Different Expansion Blueprints

The Seattle Kraken debuted with a 4-3 defeat to the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday in a showdown of the NHL’s latest expansion teams.

It’s one loss, and no one is using it to count them out. But there are still some things to keep in mind before we assume every new team immediately goes to the Stanley Cup Final — like Vegas did in 2018.

Seattle had to go a different route in compiling a roster it hopes can match the Knights’ success — without as much help from the rest of the league.

  • Vegas used expansion draft rules as leverage to stockpile picks and build around core players plucked from other teams (Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonathan Marchessault, David Perron, William Karlson, and Brayden McNabb).
  • “Teams weren’t willing to make mistakes they made last time,” Kraken GM Ron Francis told reporters.
  • Vegas made 10 pre-draft trades, steered by teams toward selecting certain players in exchange for future picks, and five more post-draft.
  • The Kraken did not make any pre-expansion-draft trades and only three post-draft for three future picks.

They do have one part of the blueprint in common: spending against the cap.

Seattle paid more out of the gate for top players — captain Mark Giordano and goalie Philipp Grubauer carry respective cap hits of $6.75M and $5.9M, while Vegas’ top cap hit in 2017-18 was Fleury’s $5.75M.

But the Kraken and Knights ultimately ended up with similar cap space — $6.7M and $6M, respectively.