Two-time Stanley Cup champion Yanni Gourde and 11-year NHL right wing Jordan Eberle were among 30 players selected Wednesday by the Seattle KrakenÂ from rivals in an expansion draft. The Kraken, who begin play in October as the NHL’s 32nd club, will assemble a 23-player roster from the base of talent taken from other franchises.
Seattle was required to select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders. Rivals could 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 said. Gourde, a 29-year-old Canadian center, helped Tampa Bay win the 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cups. He averaged 18.5 goals a season over the past four campaigns for the Lightning.
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