“NHL Expansion-Seattle…Game On”
Wednesday is another historical day in the sports history of Seattle.
It’s NHL expansion day for the Seattle Kraken, the new hockey franchise that starts this coming fall.
Seattle, a great sports city, has the Seahawks, the Mariners and had the Supersonics. The hockey team will play in the renovated Key Arena right in the heart of downtown. It will be an instant hit with sellouts.
Seattle has hockey history, dating all the way back to the early 1900 Seattle Metropolitans, then the minor league powerhouse Seattle Totems. But expansion history is there for Seattle to follow, dating back to the mid 1960s. The NHL had its first expansion dating back when the league went from 6-to-12 teams in 1967.
Seattle will choose 1-player from each team, and will wind up with 3-goalies..9-defenseman..and 14-forwards. The Kraken will also have a full (81M) budget to spend to get to the NHL salary cap.
The NHL gifted the last expansion team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights with full cap space, limited teams to a small protection list, and guaranteed almost instant success, getting to the NHL playoffs immediately.
The Kraken also have the rights to draft players and then trade them to other clubs for future draft picks, packages that Las Vegas executed that made them so successful early. Once done Wednesday, the Kraken will then get the 2nd pick in Saturday’s entry level draft of young. hockey talent.
The NHL expansion list of players, turned over to Seattle on Saturday, has a staggering amount of big names on it. Big names, big stats, and big salaries.
Now the Kraken have to figure how quickly they want to win, but how much of their salary cap are they willing to give up to take on aging stars
Building expansion teams from the goal out has been the blueprint most teams have used from the very first expansion draft back in 1967, the year the Kings-Flyers-North Stars-Blue-Penguins and California Golden Seals joined the league.
Seattle must decide if Montreal’s Carey Price and his (10.5M) salary over the next five years, fits their game plan. Kings veteran Jonathon Quick (8M) is another big name to consider, along with Vancouver’s Braden Holtby, or Dallas’ Ben Bishop. But the Kraken could draft young, like Florida’s Chris Driedgen or take a shot at Washington’s Vitek Vanecek.
Las Vegas went with Marc Andre Fleury, and the rest is history for what the Knights have become.
You have to score goals in the NHL to be in games, and the Kraken will have a similar decision to make. Big names, big money, some big time injuries.
Colorado, unable to sign 218-goal scorer Gabe Landeskog, made their captain available. Draft him, but then Seattle must sign him at close to (8M) per year.
St. Louis Blues sniper Vlad Tarashenko is on that list too, a big talent, but also dragging with him a (7.5M) contract and 3-shoulder surgeries. Risk-vs-Reward here. A possible ‘Draft & Trade’ scenario.
High priced guys like Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, the Ducks Adam Henrique, Columbus’ Matt Duchene and Montreal’s Jon Drouin could be on the ice opening night, but each has a big pricetag, from (5M-8M) salaries, age, and are coming off disappointing seasons .
Lower priced guys, veterans Jordan Eberle (Islanders), the
Flyers James VanRiemsdyk, Jared McCann (Leafs) and Yanni Gourde (Tampa Bay) might be better choices.
This seems to be a substandard crop of veteran blueliners aside from Calgary captain Mark Giordano or Ryan Johansen (Blue Jackets) but each has a high price. Look for alot of young developed guys to be part of the defense.
There is so much history looking back at past expansion drafts.
Las Vegas got instant firepower in forwards Jon Marchessault, James Neal, David Perron and William Karlsson to go with Fleury.
Seattle hopes to do the same.
Flashing back, there are so many fun names to recall from past drafts and top picks:
(1967)..the Kings took G-Terry Sawchuck and the Flyers selected G-Bernie Parent, and you remember the phrase “Only God saves more than Bernie Parent”. The Blues took goalie legend Glenn Hall, Minnesota gave the green jersey to goalie Cesare Maniago, the Penguins chose Joe Daley and the Seals-Charley Hodge. It took decades before the Kings got to the finals in the Gretzky-Dave Taylor-Kurri era and then won the Cup in 2012 and 2014. California eventually moved to be the Cleveland Barons. The North Stars shocked the world going to Dallas decades later.
(1970)..Buffalo tabbed winger Tom Webster and Vancouver took D-Gary Doak, though the French Connection arrived shortly thereafter to lead the Sabres.
(1972)..The NY Islanders went for goalie Billy Smith and the Atlanta Flames, remember them, took Phil Myrhre.
(1974)..The woeful Washington Capitals top pick was netminder Ron Low, and the Kansas City Scouts selected Michel Plasse. The Scouts became the Colorado Rockies (Don Cherry era) then wound up moving again to be the New Jersey Devils.
(1979)..The 4-teams from the World Hockey Association came on board, with the likes of Gretzky-Messier-Kurri leading the Edmonton Oilers into the league, joined by Quebec-Winnipeg-Hartford.
(1991)..A surprise addition, the league went into San Jose with the Sharks top pick being goalie Jeff Hackett.
(1992)..Ottawa and Tampa weren’t very good very early, and neither were their top picks, goalies Peter Sidorkewicz and Wendell Young.
(1993)..The Anaheim Ducks joined led by a sharp young goalie Guy Hebert and the Panthers took veteran netminder Jon VanBiesbrouck. The Ducks would be something special years later with the Stanley Cup teams led by Paul Kariya and Teemu Sellane.
(1998)..Nashville went off the board with little known D-Chris Armstrong.
(2000)..Columbus led with goalie Rick Tabaracci and the Minnesota Wild chose Jamie McLennan to lead between the pipes.
So at 5pm Wednesday, Seattle will step to the podium to announce its choices to wear the Green-Blue-Silver-Red colors of their uniform opening night.
For NHL fans in the middle of summer…’Game On–Seattle’.