In a new mock NHL expansion draft at The Athletic, the Seattle Kraken select one of several young defensemen that the Boston Bruins will inevitably have to leave unprotected.
Writers Dom Luszczyszyn, Eric Duhatschek and Ryan S. Clark each made a selection for the Kraken from all 31 other teams in their seventh mock NHL Expansion Draft of the season. From the Bruins, they all land on a young, left-shot defenseman. Clark and Duhatschek select Jeremy Lauzon, while Luszczyszyn goes with Jakub Zboril.
The Bruins originally picked Lauzon and Zboril in the 2015 NHL Draft, which the team has essentially admitted was mostly a disaster. Despite going in the second round, Lauzon has risen through the ranks in the B’s organization faster than first-rounder Zboril.
Lauzon played in 41 of 56 games in the 2020-21 season, averaging 18:43 of ice time. He mostly served as a third-pairing defender and penalty-killer, while occasionally playing with Charlie McAvoy on the top pair. Lauzon had an up-and-down playoff run, marred by a costly turnover that led to an overtime goal for the New York Islanders in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series.
Zboril, meanwhile, showed intermittent flashes of the offensive ability that made him the 13th pick in the 2015 draft, but ended up with no goals and nine assists in 42 games. Trade deadline acquisition Mike Reilly ultimately supplanted both Lauzon and Zboril on the second defensive pairing with Brandon Carlo during the playoffs.
The Bruins may be forced to leave Lauzon unprotected in the expansion draft, should they go the route of protecting seven forwards and three defensemen. McAvoy is a lock for protection, while Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk appear to be the most likely 2-3 choices.
Despite Boston’s sticky situation on defense in the expansion draft, there remains some risk in leaving both Lauzon and Zboril open to the Kraken. Both defensemen are still just 24 years old and, at least, looked like they will belong somewhere on an NHL roster in the coming years. Lauzon still has untapped potential to develop into a sturdy, minutes-eating left-shot defenseman, which Bruins President Cam Neely said the team will prioritize adding in the offseason. Zboril still has his first-round pedigree, and could simply end up taking a little longer than other defensemen to put it all together.
But it feels inevitable that one of them will end up in Seattle. Unless the Kraken opt for a forward, like if Jake DeBrusk ends up unprotected, or if they prefer Connor Clifton for their defense, Lauzon and Zboril will be among the most common names that people project to leave via the Expansion Draft.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.