The time has arrived. The Seattle Kraken officially joined the National Hockey League on April 30 when the club made its final expansion payment to the league but the team was missing one key ingredient – players.
That changes tomorrow (July 17) as the 30 other NHL teams released their eligibility lists over the weekend. Seattle brain trust led by general manager Ron Francis is perusing the lists formulating the first-ever Kraken roster.
Technically, the Kraken submit their drafted player list to the league on Wednesday morning. But it’ll be a festive afternoon as the draft’ officially begins at 4 PM at Seattle’s Gasworks Park. The draft will be televised on ESPN2 and the NHL network and watch parties are being held throughout the city. Seattle icons such as Sue Bird, Marshawn Lynch, and Lenny Wilkens will help’ with the Kraken selections.
WHAT PRICES SUCCESS?
Montreal Canadien goaltender Carey Price added some spice to the draft process last weekend when he waived his No Movement Clause making him available to the Kraken. Price, who turns 34 on August 16, has been Les Canadiens goalie since 2007 and is considered one of the best goalies in the sport. A probable Hall-of-Famer, Price led Montreal to the Stanley Cup finals this past season. He’s also the winningest goalie ever for one of hockey’s most storied franchises.
According to TSN, Canada’s national sports network, Price waived his No Movement clause when it became apparent that the Kraken would probably select Montreal’s other goalkeeper Jake Allen if he was available. It was then reported that Price is having hip surgery and would miss the first couple of months of the 2021-22 season.
Needless to say, Price would come at a heavy price (pun intended). He’s currently working on an eight-year $84,000,000 contract, averaging to $10,500,000 a season, which expires in 2026. That’s a big hit to the Kraken salary cap, but Francis is wisely not sharing his plans with anyone. The Kraken is in a good position as they could ask for players and draft choices from Montreal in return for NOT drafting Price.
One possible drawback – Price waived his No Movement Clause for the expansion draft but not his No-Trade Clause. That could limit the Kraken if they plan to draft Price and then trade him to a contending team. For what it’s worth, Price has Pacific Northwest ties. He’s from Vancouver and his wife Angela is a native of Kennewick, Washington. They met when Price played junior hockey for the Tri-City Americans.
The latest rumors have the Kraken signing Phillip Danault – a Canadien – and Chris Driedger – a Florida Panthers goalie – which could help decide Price’s fate regarding the Kraken.
THE DRAFT ITS SELF
The expansion draft sees the Kraken selecting one player each from 30 other NHL teams. The Las Vegas Golden Knights, the last expansion team to enter the league in 2017 will not lose a player nor did the Knights receive any of the $650 million expansion fee that Seattle paid the league. The league’s entry draft takes place on Friday and Saturday with all teams selecting college and amateur players from around the world. A lottery was recently held to determine the order of the entry draft. The Kraken received the second pick behind the Buffalo Sabres, who had the worst record in the just-concluded season.
The restrictions placed on the Kraken in the expansion draft may read like the tax code but aren’t hard to understand. The same rules that applied to the Knights in the summer of `17 are still in play.
The 30 players the Kraken select must comprise 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies. All players selected must be under contract for the 2021-22 season and their aggregate salaries must fall between 60-100 of the league’s $81.5 million salary cap. The Kraken cannot buy out (release) players chosen in the expansion draft until the summer following their first season.
Seattle has a tough act to follow as the Knights were the most successful expansion team record-wise in the history of major sports leagues. The Vegas entry made the Stanley Cup finals in their first season. A large part of the Knights’ success came from general manager George McPhee stockpiling players and draft choices in return for promising not to draft certain players.
Whether Kraken GM Ron Francis will be able to pull off the same type of wheeler-dealing on the draft day remains to be seen. But for hockey fans in the Pacific Northwest, exciting times are upcoming as the Kraken put together their first-ever roster.