How does the NHL expansion draft work?

The Seattle Kraken will have a full roster of players this time Thursday, but what are the rules for the NHL expansion draft?

By the end of the proceedings during the NHL expansion draft Wednesday night, the Seattle Kraken will have a full roster of players as the league’s 32nd franchise. They will pluck players from 30 other teams in the league, with the Vegas Golden Knights exempt. It has been typical for the most recent NHL expansion team(s), as the Knights are since they came into the league four years ago, to be exempt from the next expansion draft.

The Kraken could take a player, then trade him for future assets. They could be a player in free agency when it opens in the more traditional window for all teams next week.

How does the NHL expansion draft work?

Last Saturday, teams had to submit their lists of protected players for the expansion draft. The following day, the lists were made public. The Kraken will have some interesting decisions to make, with some big names available. They have to pick one player from each eligible team to form an initial roster of 30 players-with at least 14 forwards, nine defenseman and three goaltenders.

Starting Sunday, through Wednesday, the Kraken had an exclusive window to negotiate with pending unrestricted free agents. If any agreements are reached, that player becomes the player the Kraken will take in the expansion draft from the team he’s leaving. Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger is in line to follow that template for Seattle. Based on reports Wednesday morning, free agent defenseman Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak will be signed and count as the Kraken’s picks from Edmonton and Dallas respectively. By the time the expansion draft starts, there may be other free agent signings reported and confirmed. With side deals likely, the Kraken will surely have more than one player from some teams when it’s all said and done heading into their first season.

At least 20 of the players Seattle chooses have to be under contract for the 2021-22 season, and combined to be within the lower and upper limits of the salary cap. That salary floor is 60 percent of the $81.5 million upper limit.

The Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, and they’ve been a playoff team in all four years of their existence. The Kraken will try to have the same instant success, with the same rules Vegas had for their expansion draft opening the door for it.

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