The NHL has a new team coming into the 2021-2022 season. They're the Seattle Kraken and they're returning winter sports normalcy to the Emerald City. With that comes an expansion draft that allows the newest team the opportunity to draft whoever they please, building a foundation for the future. The only exception to this event was the Vegas Golden Knights, who were added to the league a few years earlier.
There were many recognizable names on the board for the Kraken. Such stars that were available included Vladimir Tarasenko, Carey Price, Alex Killorn, and Alexander Ovechkin. These players would provide Seattle the opportunity to build a strong foundation but at a price. Most of these names had hefty contracts with them, giving the newest NHL team a significant cap hit. So how did hockey's new darling do?
General manager Ron Francis had a plan in mind, building the backcheck and adding youth. That included names such as Jeremy Lauzon, Carson Soucy, and William Borgen. However, the former Hurricanes executive did add some veterans to the mix, plucking Mark Giordano, Joonas Donskoi, and Jordan Eberle. Getting these seasoned players will help the young Seattle group move ahead and develop, namely with the newly drafted Matthew Berniers.
However, there are many glaring problems with the draft. For one, Seattle had the chance to take a big name, significantly Price or Tarasenko. A paramount part of Vegas's success was drafting Marc-Andre Fleury, giving the Golden Knights an established goaltender with a playoff pedigree. Even if Price had issues such as age and injury history, he could've given the newest team a jump start. That's especially true with the amazing playoff run he had this postseason.
Another key component of Vegas's success was having timely goal scorers who answered the call. The Golden Knights weren't afraid to pull the trigger on big moves, acquiring names such as Max Pacioretty and Alex Pietrangelo. The willingness to spend and win is what brought excitement to Sin City. I was expecting the same thing with Seattle, picking up the necessary pieces to thrive.
That leads to my next point. Another issue with Seattle's draft is how conservative they were. With around $78 million in cap space, the Kraken could've taken one or two of these big names off of the board. Yes, most of these players are coming off down years or injuries and have bloated contracts. But the least you could do is give the fans a recognizable name, especially if you're around $30 million below the cap. The NHL's newest team could've taken a flyer on Price and/or Tarasenko and still had the picks they needed for the future.
I'm excited that the NHL is coming to the Emerald City. It gives fans in the Pacific Northwest a winter sport to watch again, especially after the Supersonics went to Oklahoma City. It also gives Vancouver an instant rival, creating more fun in hockey. However, this expansion draft was extremely underwhelming. While Ron Francis does have a plan going forward, it's a bit reminiscent of his days with Carolina. That couldn't have been more accurate on Tuesday, where there were some hits and misses. For that, Seattle gets a C+ for their efforts.