The official reveal won’t come until 8 p.m., but there won’t be much left to unveil when ESPN hosts the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft picks Wednesday night.
Word of which players have been selected by the league’s 32nd team leaked all afternoon, and despite speculation that the Kraken would likely select defenseman Jake Bean from the Carolina Hurricanes, it was instead forward Morgan Geekie who will head to the Pacific Northwest for the team’s inaugural season, according to a team source. The news was first reported by DailyFaceoff.com’s Frank Seravalli.
Geekie, taken in the third round of the 2017 draft when Seattle GM Ron Francis was running the Hurricanes, has six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 38 regular season games and totaled one assist in 11 career playoff games. He played his junior hockey in Washington state for the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, about 3 1/2 hours from inland from coastal Seattle.
The Kraken’s choice of Geekie — who was selected without any influence from the Hurricanes in the way of compensation — leaves Carolina with more certainty on defense but less at forward.
The Hurricanes currently have five defenseman with significant NHL experience — Bean (a first-round pick by Francis in 2016), Jake Gardiner, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei and Jaccob Slavin — for next season, though Bean is a restricted free agent and Gardiner’s health is in question.
While Carolina has plenty of top-six forwards under contract for next season, the loss of Geekie further diminishes the team’s depth in its bottom six. Jordan Martinook, Brock McGinn and Cedric Paquette are all unrestricted free agents, and Warren Foegele — a restricted free agent — has been in trade rumors this offseason.
The Hurricanes could attempt to re-sign any of those three UFAs, and they also have a few prospects who could compete for jobs — David Cotton, Jack Drury and two past first-round picks, Ryan Suzuki and Seth Jarvis are just a handful of players who could crack the NHL roster next year.