2021 NHL Expansion Draft: All You Need to Know About the Seattle Kraken
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2021 NHL Expansion Draft: All You Need to Know About the Seattle Kraken

As of April 30, after making their first expansion payment, the Seattle Kraken is officially the 30th team to join the NHL. So...now what? The expansion draft. It is a mere few weeks away, and everyone's wondering who the Kraken will pick, who will be off-limits and what this could mean for the league long term. 

If you're an NHL fan or avid hockey bettor, you obviously care about what's going to happen when the league holds their expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken. As always, we have your back.

NHL Expansion Draft Breakdown

The expansion draft can be confusing. The run-up to it is even wilder. If you think the NHL is all about it now, just wait until the Stanley Cup is over. The hype will multiply.

You needn't worry about it, though. Not anymore. We have everything you need to know about the upcoming expansion draft, and what it means for the NHL going forward.

And we begin with the when: The NHL will hold the draft on July 21, a mere eight days after the last possible Stanley Cup game and just two days before the NHL draft.

Prior to this, teams will be required to finalize the list of players they'll be leaving out of the draft. Let's go over the rules.

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NHL Expansion Draft Rules

The Kraken will be following the same guidelines to which the Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL's last expansion team, abided in 2017. There are a ton of rules to go over, but after sifting through the official blueprint printed by the NHL, here are the main ones you need to know:

  • The Kraken will select one player from each team, aside from the Golden Knights, who are exempt as a recent expansion franchise with fewer than a half-decade of time in the league. Seattle will need to grab 26 players in total—14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies—so they won't necessarily keep everyone they choose.
  • Incumbent NHL teams are allowed to protect a total of 11 players on their roster, meaning that the Kraken wouldn't be able to draft them. The breakdown on these protections: seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie.
  • Certain players throughout the NHL have no-movement clauses in their contracts. If they refuse to waive these in advance of the draft, their incumbent teams must use one of their protected slots on them.
  • Among all the players the Kraken select, at least 20 of them need to be under guaranteed contract for the 2021-22 season, meaning they cannot select a bunch of soon-to-be free agents. This rule is in place to ensure expansion teams don't try to cheap out on talent by acquiring them and letting them walk right away. The Kraken is required to use more than 60 percent of the league's projected salary cap by the end of the draft.
  • To prevent present teams from only making seldom-used and injured players or prospects in the minor leagues eligible for the draft, the NHL has implemented baseline criteria for prospective inclusions. Every squad must include at least one defenseman who is under contract for 2021-22 and played in at least 40 NHL games in the previous season; two forwards who are under contract for 2021-22 and played in at least 40 NHL games in the previous season; and one goalie who is under contract for 2021-22 or who will be a restricted free agent over the offseason.

Who Will The Kraken Select In The Expansion Draft?

As we get closer to the actual draft, sportsbooks will start releasing NHL prop bets on who the Kraken will select. While we don't have exact lines now, we've identified a couple of players for you to keep an eye on.

Kevin Shattenkirk, Anaheim Ducks

Why would the Ducks leave one of their—and the league's—best defenseman unprotected leading into the draft? Because they're rebuilding.

After another down season in which they hoped to make the playoffs and didn't, most expect them to hit the reset button. At the age of 32, Kevin Shattenkirk wouldn't fit those long-term plans. And though he's on the older side, he'd give the Kraken a real star to begin their NHL era.

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Mickael Backlund, Calgary Flames

Mickael Backlund, another 32-year-old, is one of the game's most consistent two-way forwards. He has now racked up at least 45 points in five consecutive seasons.

With the Flames floundering near the bottom of the Scotia North Division this year, the expectation is they will start cutting the cord with many of their older veterans. Backlund would be a huge pickup for the Kraken if they're looking to compete immediately.

Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars

Snagging 34-year-old goalkeeper Anton Khubodin would be a freaking steal for the Kraken.

In a vacuum, most would expect the Stars to protect him. However, because fellow goalkeeper has Ben Bishop has a no-movement clause in his contract, Khudobin projects to be available for the taking. 

Will The Kraken Be Good In Year 1?

In other leagues, such as the NBA and NFL, expansion teams are typically at a huge disadvantage. It's different in the NHL.

Expansion teams have access to more star players, and hockey, in general, cannot be as heavily impacted by singular players (like a QB in football or

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    superstar ball-handler in basketball). Depth is more important, and given the protection restrictions in place for current teams, it isn't hard to build a quality roster from the jump.

    Granted, we should wait to pass judgment on the Kraken until they have actually pieced together their docket of players. But we can look to the Vegas Golden Knights as a good comparison. 

    They made the Stanley Cup Final in their first season with the NHL. And that success wasn't a fluke. They have been over .500 and made the playoffs through each of their first four seasons in the NHL.

    This is all to say, when you inevitably consider betting NHL futures, don't just write the Kraken off because they're new. As it turns out, new is sometimes better.

    Check out this list of the best online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your NHL betting:

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