There will soon be hockey in Seattle.
The Seattle Kraken will take the ice this fall as the NHL’s 32nd franchise, although you’ll have to wait a little longer to find out the exact date of their debut. Until then, we have you covered with everything you need to know about the upcoming season — from important dates to key figures to how you can watch and listen during the 2021-22 season.
Let’s get started.
On April 30, the Kraken officially became the 32nd NHL club when they made the final payment for the $650 million expansion fee. They will be the first professional hockey team in Seattle since the Totems’ final season in 1974-75. The Kraken made their name official in July 2020, debuting a color scheme of icy blue and navy blue with red accents. The primary logo features an ’S,’ which is a nod to the Metropolitans, Seattle’s original professional hockey team that played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.
Expansion draft basics
The Kraken will start putting together their roster during the expansion draft on July 21. The rules will be the same as the Vegas Golden Knights’ draft in 2017. Seattle will select players from 30 of the 31 teams — excluding Vegas.
Teams will submit a list of protected players before the draft. They must expose at least two forwards and one defenseman that played 40 games in the 2020-21 season or more than 70 days in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 season. They must also expose a goaltender that is under contract for 2021-22 or became a restricted free agent in 2021.
The Kraken must select at least 20 players that are under contract for 2021-22. They must also pick a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
When will the season start?
In typical seasons, teams play exhibition games in September before the regular season begins in October. After a 2020-21 season that was disrupted by COVID-19, the NHL is reportedly targeting an Oct. 12 start date for the 2021-22 season with training camps starting on Sept. 22.
What division will Seattle play in?
The Kraken will play in the Pacific Division of the NHL Western Conference, along with Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver and Vegas. Arizona moved to the Central Division to make room for the Kraken.
The Kraken will play at Climate Pledge Arena, where the capacity for hockey is 17,100. The venue is expected to host more than 200 events annually, including NHL games, WNBA games and concerts.
Dates to know
July 17: Teams submit protected lists for the Expansion Draft
July 21: Expansion Draft
July 23-24: NHL Draft
July 28: Free agency opens
Note: While the NHL Draft will allow the Kraken to build a prospect base, free agency will give them the chance to add more players to their roster after the expansion draft.
David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer: The co-founders and co-majority owners of the Kraken. Bonderman is a billionaire businessman who is also a minority owner of the Boston Celtics. Bruckheimer is an American film and television producer.
Ron Francis: Francis was hired as the Kraken’s first general manager in July 2019. A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Francis had a 23-year Hall of Fame career with the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes. Named the Hurricanes’ general manager in 2014, Francis served for four seasons before he was fired in 2018.
Ricky Olczyk: Olczyk will be an assistant general manager. A professional scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018-19, Olczyk also spent four seasons as assistant general manager for the Hurricanes under Francis.
Jason Botterill: The former Buffalo Sabres general manager was named an assistant general manager in January. Botterill was with the Sabres from 2017 until he was fired in June 2020. He also spent 10 years in the personnel department for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Luke Hemman: The 21-year-old became the Kraken’s first player in May. Heman, a team captain and center for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the Quebec Major Juniors Hockey League, agreed to a two-way contract.
Is there a coaching staff?
Not yet, and that’s the biggest item on the Krakens’ to-do list. The search is ongoing, and could include candidates who are currently coaching. Recently, reports surfaced that Rick Tocchet would interview to become Seattle’s first head coach. He’s the first known candidate for the job.
Tocchet was the interim head coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008-09 and the head coach in 2009-10. He was fired after that season and was an assistant for the Pittsburgh Penguins before the Arizona Coyotes hired him as a head coach in 2017. He parted ways with the Coyotes after the 2020-21 season.
TV and radio information
The Kraken have a broadcast rights deal with Root Sports Northwest, which will televise about 75 of the team’s regular-season games. John Forslund will serve as the television play-by-play announcer. One of his signature calls after a noteworthy play is, “That’s hockey, baby1”
Sports Radio 950 KJR will be the flagship station. Fans will also be able to stream all home and road games via the iHeartRadio app. Some games will be available on KJAQ-JACK-FM (86.5). Broadcaster Everett “Fitz” Fitzhugh will be the team’s radio voice, and the first full-time Black broadcaster in NHL history.
Seasons tickets are already sold out. The Kraken received 33,000 season-ticket deposits and now have a wait list for season tickets. More information about tickets can be found on the Kraken’s website.