Release the Kraken – How the NHL’s 32nd franchise will be built

NHL new boys Seattle Kraken will pick their team this week (PHOTO: Seattle Kraken)

By Georgia McCann

On Sunday, we learned which players are available to form the basis of the Seattle Kraken for the next few years. 

For those of you who weren’t introduced to NHL hockey when the Vegas Golden Knights joined the league in 2017, here’s what we can expect.

WHO WILL BE PICKED?

This Saturday, with the exception of the Golden Knights, all NHL teams will submit a protected list where all other players are fair game to be selected to join the Kraken. 

But how does this work and who will your team protect? 

A team must submit a list of seven forwards, three defenceman and a goaltender or alternatively, eight skaters and one goalie.  If the team opts for the latter, at least one D-man and two forwards must be on the list. 

The vast majority of the players who are not on the list will then be exposed and could be selected, which can provide a headache for those with fantastic depth, such as this year’s Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning.

A number of teams may look to trade players to assist with their protected list. Recently, we saw former Nashville Predator Viktor Arvidsson head to the LA Kings for two draft picks. 

With Nashville likely to protect their defence corps and go down the eight skaters route, this frees up a space for another forward. An added bonus is the Preds get something for Arvidsson instead of losing him for nothing.

Additionally, all teams must honour No Movement Clauses (NMC) unless the player is willing to waive this. 

Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop has been reported to have agreed to waive his NMC, meaning the Stars will likely protect Anton Khudobin. 

If Bishop is selected and remains healthy, Dallas may come to regret this, as Seattle could have an elite goaltender on their hands.

The full list can be found here.

ARE THERE EXEMPTIONS?

Yes. Players who are first and second year professionals are exempt. 

Using the New York Rangers as an example, the likes of Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere, Igor Shesterkin and Kaapo Kaako will not be exposed or protected. 

Additionally, any unsigned draft pick will not count so teams will not have to worry about a top prospect they haven’t tied down. 

Finally long term injured reserve can factor into this. Players with potential career threatening injuries or have missed over 60 consecutive games cannot be simply exposed unless approved by the league, as often there are examples where they are deemed exempt.

WHAT ABOUT FREE AGENTS?

Once Seattle have sight of the protected lists it time to get to business. They are currently in a priority window, which started on Sunday and ends on Wednesday where they can speak to unrestricted free agents (UFAs).

This year’s class has some interesting pieces with the likes of Dougie Hamilton (Carolina), Taylor Hall (Boston) and Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado) potentially available. 

However, there is a catch – any signing they make counts towards a pick from the players’ old team in the expansion.

CAN SEATTLE BE PERSUADED TO TAKE A PLAYER?

In short, yes. Teams can trade players and entry draft picks on the condition Seattle select a certain player in the expansion draft. 

Vegas made some excellent deals in 2017, one notable being the Pittsburgh Penguins sending a second round pick their way to ensure goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury would be selected. 

Four years on, protected goaltender Matt Murray has endured a difficult year with the Ottawa Senators and Fleury has just secured his first Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s best goaltender.

Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price could be snapped up by Seattle Kraken in the Expansion Draft (PHOTO: NHL)

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE DRAFT IS OVER?

Once selected, a player is not guaranteed to stay in Seattle. The Kraken may trade the player or if he was acquired as part of considerations, the player may actually be a UFA and sign with another team. 

The NHL entry draft takes place this weekend and the Kraken have the second pick.  While they may miss out on Canadian star defenceman Owen Power, there is still a wealth of options to choose from. 

Four days later, the free agency window opens for the whole league and any UFAs they previously did not want to give up a pick for could now be signed. Seattle is a wonderful city and is sure to be an attractive option for a number of players.

It’s an exciting time for any new franchise and one that will be viewed with great interest.  For fans of other teams, it may be a nervy one if their favourite players take up spots on the new team.

We will wait and see.

The NHL Expansion Draft will be shown live on Premier Sports 1 on Thursday 22nd July at 1am

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