Chicago Blackhawks: They Released the Kraken…Now What?

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: The Team Store for the Seattle Kraken, the NHL's newest franchise, opens for business on August 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: The Team Store for the Seattle Kraken, the NHL's newest franchise, opens for business on August 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Dylan Strome #17, Chicago Blackhawks
Dylan Strome #17, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Johnathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brett Connolly, Dylan Strome, Ryan Carpenter, Vinnie Hinostroza, David Kampf, Adam Gaudette, Brandon Hagel, Henrik Borgstrom, Andrew Shaw, Zach Smith, Alex Nylander, Brandon Pirri, and John Quenneville are all eligible for exposure in the Expansion Draft. Toews and Kane have Full No-Movement Clauses in their contract, so they are required to be protected. As with Keith and Seabrook, I do not anticipate either of them waiving their no-movement clauses. Based on the assumptions we are using for this exercise, the Hawks are protecting 7 F. There are a lot of interesting conversations to be had with this group, so we’ll dive right in:

Johnathan Toews: First, let’s assume the Captain is coming back next season and will be back to the form we saw in 2019-2020. We can argue whether he is or isn’t a premier Centerman anymore, but he is a plus faceoff guy, a 2 way workhorse, and can be on the ice in any situation. You need that on your team. His full NMC notwithstanding, I would protect Toews regardless. He is another in the “Hawk for Life” pantheon.

Patrick Kane: Kane did it all for this team, while dealing with a mystery issue that slowed him down considerably down the stretch. But when he was on, he was still electric in the offensive zone. While he will never be a true 2-way forward, he put forth a lot more effort on the forecheck, in the neutral zone, and in his own zone than I have seen in several years. This one’s a no-brainer, even without the NMC. Kane is the last of the 4 “Hawk for Life” members on this current roster.

Alex DeBrincat: As clear-cut as this could be as far as protecting him, you could make a case that an exciting player like DeBrincat would be a huge boost to a team like Seattle, and lend the team some excitement right out of the gate. DeBrincat could be “the guy” in Seattle, rather than playing second fiddle to Kane in Chicago. I don’t know that he wants that, but it is something that could generate further discussion down the line between the Hawks and the Kraken. But his emergence as a 2-way STUD this season would lead me to protect him without blinking.

Brett Connolly: Brett is a solid veteran player, and does several things well enough to be a fixture on a 3rd or 4th line. Problem is, Hawks have a ton of those guys already, and most of them are younger and cheaper than Connolly. I think he gets exposed, but I don’t see him getting selected by the Kraken.

Dylan Strome: Here’s the first firecracker of the group, one that will generate strong opinions on both sides. I could see the Kraken taking him for a 2nd or 3rd line Center, but I could just as easily see them passing him over for another player. He clearly is out of favor with the coaching staff in Chicago, but he is still under contract for another year at $3M. I highly doubt the Hawks see him as a part of their future right now.

Ryan Carpenter: I see him much the same as Connolly. Solid vet, can play in a number of situations, but likely gets squeezed by a younger player, especially after how well Hardman and Entwistle showed down the stretch.

Vinnie Hinostroza: Vinnie is a guy I wouldn’t mind seeing on the roster again, but I don’t think it’s in the cards. Good skater, solid playmaker, works hard in all areas of the ice. He would be a great bottom 6 addition for the Kraken, but I don’t think they will waste their Expansion Draft selection on him. I think he could end up there anyway after his contract expires.