Seattle Kraken, the National Hockey League's (NHL) newest franchise, got their preparations for the 2021-22 season underway as they picked 30 players from rival teams in the expansion draft on Wednesday.
The Kraken, who will begin their maiden NHL season from October as the league’s 32nd club, will shortlist 23 players from the 30 players they drafted from other franchises. Seattle was required to pick 14 forwards nine defensemen and three goaltenders, with rival franchises allowed to protect 11 players each.
“We want players with character who can compete hard, with skating and skills and that's the kind of team we've built,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis was quoted as saying by AFP.
Yanni Gourde, a 29-year-old Canadian center, helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win the 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cups. He averaged 18.5 goals a season over the past four campaigns.
Jordan Eberle, a 31-year-old Canadian who played for Edmonton and the past four seasons for the New York Islanders, was excited to join the Kraken.
"It's a new challenge," he said. "You don't get many opportunities to play for a new franchise."
The Kraken hope to duplicate the success of the Vegas Golden Knights, who did not lose a player because they only debuted in the 2017-18 campaign, when they reached the Stanley Cup Final only to fall to Washington.
The Kraken's choices had to fall between 60% and 100% of the NHL salary cap for the 2021-22 campaign, which remains at $81.5 million.
Finding talent on a budget helped push the Kraken to young talent rather than such high-priced available stars as Washington winger Alex Ovechkin and Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who backstopped the Canadiens' run to this month's Stanley Cup Final.
Florida's Chris Driedger, Ottawa's Joey Daccord and Washington's Vitek Vanecek were the goaltenders chosen by the Kraken.
"It's a life-changing moment for me for sure," Driedger said. "To be part of the Kraken is pretty incredible."
Seattle selected a pair of blue-line brothers, adding Anaheim defenseman Haydn Fleury and Montreal defenseman Cale Fleury, and veteran leadership in 37-year-old calgary defenseman Mark Giordano.
Seattle's first NHL home game will be played October 23 against Vancouver. The Kraken will debut October 12 at Vegas.