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How will the Seattle Kraken pick its players? How can you attend the event? Here's what we know

By Alec Regimbal, SeattlePI

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: The Team Store for the Seattle Kraken, the NHL's newest franchise, opens for business on August 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: The Team Store for the Seattle Kraken, the NHL's newest franchise, opens for business on August 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

Jim Bennett/Getty Images

The Seattle Kraken will soon have a roster.

The NHL expansion draft is slated to take place Wednesday, July 21, at 5 p.m. Seattle hockey fans can watch the draft live on ESPN2 or attend an in-person event the team is holding at Gas Works Park.

“We’re so excited to reach this milestone and draft our inaugural team in our beautiful city,” Katie Townsend, a spokesperson for the Kraken, said in an email to the Seattle P-I. “We are so fortunate to partner with the NHL to put on an amazing event at Gas Works Park and showcase our region. We’ll be sure to show the world how ready we are for hockey.”


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Only 30 of the league’s now 32 teams will be subject to the draft. Those teams have until Saturday to turn in their lists of nine to 11 players that cannot be drafted. The only team exempt from the draft — other than the Kraken, which will be the only team selecting players — is the Vegas Golden Knights. That team joined the league in 2017 and also picked their roster in an expansion draft.

But how do expansion drafts in the NHL work? Keep reading to see how Seattle’s newest professional sports team will select its roster.

What is an expansion draft?


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In professional sports, an expansion drafts occur when a league decides to add one or more new teams. The new team or teams pick from a pool of free agents and current players on other teams to fill their rosters.  

Established in 2018, the Kraken is the NHL’s newest team. The 2021-22 season will be its first.

How does the expansion draft work?

The Kraken will draft 30 players by picking one from each of the 30 teams subject to the draft. Of those 30, it must select 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. It can fill the remaining four roster spots however it wants.  


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Of its 30 total picks, the Kraken must select at least 20 players currently under contract for next season. That means the team can sign up to 10 free agents — players who are currently not on a team or whose contracts with their current teams expired at the end of last season.

The total salary of the drafted under-contract players must account for at least 60% ($48.9 million) of next season’s $81.5 million salary-cap limit.

After Saturday, the Kraken have three days — July 18, 19 and 20 — to negotiate deals with free agents left off protected player lists (more on that below). If the Kraken reach a deal with a free agent during that window, the team cannot pick another player from that free agent’s former team during the expansion draft on Wednesday. For example, if the Kraken sign a deal with a free agent who played for the Anaheim Ducks last season, they will not be able to pick another Ducks player during the expansion draft.

Which players are protected from being drafted?

Obviously, the league is not allowing the Kraken to pick any one player it wants from the 30 teams subject to the draft.

Teams have two options for protecting their best players: They can exempt seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie, or any eight skaters plus a goalie, from the draft. The first option allows teams to protect more players, but the second option gives teams a bit more latitude to protect the players they want in case, for example, a team has four defensemen it doesn’t want to part with. 

Teams must submit their list of protected players to the league by Saturday.

As mentioned earlier, teams can protect players whose contracts expired at the end of last season. For example, the Washington Capitals probably don’t want to part with their star forward Alex Ovechkin — considered one of the best players in the league — whose contract expired at the end of last season. You can expect to see him on the Capitals’ protected players list.

Additionally, if the upcoming season is a player’s first or second season in the NHL, they are exempt from the expansion draft and teams aren’t required to place them on their protected players lists.


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Why is Las Vegas’ team exempt from the expansion draft?

Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley made a deal with the NHL during their 2016 franchise negotiations to have all Golden Knights players exempted from the next expansion draft.

However, on the flip side, the Golden Knights won’t get a cut of the Kraken’s $650 million expansion fee, which roughly equates to a $21.6 million payout for the other 30 teams.

Which players will the Kraken pick?

That’s impossible to say. However, Seattle Times staff reporter Geoff Baker made some good predictions.


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How can I attend the in-person event in Seattle?

The event is scheduled to take place from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at Gas Works Park on the northern shore of Lake Union.

You need a ticket to attend. Tickets are free, but just exactly how you get one is unclear at this time.

According to the Kraken’s website: “A limited number of tickets will be made available to the public — via fan contests — but the event itself is a closed set and entry will only be allowed if you have a ticket.”

The website doesn’t specify what those fan contests are, and team officials did not respond to questions from the Seattle P-I in time for publication. However, Townsend told the Seattle Times that more information about how to acquire tickets will be released soon.

Until then, you can learn more about the Gas Works Park event, and other Kraken events in the area on Wednesday, on the team’s website.


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Alec Regimbal is a politics reporter at SFGATE. He graduated from Western Washington University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. A Washington State native, Alec previously wrote for the Yakima Herald-Republic and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He also spent two years as a political aide in the Washington State Legislature.