Brandon Tanev is headed to Seattle.
The Kraken officially chose the winger as their pick from the Penguins in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on Wednesday.
Tanev had completed his second season with Pittsburgh after signing a six-year contract with an average annual value of $3.5 million on July 1, 2019. When Brandon first told his father Mike about the deal, the elder Tanev made quite an astute prediction.
"I know Pittsburgh for being a sports town, as a blue-collar town," said Mike, a car broker based out of the Toronto area. "So when he told me he was going to sign there, I said, they're going to love you. They don't know you, they hate you and they hate the contract right now, but once they see you play a couple of times and they get what you do, they're going to like you. Because that's Pittsburgh. That's what they like."
And sure enough, Tanev quickly won everybody over with his energy, enthusiasm and passion. The defensively responsible forward became a cult hero, fan favorite and popular teammate during his time in Pittsburgh, where he collected 18 goals and 41 points in 100 regular-season games for the Penguins.
"I had a great time in Pittsburgh," Tanev told reporters after the announcement. "The city, the fans, everybody in Pittsburgh treated me extremely well. My time there was awesome. It was a great time to be a part of the Penguins organization. I can't thank the organization enough, everybody involved, the city, the fans were putting me in a position to succeed. I'm going to truly remember Pittsburgh."
Tanev, who was in Seattle for the unveiling of the roster, has already began endearing himself to his new fanbase. As he was being interviewed onstage during the roster unveiling, his infamous headshot from last season was shown onscreen, and Tanev broke off mid-answer.
"I see you guys are all laughing at my headshot from last year," he said with a laugh. "I appreciate that. I saw a ghost, and I'm sticking with that one all the way."
The Kraken had to pick one player from each current team - excluding the Vegas Golden Knights, who entered the league in an expansion draft of their own back in 2017 - for a total of 30. Seattle's full roster can be found here.
Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato, an Olympic gold medalist for Team USA, who is now a scout with Seattle, announced the selection of Tanev, who will be joining another former Penguin in Seattle. That is Jared McCann, who was chosen as the Maple Leafs' pick just four days after being traded to Toronto in exchange for Filip Hallander and a 2023 seventh-round draft pick.
McCann had been with Pittsburgh since being acquired from Florida in a crazy game-day trade on Feb. 1, 2019. He skated in 141 regular-season games for the Penguins and collecting 39 goals, 45 assists and 84 points.
Tanev was among the notable names on the Penguins' list of available players, along with Zach Aston-Reese, Jason Zucker and Marcus Pettersson. The full list is as follows:
The Penguins elected to protect seven forwards, three defenseman and one goaltender:
In addition, first- and second-year professionals, and all unsigned draft choices, were exempt from selection and not counted toward protection limits.
Defenseman John Marino, who just finished his second full NHL season, is in this group. So are the rookies on entry-level contracts who spent time in Pittsburgh last year - Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Drew O'Connor and Radim Zohorna - and top prospects like Sam Poulin and Nathan Legare.