Seattle Kraken select forward Morgan Geekie from Hurricanes in expansion draft

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Morgan Geekie is headed to Seattle.

The Carolina Hurricanes forward was selected Wednesday by the Seattle Kraken, the NHL’s newest team, in the expansion draft.

The Kraken, who begin play in the 2021-22 season, stocked their new roster in Wednesday’s draft, taking one player from each NHL team except the Vegas Golden Knights, who entered the league in 2017 as an expansion team. It was a gala affair in Seattle, with several celebrities helping announce the draft picks.

“You are ready for NHL hockey,” commissioner Gary Bettman told a large, loud crowd gathered at Gas Works Park. “These players will forever be known as the original Seattle Kraken, your Seattle Kraken.”

The Kraken hope to follow the lead of the Golden Knights, who took advantage of the expansion draft to piece together a team competitive from the start. The Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2018. It was noted that season tickets for the inaugural season were sold out in 12 minutes, a testament to the support the new team will have.

A lot of the focus the past few days has been on Canes forward Nino Niederreiter and defenseman Jake Bean, who were left unprotected for the expansion draft by Carolina, giving the Kraken the option of taking a 20-goal scorer in Niederreiter or a 23-year-old D-man in Bean, a former first-round pick by the Canes.

There also was speculation before Wednesday that the Kraken might take defenseman Dougie Hamilton, soon to be an unrestricted free agent, as their Canes pick. The Kraken could still pursue Hamilton as a free-agent signing if he’s not re-signed by the Canes before July 28, when free agency begins.

The Kraken turned in their list of draft selections to the league Wednesday morning. The media leaks soon began, and by 8 p.m. most of the Kraken’s picks — including Geekie from the Canes — had been revealed in media reports and discussed on social media.

Geekie, 23, recently signed a one-year, two-way contract with Carolina that will pay him $750,000 at the NHL level in 2021-22. A native of Strathclair, Manitoba, he was a third-round draft pick — the 67th overall selection — by Carolina in 2017.

Geekie’s coming off an indifferent 2020-21 season with the Canes in which he played 36 games, mostly on the fourth line, and finished with three goals and nine assists.

Geekie was used in the Canes’ lineup in three of the Stanley Cup playoff games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, averaging about seven minutes of ice time.

Geekie’s most memorable moments with the Canes came when he made his NHL debut in the 2019-20 season. He had two goals and an assist in a Match 8, 2020 game against Pittsburgh, then scored again two nights later in a road game against Detroit.

The pandemic soon put an end to the 2019-20 regular season. When play resumed in August 2020, Geekie was a nonfactor in the playoffs in the Toronto bubble. He had one assist in eight games.

Geekie will be remembered for one of the most memorable quotes of the 2020-21 season that quickly went viral. On a media zoom call on April 29, he was asked how quickly he’s able to handle losses and begin concentrating on the next game.

“If we stick to our game, at the end of the day you can’t out-pizza the Hut, you know what I mean?” he said.

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