Tonight was the expansion draft, and yeah, I know like 80% of it was leaked online. Still. We saw Mt. Rainier, Pike’s Place Market with a thrown fish, the Space Needle, local sports icons, Macklemore, a whole lot of sea life, and everything about it felt incredibly, and perfectly, Seattle.
The Pacific Northwest is a weird little corner of our country, but it’s a passionate group. Seattle was livid to lose the Supersonics, who went on to become the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their former stadium has been essentially torn down and rebuilt to be the home of the Kraken. It was only fitting that the two greatest Supersonics in team history, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, came out together to announce a pick.
The Kraken did what they should — they trotted out Kemp and Payton, brought out Sue Bird, Bobby Wagner, Marshawn Lynch (who looked completely lost in his video spot), and even young Mariners prospect Kyle Lewis. The Seattle fanbase was engaged, and dotted the waterways behind the draft show with boats and kayaks. The jerseys looked good and clean, and our own Jesse Spector noted on Twitter that he can’t wait for the inevitable light blue alternate jerseys, to which I completely agree.
As for the actual team, a lot remains to be seen.
If you take out 37-year-old defenseman Mark Giordano, formerly of the Calgary Flames, the average age of the 30 players that the Kraken selected is 25.79 years old. That is… quite young. As the 2021 season got underway, the team with the youngest average age was the New York Rangers at 25.0. The Ottawa Senators were the second youngest at 26.0. Nothing about the Kraken’s age is formalized yet, however, as they will still have to trim their roster down from 30 to 20 players.
Giordano was present tonight, along with five of the other new members of the Kraken organization, for the party. After spending his entire 15-year career with the Calgary Flames, he now joins a new franchise as the elder statesman and veteran locker room presence.
“I’m not going to lie, it feels a little bit different today,” Giordano said. “This is the first time in my career that I’ve ever been drafted, so thank you to the Kraken and I’m happy to be here.”
“You can feel the buzz. I’m ready to go,” he added.
They also announced during the festivities tonight that the Kraken will begin their franchise on October 12 with an opener in Las Vegas, with their home opener set for Oct. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks. In Vancouver, a new natural, geographical rival is born.
The Kraken went young and defensive-minded, while absorbing very little in terms of salary obligations. Instead of opting for some of the more expensive, top-end talents that were available, like Montreal netminder Carey Price, they attempted to build around young, ascending talent. After the success that the Golden Knights had after their expansion four years ago, it’s a starkly different approach.
Seattle also holds the No. 2 overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft next week, adding another level of excitement to the new franchise. They should have no problem captivating the loyal and passionate sportstown that lies in the Emerald City.