The Seattle Kraken are on the clock, ready to shake up the NHL.
On Wednesday night, the Kraken will have the opportunity to select 30 players to build the foundation of their team in the expansion draft, as they attempt to immediately compete and maybe even repeat recent history.
In a historic run, the Vegas Golden Knights became the best first-year expansion team in professional sports history. They were three wins away from winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, thanks to shrewd moves from their general manager George McPhee, a perfect coach Gerard Gallant — now of the New York Rangers — to lead a band of misfits that joined together and bought into a common goal.
For the Kraken, it all starts at the expansion draft. This seismic event will be a wild ride.
How will it all unfold? Here’s how to watch The Seattle Kraken expansion draft and some storylines to look out for:
When is The Expansion Draft?
The Expansion Draft is on Wednesday, July 21 at 8 p.m.
Where is The Expansion Draft taking place?
The Expansion Draft will take place Gas Works Park in Seattle.
How can I watch the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft?
Hockey fans, new and old, can tune into ESPN2 to catch all the action.
What are the rules for The Expansion Draft?
Over the weekend, every NHL — except Vegas, which is exempt from the draft — had to submit a list of players to protect from the expansion draft, while leaving a pool of player who meet contractual and games-played requirements.
From that pool, Seattle will have to choose at minimum 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies. Twenty of those players have to be under contract for the 2021-22 regular season and comprise at least 60 percent of the $81.5 million salary cap.
The Kraken cannot buy out any of their drafted players until next summer.
Seattle must officially submit its list of players at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, but they won’t be revealed until 8 p.m.
What are the storylines for the Expansion Draft?
Teams obviously do not want to lose their top players. How can they avoid this outcome? By giving Kraken general manager Ron Francis assets in exchange for him selecting someone else. However, the Kraken seem to want a lot, maybe even too much, meaning they will have to lower their price or teams will have to pay up. The Golden Knights made many of these deals and almost all of them worked – it was a big reason they were so successful from the jump.
The Flat Cap
Two words no general manager wants to hear: flat cap. The salary cap is remaining the same – $81.5 million for the second straight season – meaning teams will have difficulty getting compliant. The Kraken can be of service if teams match their demands – the question remains, is Francis willing to help?
Stars, Stars and More Stars
Carey Price of the Canadiens is one of the best goalies in hockey. Gabriel Landeskog is a star that is about to hit free agency after 10 years with the Avalanche organization. Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen are the Predators’ top centers. Max Domi – son of Tie Domi – has a lot of talent, but struggled last year for the Blue Jackets under John Tortorella. Vladimir Tarasenko and Vince Dunn are two years off of leading the Blues to a Stanley Cup. And Mark Giordano is two years off of winning a Norris Trophy with the Flames. What do all these stars have in common? They have been left unprotected in the Expansion Draft and can be selected. The Kraken have the ability to build a team ready to compete immediately.
Prospects, Prospects and More Prospects
Exposed young defensemen Jake Bean, Haydn Fleury, Cal Foote are all ready to make an impact all the NHL level. They could help Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol build a solid, young defensive core that could be around for years to come.
Forwards Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, Ross Colton and Pat Maroon are available to be chosen. That would be an effective top-six on its own, but the Kraken will have to select just one player. Their choice from the Lightning – or a potential trade – will be one of the most interesting storylines of the night.
James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek are unprotected. While they both have large contracts, they are very effective players. Instead of protecting their high-priced forwards, the Flyers went for affordable depth, choosing Oskar Lindblom, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Scott Laughton.
The Islanders decided to leave top-six forwards Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle unprotected in favor of fourth-liners Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. Lou Lamoriello is the two-time GM of the Year, so he most likely has a plan – the Islanders have been linked to Landeskog – but if not, the Islanders could be without an integral part of their offense next season.
Aside from Price, the goalie market is stacked. While it seems like the Kraken has chosen Chris Driedger to at least compete to be their No. 1, Stanley Cup winners Jonathan Quick (Kings), Matt Murray (Senators) and Braden Holtby (Canucks) are available, as are Ben Bishop (Stars), Vitek Vanecek (Capitals), Martin Jones (Sharks) and Kaapo Kahkonen (Wild). Free agent goalies Frederik Andersen (Maple Leafs), Petr Mrazek (Hurricanes), Mike Smith (Oilers), Tuukka Rask (Bruins), Jaroslav Halak (Bruins) and Cory Schneider (Islanders) are free agents and can be claimed and signed, too.
P.K. Subban and Shea Weber
Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and his $9 million 2021-22 cap hit are available for the Kraken. While he would provide them an eccentric leader, it is unlikely they bite. Shea Weber is also unprotected, but his injury issues make it likely he will remain with the Canadiens. The duo was traded for each other in a blockbuster between the Canadiens and Predators on June 29, 2016.
The Capitals’ Defensemen
The Capitals have two 30-year-old defensemen that the Kraken could be interested in. Brenden Dillon ($3.9 million for three more seasons) and Nick Jensen ($2.5 million for two more seasons) would both be useful pieces for Francis and Hakstol.
Nino Niederreiter is only 28 and has one year remaining on his contract at $5.25 million. If the Kraken can pass exposed defenseman Jake Bean, Niederreiter would be a great option to plug into Hakstol’s middle-six, or he can be traded at the deadline.
Jeff Skinner was left unprotected. It is another sad development for the struggling 29-year-old. Signed for six more years at $9 million a season, he has arguably the worst contract in hockey. While extremely unlikely, maybe the Sabres could throw in significant assets to pawn off Skinner to Seattle.
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