Release The Kraken: NHL’s Monster Expansion Process

Updated: Aug 15, 2021


Something is lurking off the coast of Seattle and yes you will need a bigger boat. The Seattle Kraken are officially the 32nd team of the NHL. The Kraken will be members of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference. However, this is not the first time that Seattle has had a professional hockey team playing for the Stanley Cup. The Seattle Metropolitans played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1915 to 1924. The Metropolitans made seven postseason appearances in their nine seasons, playing for the Stanley Cup. The Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917. Ultimately the team folded in 1924 when a replacement arena could not be found.


In the past five years the NHL has welcomed two teams through expansion, the Vegas Golden Knights were added in 2017. The NHL is one of the few leagues that have recently expanded. The MLB added their last team in 1995, the NFL added theirs in 2002 and the NBA added theirs in 2004. The NHL expansion process can be hard to understand because of all the moving parts. Don’t worry because this article will break down the process from start to finish.


For a team to be added to the NHL, the partner(s) of the proposed team have to go in front of the NHL Board of Governors and ask for approval. The Board of Governors consists of one appointee and two alternatives from each team, the appointees are usually the owner of the club. In December 2018, the Board of Governors approved a proposal by the Seattle Hockey Partners to grant an expansion franchise to the city of Seattle. The Seattle Hockey Partners consists of David Bonderman, Jerry Bruckheimer and Tod Leiweke. Minority owners include Chris Ackerley, Ted Ackerley, Jay Deutsch, Mitch Garber, Adrian Hanauer, Andy Jassy, Len Potter, David Wright, and Jeff Wright. After the team was approved the process of picking a name and establishing the franchise begins. On July 23, 2020, the franchise announced their name, the Seattle Kraken. The franchise also debuted their team colors, branding, and home jersey. The last step to officially becoming a team is paying the final installment of the expansion fee. On April 30, 2021, the Kraken paid the final installment of the $650 million expansion fee, officially making them the 32nd team of the NHL.


With the Kraken becoming an official team, it was time to create a roster of players. The Kraken expansion draft was held on July 21 and followed the same rules as the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft in 2017. The Kraken were allowed to select one player from each team excluding the Golden Knights. They could select a total of 30 players: 14 forwards, 9 defensemen and 3 goalies. Additionally, the Kraken has to choose a minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 regular season. The Kraken also cannot buy out players chosen in the expansion draft earlier than the summer following its first season. NHL teams had two options of protecting players from the draft. The first option was protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. Or teams could protect eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie.


Now all the Kraken must do is get ready for their inaugural season. The Kraken will play their first game on October 12, 2021, against the Vegas Golden Knights and their first home game on October 23, 2021, against the Vancouver Canucks. Will the Kraken be like the Golden Knights and make it to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season? Only time will tell, good luck to the Kraken and welcome to the NHL.


Jessica Shaw is the Secretary of the New York Law School Sports Law Society. She can be reached on Twitter @JessicaShaw22.