After making a name for himself as an imposing force on the Minnesota Wild blue line, defenseman Carson Soucy is on his way out.
The Seattle Kraken selected Soucy in the NHL expansion draft on Wednesday night, July 21, which means the 26-year-old defenseman will continue his career as a part of the league’s newest franchise.
“It obviously stings,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin said. “We knew we were going to lose a good player, and it was Carson. We wish him nothing but the best. He gave us some good years. He’s going to do fantastic.”
As disappointed as Guerin was to lose Soucy, the fact that backup goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen is still on the roster clearly lessened the blow. There was concern the Kraken might select the 24-year-old Kahkonen after he was left exposed to the draft. Instead, he will be back in the mix next season, slotting in behind starter Cam Talbot to give the Wild a solid goaltending tandem.
“We came out of it kind of lucky,” Guerin said of the draft. “Our goaltenders were very good last year, and we’re looking for more of that in the coming years.”
As for the the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Soucy, he already has proven to be a solid two-way NHL player, and analytics suggest he could flourish for the Kraken in an bigger role. His team-friendly $2.75 million cap hit over the next two seasons also likely played a role in his selection.
“He’s a player that we saw a lot of value in,” Guerin said. “His progression over the last couple years was fantastic. When I first got here, we kind of had him pegged for Iowa. He took a job. He stole a job. He kept getting better and better. It’s unfortunate for us. But those are the rules.”
It’s worth noting that Guerin did not try to make a side deal with the Kraken general manager Ron Francis to convince him to take a specific player. Perhaps he learned from former Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher gifting the Vegas Golden Knights top prospect Alex Tuch prior to the last expansion draft.
“We would lose more assets than we already have. That was kind of the way we approached it all along,” Guerin said. “We knew we were going to lose a good player and it was going to be somebody that we liked and valued. We did.”
The selection of Soucy, a former Minnesota Duluth star from 2013-17, means the Wild will have some holes to fill on the blue line heading into NHL free agency next week. They shockingly bought out veteran star Ryan Suter last week, which opened up a spot on the blue line, and now must fill another spot following the loss of Soucy.
As it currently stands, the blue line for the Wild consists of captain Jared Spurgeon, the smooth-skating Jonas Brodin and dynamic Matt Dumba. There’s a good chance the Wild will try to re-sign veteran Ian Cole, who filled a valuable role last season, and top prospect Calen Addison is waiting in the wings.
That said, the Wild will need to add at least a couple of other players to the mix on the blue line ahead of training camp.
“We have some work some do,” Guerin said. “We have to fill some spots.”
It will be interesting what Guerin decides to prioritize when NHL free agency opens up next week. Asked about what he will be shopping for, Guerin talked about filling out the roster as a whole before conceding that, “Our biggest need is defense.”
“We are going to continue to try to create depth,” he added. “We are going to have to be active in free agency. We could be active in the trade market. There are a lot of things we could do. We understand where we are right now. And we have some flexibility.”