The Seattle Kraken, which starts play this fall as the National Hockey League’s 32nd franchise, began building its roster on Wednesday night with the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. The draft proceedings were the 14th in league history and only the fourth that stocked the roster of just one team.
Some of the higher-profile players available included Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price (Quesnel Millionaires), Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen (Penticton Vees), Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot (Coquitlam Express), and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Troy Stecher (Penticton Vees).
In total, there were 36 players with BC Hockey League experience up for grabs for the Kraken and when the dust settled, a pair of BCHL alumni were among the 30 players selected.
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Dennis Cholowski (16 goals, 51 assists in 106 games with Chilliwack from 2014-16) was the first former BCHL player announced on the NHL Expansion Draft broadcast going to the Kraken.
The 23-year-old from Langley, BC has bounced between Detroit and the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League since being selected in the first round, 20th overall, by the Red Wings in the 2016 NHL Draft.
He’s put up 10 goals and 27 points in 104 games with the Red Wings and six goals and 35 points in 69 games with the Griffins.
Cholowski played NCAA hockey at St. Cloud State in 2016-17 before making his pro debut at the end of that season with Grand Rapids.
He jumped to the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League for 2017-18, getting 39 points in 37 games in BC’s northern capital before being traded to the Portland Winterhawks at the 2018 trade deadline. He skated in 32 games with the Winterhawks and notched 27 points.
Cholowski is a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract that paid him $832,500 per season at the NHL level.
The second former BCHL player announced as a selection of the Kraken in the expansion draft was Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brandon Tanev (11 goals, 22 assists in 58 games with Surrey in 2011-12).
Tanev, 29, only got into 32 of Pittsburgh’s 56 games in 2020-21 due to injury but still put up seven goals and 16 points.
The Toronto, ON product signed a six-year contract with the Penguins as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019, after posting 29 points in 80 games with Winnipeg during the 2018-19 season. The deal runs through the 2024-25 season with a $3.5 million cap hit.
He signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2016 after a four-year NCAA career at Providence College. He committed to the Friars while with the Eagles during the 2011-12 season.
Tanev made his pro debut at the end of the 2015-16 season, appearing in three games for Winnipeg. The two-way winger split 2016-17 between the Jets and the Manitoba Moose, their AHL affiliate. He had four points in 51 NHL games with Winnipeg and nine points in 23 AHL games with the Moose.
The fact that Tanev has carved out a nearly 300-game NHL career is remarkable given that he didn’t play competitive hockey between 2008 and 2010 before joining the Markham Waxers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for 2010-11. He was traded to Surrey in August 2011.