Knights — the NHL’s newest team before Seattle entered the league — are exempt from the expansion draft. The selections will be announced starting Wednesday at 8 p.m. EDT.

Each team could choose to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie, or they could opt to protect eight skaters and a goalie if they felt obligated to protect a fourth defenseman — a move the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs decided to do.

NHL clubs didn’t need to protect upcoming unrestricted free agents, meaning stars such as Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton and Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall are vulnerable in the draft.

Seattle can draft those star players, but that decision could backfire if they decide to play elsewhere next season after being selected. Unrestricted free agents can sign with whichever team they choose starting July 28.

The full list of protected and unprotected players for the expansion draft can be found here. Similar to the 2017 expansion draft for Vegas, there could be agreements in play to ensure the Kraken don’t take certain exposed players.

The Kraken also can begin interviewing free agents who were left unprotected in the expansion draft. If Seattle agrees to a deal with a free agent before the draft, that free agent will count as the club’s selected player.

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