Now that the Kraken is an official NHL team as of Friday, its next order of business is to hire an official coach.
One top candidate got a status boost this past week, when Gerard Gallant was named Team Canada’s coach for the men’s IIHF World Championships this month in Riga, Latvia. It will be Gallant’s first coaching gig since the Vegas Golden Knights fired him in January 2020.
The tournament typically is rounded out by NHL players whose teams don’t qualify for the playoffs or are eliminated.
You might remember that current Kraken general manager Ron Francis and assistant GM Jason Botterill formed part of a three-member Team Canada management team for the 2019 tournament in Slovakia. They were joined by current Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall. Finland beat Canada for the gold that year, and Team USA placed seventh. Francis was hired by the Kraken 2 1/2 months later.
In case you’re wondering, the latest odds on the Kraken’s first coach from online sportsbook Bodog have Gallant leading at +75, followed by Bruce Boudreau at +250, Claude Julien at +450, Todd Nelson at +900 and rounded out by Rikard Gronborg +1,100, Rod Brind’Amour +1,200, John Stevens +1,200, Mike Babcock +1,200, Mike Vellucci +1,400, Dan Bylsma +2,000 and Mike Yeo +1,200.
OK, let’s stop playing the numbers and start answering some mailbag questions.
Q: @jayschn66573313 asked: During an expansion draft where players are made available on other teams are any of these players protected by said team? I am under the impression during an expansion draft in the NHL the expansion team is allowed to pick players off of other teams.
A: Yes, the Kraken picks one player off every team except the Vegas Golden Knights, who are exempt. So, that’s 30 players the Kraken picks, and each team protects the ones they most want to keep.
The Kraken is required to choose 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies at a minimum and can fill the remaining four slots as it wishes. The 30 players it takes must earn at least 60% of next season’s $81.5 million salary cap limit — meaning $48.9 million.
Teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie. Or, they can protect eight skaters overall and a goalie. Protection lists must be submitted by July 17, ahead of the July 21 expansion draft.
Players with no-movement clauses must be protected unless they are waived ahead of time. First- and second-year players and unsigned amateur draft picks are exempt from the expansion draft and don’t have to be protected, nor do players with potential career-ending injuries.
But teams must make at least two forwards, one defenseman and one goalie available. The Vancouver Canucks wanted to protect eligible players they had and lacked a defenseman to expose, so at last month’s trade deadline they dealt a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft to Chicago to get Madison Bowie and a fifth-round pick.
Barring something unforeseen, Bowie will be the defenseman the Canucks now leave unprotected.
Teams can try to make side deals with the Kraken so it doesn’t pick a certain exposed player. But they can’t force the Kraken to bypass anyone not on the protected list.
Q: @Bmanhusky asked: Can you breakdown how the expansion draft works? How many players do we select from other teams? Do we participate in the normal draft?
A: I’ve answered most of the expansion dynamics in the previous response, but don’t mind breaking things up a bit.
One other component to the expansion draft, which will take place in Seattle with some form of televised showing and possibly even minimal fan attendance at one or more outdoor locations, will be the Kraken getting a three-day exclusive window July 18-21 to negotiate with pending unrestricted free agents left off protection lists submitted July 17. If it signs that player ahead of the draft, he counts as his former team’s surrendered pick.
The Kraken can sign up to 10 free agents this way.
Yes, the Kraken is also in the NHL entry draft July 23-24. It has the third-best lottery odds for a shot at the No. 1 overall pick, which will likely be University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power. The Kraken is guaranteed to pick no lower than No. 5 overall. Previously, it was no lower than No. 6, but the NHL revamped its draft formula last month — making it tougher odds for the Kraken to draft No. 1 overall, but also moving up its guaranteed minimum by one slot.
After that, it gets the third-best pick in Rounds 2-7.
Q: @bdgiddens asked: You’re living the dream! (1)Thus far as our local newspaper hockey writer, do you have regular access to GM Francis? (2)Is it realistic for Seattle to obtain the rights to standout Everett Silvertips Goalie Dustin Wolf? (3)Are there plans for Seattle to host a future all game?
A: Yes, I’ve had phone and in-person access to Francis for nearly two years, but I try not to abuse it because he’s busy putting a team together. I won’t ask stuff like “Who are you going to sign as a free agent?” because he’d never tell me. But I’ve picked his brain on general stuff that might guide me in a particular direction as opposed to looking for quotes.
Wolf likely won’t be in the NHL for a few seasons. His showings with the ‘Tips and Team USA at the world juniors suggest he could become one of those late-bloomer steals, but the Calgary Flames didn’t exactly use a high pick on him in 2019 (214th overall) so why shouldn’t they wait to see whether he’s a keeper? Calgary’s February signing of Jacob Markstrom to a six-year deal means he’s No. 1 for a while. The Flames just traded backup David Rittich to the Maple Leafs, and Louis Domingue is nothing special, so they’ll plug a free agent in next year as the No. 2 guy. That buys Wolf some AHL time to hone his pro game.
Seattle has been guaranteed an All-Star Game within seven years, but there’s a backlog of them now because of COVID-19 cancellations that the league is sorting out.
Q: @michaelgutnick asked: If you had the choice to pick the #SEAKraken entrance song onto the ice, which would you choose and why?
A: Wow, that’s a tough one. I could try to sound cool and say “Anything by Pantera,” but that alone sounds very uncool as I type it.
First, the intro song can’t be about your favorite style of music. It must appeal to everybody on a primal level, meaning hard drum and base beats that get the masses fist-pumping and foot-stomping even if the lyrics aren’t for them. Nothing too fast-paced right off the bat. You have to hook the crowd.
There’s a reason Enter Sandman by Metallica has endured for 30 years in sports venues and We Will Rock You‘ by Queen for more than 40. No, not just because baby boomers love them. Their beats have staying power, and the lyrics aren’t too shabby.
That said, not all pump-up music has to be classic oldies. I’ll never forget the energy inside Fenway Park when Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon entered games in the mid-2000s and I’m Shipping Up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys began playing.
We’ve experienced something similar in Seattle from a local musician, with Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore during the Seahawks’ run to the Super Bowl title in 2013. Macklemore’s music was, um, softer-edged than that of Dropkick Murphys, but the song worked given the timing behind its release, the upbeat vibe and the lyrics and their meaning for Seahawks fans.
Now, I don’t think Can’t Hold Us‘ will work as Kraken walkout music. It has a bit of a “been there, done that” feel.
When the Golden Knights began play in 2017, their walkout song was the electronic dance hit John Wick Mode by Le Castle Vania from the John Wick Chapter 2 movie starring Keanu Reaves. Who would have guessed that would work?
I’d try to find something local, maybe still mainstream but just a touch off it so it doesn’t feel like fast-paced elevator music. Smells like Teen Spirit by Nirvana works great, but it’s overdone to where its universally recognized and no longer Seattle’s specifically. Jet City Woman by Queensryche or Everlong by Foo Fighters are still mainstream, just slightly less so. Chochise by Audioslave, featuring Chris Cornell as frontman, is more obscure but has the buildup you look for in an intro song.
Failing that, something with water or nautical themes with staying power. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple could work. OK, that sounds very lame now that I’ve read it out loud. I’ll be up in the press box in six months if you need me for anything else.