Kraken officially joins the NHL after final payment for expansion
The Seattle Kraken officially joined the NHL on Friday when they made final payment of their $ 650 million expansion fee, allowing them to trade ahead of the 2021 NHL expansion draft on July 21 and to sign free agents ahead of their debut next season.
“On behalf of the Board of Governors, I am delighted to officially welcome the Seattle Kraken to the NHL as a 32nd member club,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “Congratulations to David Bonderman, the Bonderman family, their partners, the entire Seattle Kraken organization, the city of Seattle and the Kraken fans as the club continue their exciting journey to the puck drop in October. “
Bonderman, the majority owner of Kraken, said this brings the franchise closer to its first game next season.
“Today is another momentous day on the way to the puck drop,” said Bonderman. “I want to thank Gary Bettman and the NHL for welcoming us to the league. I also want to thank my partners in our Ownership Group for their support and our amazing fans who have been vocal in their enthusiasm for hockey since deposit day. March 1, 2018, through the name reveal and select their seats. We have an incredible few months ahead of us as we prepare to welcome our inaugural players and finally take to the ice at Climate Pledge Arena. “
The Vegas Golden Knights were the last expansion team to join the NHL, making their debut in 2017-18.
“You always talk to your counterparts and chat with them,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said on April 13, the day after the 2021 NHL trade deadline. “Obviously we’re not an official team in the League until we make our last payment, so you can’t trade, and you don’t have a season in progress this year. , so we’re not really involved in that up front. [the Kraken are] definitely talking to a lot of guys and having discussions, and we’ll continue to do that as we move forward with the expansion project in July. “
Francis said on April 13 that signing college free agents would be a challenge because they often want to play in the NHL and use the first year of their entry-level contracts.
“We cannot burn this year,” Francis said. “We’ll have to start next year, which takes us away from a lot of these negotiations, anyway. But certainly, we’re looking at that. We’re looking at the Ontario Hockey League or the Western Hockey League or Quebec major junior hockey. League players as well as in Europe to see if there are any free agents there that we should sign. “
The Golden Knights signed their first free agent, forward Reid Duke of Brandon of the Western Hockey League, on March 6, 2017. Duke played four seasons in the American Hockey League.
Vegas made several trades ahead of the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, collecting players and assets in exchange for not selecting players left unprotected. It helped set up the Golden Knights for success.
They finished fifth in the NHL and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season, losing to the Washington Capitals in five games, and made the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of their four seasons. . This season, with a 35-11-2, they have the best record in the NHL (0.750 percentage points).
Seattle will have the same expansion draft rules as Vegas (the Golden Knights will be exempt). Teams can protect seven forwards, three defenders and a goalie, or eight skaters and a goalie. The Kraken must select one player from each of the other 30 teams.
These teams are expected to have learned from their 2017 experiences and have had time to prepare. Protection lists for the expansion project are due July 17. Seattle is expected to have opportunities due to the NHL salary cap, which is stable at $ 81.5 million due to low incomes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Francis said on April 13 that it would be interesting to see what the teams are doing with some players, especially restricted free agents with arbitration rights this offseason.
“A lot of teams have really good young players whose contracts are coming in, and it’s a challenge to find the money to make sure you pay these guys,” said Francis. “So we’re looking at all of these different situations in a lot of different teams and trying to see if there’s something that makes sense for us.”