Per Chris Johnston, the Seattle Kraken have reportedly taken Calle Järnkrok as their selection from the Nashville Predators in the 2021 expansion draft.
Hearing the #SeaKraken preserved more valuable cap space by passing on Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene in Nashville.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 21, 2021
Belief is they will select Calle Järnkrok instead.
The Järnkrok pick isn’t much of a surprise. He was the primary name mentioned in mock drafts and rumors since the protection lists became public over the past weekend. The Kraken passed on more high-profile names like Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene in favor of Järnkrok, who has one year left on a contract worth a $2M cap hit.
While the Predators leaving Järnkrok unprotected wasn’t a shock per se, it was surprising to see the 29-year-old exposed in favor of Tanner Jeannot and Alexandre Carrier, two players who played well in 2021, but with a very small sample size of what they can do in the NHL. Järnkrok has been one of the Preds’ most versatile players over the past several seasons, even tying Mikael Granlund for the team lead in goals last year. But the emphasis from David Poile this offseason has been on youth and refreshing the core, which is ultimately why Järnkrok wasn’t the priority.
After Järnkrok’s selection, Nashville’s cap hit for the upcoming season stands at $52.9 million and leaves the Predators with 8 forwards under contract for next season.
Järnkrok isn’t a blue-chip player by any means, but he is a great piece for how the Kraken want to build their team. He’s an “accordion player,” someone who can be moved up or down the lineup card and still fit in with the identity of whichever line he’s on. He’s also a special teams ace who’s played significant minutes on both the power play and penalty kill. Plus, Järnkrok’s contract situation gives Seattle plenty of cap flexibility, both this year and down the road.
Best of luck to Calle in the Pacific Northwest!