Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price wasn’t selected by the Kraken when it submitted its final list of expansion draft picks to the NHL on Wednesday morning, according to a report by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.
Price, 33, had surprisingly agreed to waive his no-movement clause ahead of the draft, which enabled the Canadiens to protect backup Jake Allen. The former Tri-City Americans netminder, who just led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final, carried a $10.5 million salary-cap hit in each of the next five seasons and would have retained his no-movement clause if selected.
He is also expected to see a knee specialist in New York on Thursday and reportedly is dealing with a hip issue. The Kraken had been looking into Price for months, given rumors the Canadiens might try to expose him.
But that was before Price rebounded from a subpar, injury-plagued regular season and led the upstart Canadiens to playoff upsets over Toronto, Winnipeg and Vegas before falling to Tampa Bay in a five-game final round.
The Kraken had already decided well before Wednesday to avoid taking talented but enigmatic Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin in the draft, and reports now suggest that young defenseman Cale Fleury, 22, will be the Montreal player chosen. That could enable a reunion with his older brother, Anaheim defenseman Haydn Fleury, 25 — a former first-round draft pick of Kraken general manager Ron Francis — if the Kraken heads that way with its Ducks pick.
The Price decision removes much of the anticipation ahead of Wednesday’s planned expansion draft live broadcast from Gas Works Park on ESPN2. Various reports filtering in indicate Francis will not select St. Louis Blues star left wing Vladimir Tarasenko — opting for young defenseman Vince Dunn instead — and that he also did not reach a deal with Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog during the team’s exclusive 72-hour predraft window.
Nothing precludes the Kraken from pursuing Landeskog and other free agents once the official free-agency period opens July 28. By that time, free agents will have had a chance to better explore the open market while the Kraken will have drafted its players from the league’s 30 teams and have a better understanding of whether they can afford somebody’s asking price.