New Jersey Devils: 5 Players In Jeopardy In Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

Michael McLeod #20 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Michael McLeod #20 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Janne Kuokkanen #59 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Janne Kuokkanen

This is where fans have to really look at this team and make a decision. It seemed obvious the Devils should protect Bastian and McLeod, right? That is, until it becomes clear they have to choose between Kuokkanen, Bastian, and McLeod. They can only protect two of the three (but it might be three of four if we add Sharangovich).

Kuokkanen has spent time on what we call the “Youths Line” with Sharangovich and Jack Hughes. The 22 year old has 21 points in 42 games this season, his first full season in the NHL. After playing 16 games in Europe before the season, it was clear that he was ready to take the next step as an NHL player. There are times when he’s a driving force.

The Devils got Kuokkanen as the main piece in the Sami Vatanen trade. It is clearly a huge win for the Devils, as he’s a very good middle-six player who can jump onto the top line in a pinch.

There’s no way the Devils leave Kuokkanen unprotected, right? If they do, it’s a no brainer that the Kraken would take him immediately. He’s exactly the type of player Vegas targeted back in 2017 to build a perennial contender. The Devils cannot afford to lose guaranteed NHL players, and Kuokkanen feels like that at a minimum.