Welcome to what will likely be one of the wildest weeks in the NHL this summer.
Over the weekend, we found out which players were protected and unprotected in the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft on Wednesday night. Following the Expansion Draft, the NHL Entry Draft will take place this Friday and Saturday. But before all that, the week started with some seismic news coming from Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop.
• On Monday morning, Prokop announced publicly that he is gay.
— luke prokop (@lukeprokop_6) July 19, 2021
• Prokop, a 2020 third-round draft pick by the Predators, signed his entry-level contract with the club in December of 2020. There has never been an openly gay player in the NHL, but Prokop could become the first. His story is beautifully told by The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.
Luke Prokop had wondered how this call with the Predators would go ever since they drafted him. He was ecstatic after having it. It was the next step in a process he began last year.
Telling people he’s gay.
Now he’s telling everyone.
Here’s his story:https://t.co/aLH45w9uso
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 19, 2021
• Statements of support have come flooding in from all corners of the NHL and it’s fan community for Prokop. This from the league’s commissioner Gary Bettman, sharing that he hopes that Prokop’s story gives others the courage to tell their own stories and live openly within the NHL.
— NHL (@NHL) July 19, 2021
• It’s an incredible moment for the league and its connection with the LGBTQ+ community. Numerous former NHL players have come out after their careers came to an end and shared their experiences following their active careers, but Prokop sharing his before his NHL career begins takes courage. The league and the culture of the sport of hockey have a long way to go and a lot of work to be done to make the game truly welcoming to everyone, but this is an enormous step forward.
• Over the weekend, we found out the Chicago Blackhawks notably left Nikita Zadorov, Calvin de Haan, Adam Gaudette, and Malcolm Subban (among others) unprotected to the Seattle Kraken in the Expansion Draft. There’s going to be plenty of speculation over the next few days as to who the Kraken will take, but it could come down to which of the Chicago defenders Seattle wants to take a run on.
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) July 18, 2021
• Zadorov is intriguing to Seattle because he is a legitimate NHL starter and brings a physical presence on the ice. With de Haan, he is already on the books for next season at $4.55M, the Kraken could look to take Zadorov and get a deal done with him for less than that AAV cap hit.
• If you’re asking me, I’d rather the Kraken take Zadorov than de Haan. But don’t count out the chance that Seattle takes Gaudette or Subban either.
Interesting to see Chicago protecting Caleb Jones over names like Nikita Zadorov and even Calvin de Haan. He had been projected to go unprotected in Edmonton; clearly they think he has some untapped potential.
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) July 18, 2021
• If it is Zadorov, that’s another spot in the defensive rotation open for competition in Chicago with a host of young defenseman looking for their shots to be legitimate, full-time NHLers next season.
• *rubs hands together menacingly*
Agents with pending UFA’s are waiting for Seattle to use their leverage window and start tabling offers. Seattle has exclusivity until 10am et Wednesday to sign UFA’s and available RFA’s. If in the market for any of the top UFA’s, the offers will need to start rolling in soon.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 19, 2021
• Yes…let it begin!
• It’s a wild week and it will come to another head when the Entry Draft rolls around this weekend. The Blackhawks have eight picks in this year’s draft, with three coming within the first 63 picks. Corey Pronman of The Athletic went through a full seven-round mock draft and he has the Blackhawks taking Swedish goaltender Jesper Wallstedt with their first selection (12th overall). Check out the full mock here…
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) July 16, 2021
• Four forwards, two goalies, two defensemen…not sure I agree.
• Speaking of prospects, Michael Krutil scored an empty-net goal with the Czech Republic’s U20 team today. He played on the top defensive pair in the game against Finland today.
— Czech Prospects (@CZprospects) July 19, 2021
• I’ll leave you today with an amazing moment from the Humboldt Broncos. For the first time since the terrible tragedy that devastated the team, all 13 surviving members were together over the weekend.
All 13 Bronco Brothers plus 2, together for the first time since the tragedy. Absolutely love this. pic.twitter.com/g4XLsofepU
• You love to see it.
• That will do it for today. Enjoy your Monday!