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Seattle Kraken NHL expansion draft: Rules, format, available players

nhl expansion draft

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: Pucks advertise the NHL’s newest franchise during the grand opening of Seattle Kraken Team Store on August 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Seattle Kraken will begin putting together their inaugural roster on Wednesday night during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

Four years after the Vegas Golden Knights began the building process of their team, the NHL’s 32nd franchise will get its chance with the same rules.

When is the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft?

The Kraken will make their picks Wednesday, July 21 at 8 p.m. ET. A party will be held with about 4,000 fans in attendance at Gas Works Park in Seattle.

How many players will the Kraken pick?

General manager Ron Francis and his staff will select one player from every NHL except Vegas. The Golden Knights are exempt from the expansion draft as part of their franchise agreement. There will be 30 players in total chosen, with the Kraken needing to pick at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies.

Twenty of those 30 players must be under contract for the 2021-22 NHL season who have “an aggregate expansion draft value that is between 60%-100%” of the $81.5 million salary cap ceiling.

NHL teams had two options in regards to protecting players:

Option 1
Forwards: 7
Defensemen: 3
Goaltenders: 1

Option 2
Skaters (Forward/Defensemen): 8
Goaltenders: 1

Players drafted by Seattle cannot be bought out until summer 2022 at the earliest.

Who were the exposure requirements?

The minimum exposure requirements were: At least two forwards and one defenseman under contract for the 2021-22 season who played at least 40 games in 2020-21 or 70 games over the last two seasons; and one goalie under contract for 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent this summer and did not received a qualifying offer.

Any players who are deemed to have “potential career-ending injuries” and have missed more than 60 consecutive games cannot be exposed without approval from the NHL.

Who is not eligible to be drafted?

Any first- and second-year players, plus unsigned NHL draft picks were exempt from being exposed.

What about players with no-move clauses?

In order to be eligible to be exposed, any player with a no-move clause had to agree to waive it. A number of players like Milan Lucic, Erik Johnson, Jeff Skinner, Carey Price, and Ben Bishop did so to help their teams protect other players.

Any player with a contract featuring only a no-trade clause was eligible to be exposed.

So who is available?

NHL teams submitted their protected/exposed lists over the weekend and there are a number of notable names available for various reasons.

Yes, Alex Ovechkin was not protected by the Capitals, but he’s a pending unrestricted free agent and it is highly, highly unlikely he would sign with the Kraken. Francis isn’t going to waste a pick in that situation.

Other names available to the Kraken include Price, Gabriel Landeskog, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jordan Eberle, Yanni Gourde, Nino Niederreiter, and Brenden Dillon.

You can see who was protected and who was exposed here.

Can the Kraken sign players now?

Yes, they can, and have! Luke Henman was the franchise’s first official signing back in May. But the Kraken was given an exclusive window from July 18-21 to sign any potential NHL free agents who were not protected by their teams. Should Seattle sign any of those players during that time, it would count as a pick from that team.

So, for example, if Francis gets Taylor Hall to sign a contract, Hall would count as the Bruins’ pick and Boston would not be eligible to lose another player.

The Kraken is also able to hand out eight-year max deals if they sign any players prior to the opening of the NHL free agency period on July 28.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.