Hockey Costs

Kraken and the Coyotes try to prepare for the future with the NHL Entry Draft

Expansion Seattle Kraken had to live with comparisons to the Vegas Golden Knights throughout their just-concluded inaugural National Hockey League season.

“There’s been a lot of talk about it between you guys,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said, referring to the media. “I didn’t listen to him.”

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The Knights broke into the NHL five seasons ago with a surprising first season heading to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Washington Capitals in five games.

That was never going to be in the cards for the Kraken, who didn’t hit big in the expansion draft and eventually garnered amateur draft picks on their way to finishing the playoffs well. Lightning didn’t strike twice.

“Vegas had a different philosophy on how they were going to build their team and used the expansion draft to do that,” said Tim Leiweke, the chief executive of Oak View Group (OVG), which has partnered with Kraken ownership to repurpose Climate Pledge Arena in downtown Seattle. “They wanted to be immediately competitive. It was their decision. Time will tell if it works long term.

In the short term, the Knights barely missed the playoffs after making them in each of their first four seasons.

Meanwhile, the Kraken are at the rendezvous. They’re building through youth, and the first step is tonight’s NHL lottery, when the No. 1 pick will be decided by a weighted random selection of ping pong balls. A second draw will then take place to determine who will get the second choice. The draft itself will take place on June 7 and 8 in Montreal.

The Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes and Kraken have been the league’s worst teams this season and statistically have the best chance of ending up with their own picks as the No. 1 selection.

The odds, according to the NHL, are 18.5% in favor of the Canadiens, followed by the Coyotes at 13.5% and the Kraken at 11.5%.

Shane Wright, a center for Canada, is the consensus first choice, according to

Meanwhile, the Coyotes have three first-round picks, four more in the second round and 10 overall in the draft. That’s their core philosophy as the team prepares to move next season to a new 5,000-seat arena on the Arizona State University campus with an average ticket price of $160.

“I’ve got a priority list sitting on my desk and my No. 1 through No. 10 says draft, draft, draft,” Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said of making the call. team better than its 50-game losing season. “So we’re going to focus on that now.”

Likewise, the Kraken, who are 49 losses, have 12 picks in this year’s draft, including their own first-round pick, four in the second and three in the fourth.

Like Armstrong, Kraken general manager Ron Francis has made it a priority to trade established players with some value to store draft picks.

Over the next three years, the Kraken have already amassed 34 draft picks and the Coyotes have 32.

“Nobody has more draft picks they’re sitting on than the Kraken and the Coyotes,” said Leiweke, whose OVG also operates the ASU arena in Tempe, Ariz., and sign the Coyotes to a three-year lease.

The Coyotes also announced Monday that they have partnered with OVG this season to market and sell sponsorships for NHL games in the new arena.

Now it’s just a matter of how each of these clubs use these draft picks to build a competitive team. Francis, like Armstrong, can’t afford to miss out.

Leiweke, whose brother, Tod, is president of Kraken, said, “Ron is going to build a foundation with great young kids. And you do it through the amateur draft. We’re very, very optimistic and patient with how Ron is building this team.

For the Kraken, the development plan extends to OVG’s partnership agreement with owner David Bonderman, which goes well beyond rebuilding Climate Pledge Arena. This part transformed the old building into a state-of-the-art facility at a cost of $1.15 billion while preserving historic parts of the original structure.

The Kraken sold out last season averaging 17,151 tickets per game or 100.3% capacity, making them one of only six NHL teams to play at 100% capacity in its premises.

The partners have also teamed up to fund an American Hockey League team, as well as a new 10,000-seat arena and training facility in the Coachella Valley, just east of Palm Desert, California. . The cost is $325 million for the franchise, $285 million for the new Acrisure Arena, and the training facility at $35 million, Leiweke said.

“Best in class facilities,” he added.

The arena is expected to be completed in December, a month after the practice facility. Meanwhile, the AHL’s fledgling Firebirds will play their first home games next season in Seattle until the new facilities are ready.

Even so, Firebirds ticket sales have already reached 5,000 in the Coachella Valley, and premium seats and sponsorships have sold out, Leiweke said. Additionally, the new building will be a haven for musical performances, much like Climate Pledge and UBS Arena in Elmont, NY OVG has partnered with the New York Islanders on this wildly successful $1.3 billion building that also opened late last year.

So, the Kraken’s first season in the NHL may have been disappointing, but there’s a plan in place to succeed.

“When you make that kind of commitment, I think people start to understand the philosophy and the direction that the Kraken and the Firebirds are going,” Leiweke said. “We are excited about the future of the Kraken. It will only get better as these young children join them.

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