In the 2021 expansion draft, the Seattle Kraken selected defenseman Gavin Bayreuther from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
A native of Concord, New Hampshire, the 27-year-old defenseman is 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. He was passed three times in the NHL Draft and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Stars.
Before turning pro, Bayreuther spent four seasons with the St. Lawrence University men’s ice hockey team in New York. He signed with the Stars in 2017 after his senior season and was assigned to the Dallas-affiliated Texas Stars in the American Hockey League (AHL). He played two full seasons in the AHL before being called up in the middle of the 2018-19 season to replace injured Marc Methot. In 19 NHL games that season, he scored two goals and five points.
Bayreuther spent the entire 2019-20 season with the Texas Stars before leaving the organization and signing as a free agent for a one year two-part contract with the blue jackets. In 14 AHL games, he had three goals and 12 points, as well as one goal in nine NHL games. He is currently a unrestricted free agent on hold.
Bayreuther is a marginal NHL defenseman who can add depth to any team. While he’s likely never to be one of the top four defensemen in the NHL, he’s a useful sixth defenseman and can fit into the roster as needed. He is also a proven marker of AHL.
Related: THW’s Kraken Expansion Project Tracker
If Bayreuther is indeed signed to a new contract by the Kraken, he will likely start in the AHL. It can provide points at this level as well as a callback option in the event of an injury.
Although the Kraken chose Bayreuther, the Blue Jackets had several other options, the most tempting of which was forward Max Domi. Domi had a tough first season at Columbus, but he’s well established among the top six scorers, just two years out of a 70-point season with the Montreal Canadiens. His struggles over the past season along with some reported off-ice issues may have prevented Seattle management from selecting him.
Forward Kevin Stenlund was also an option. The 24-year-old doesn’t have a lot of NHL experience, but he can provide solid in-depth scoring and plans to be a solid option in the bottom six.
Finally, the Kraken could have chosen 33-year-old striker Nathan Gerbe. The little center is well known as one of the smallest players to ever play in the NHL, measuring just 5-foot-5. He started his career with the Buffalo Sabers and Carolina Hurricanes before spending two seasons in Switzerland’s top professional league. He signed with the Blue Jackets in 2018 and has been there as a depth option ever since. He is also the captain of Columbus’ AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters.
Bayreuther is one of the lower picks in the 2021 Extension Draft. He has been a deep defender his entire professional career and will likely remain so in Seattle if they choose to sign him. It remains to be seen whether the Kraken will actually hold it back or let it run when free agency opens on July 28.
Jake is a trusted source for the Seattle Kraken here at The Hockey Writers. A native of New York City, he is a huge fan of all things hockey and is always involved in the sport, whether it’s writing, watching or playing. A strong supporter of sports analysis, Jake will often include them in his publications to support his ideas. More of his work can be found on his Substack page, and he is a contributor with @hky_tapetalk on Instagram. For any questions or inquiries, Jake can be reached on his Twitter, @jakezrihen.