Release the Kraken! The Seattle Kraken have officially become an NHL franchise. Per a Friday press release by the NHL, the Kraken will begin operations during the 2021-22 season and become the league’s 32nd team.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman joins many hockey fans in his excitement that the city of Seattle has finally acquired a pro hockey franchise. “On behalf of the Board of Governors, I am delighted to officially welcome the Seattle Kraken to the NHL as our 32nd Member Club,” Bettman wrote. “Congratulations to David Bonderman, the Bonderman Family, their partners, the entire Seattle Kraken organization, the city of Seattle and Kraken fans as the Club continues on its exciting journey towards puck drop in October.”
Now, the process of the Kraken assembling their actual team becomes priority no. 1. Taking place on July 21, the NHL Expansion Draft will see the Kraken select one player from every other franchise in the league, with the exception of the Vegas Golden Knights (who began operations in 2017). 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders will comprise the lineup. The other 30 teams who are vulnerable in the draft do have options to protect players, though: they can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie or eight skaters (any combination of forwards and defensemen) and one goalie.
A division shakeup will take place as well with the inaugural Kraken season. The Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division, with the Kraken taking their place in the Pacific Division. Keeping the nautical theme of other Seattle clubs (Seahawks, Mariners, etc.), the Seattle Kraken will be an exciting new team to keep an eye on out west.