The Seattle Kraken now have something they have been missing since they were announced as the 32nd team in the NHL.
The Kraken held their expansion draft Wednesday in Seattle. It was the biggest NHL expansion draft ever held, as far as an event goes, and they even had Upper Deck as a corporate sponsor.
This draft was different than the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft from a few years ago. The Golden Knights had a number of side deals made with teams wanting to protect certain players. They also did a lot of wheeling and dealing, drafting players whom the Kraken viewed as assets rather than part of their future.
Because the Golden Knights’ success, most teams were reluctant to offer the Kraken and GM Ron Francis the same generosities they gave to Vegas.
The Kraken selected a mixture of veterans and young players with upside. Picks were announced by famous people like Seattle Seahawks legend Marshawn Lynch, as well as more creative choices like an octopus from the Seattle Aquarium. One pick was even written on a fish tossed in the Pike Place Market.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) July 22, 2021
Although Montreal goalie Carey Price was left unprotected, the Kraken opted to stay away from the 34-year-old and his $10.5 million cap hit, along with his injury history. Florida Panthers back-up Chris Driedger was drafted and signed to a three-year deal worth $10.5 million. The other goalies picked up by the Kraken were Joey Daccord from the Ottawa Senators and Vitek Vanecek of the Washington Capitals.
For collectors who will be fans of the team and looking to get into the hockey card and collectibles market, the team’s young goalies are the best place to start. All three are under the hobby radar and have tremendous upside.
AJ Sports in Toronto is holding a private signing with Vanecek before the end of the month and is taking orders.
Francis selected pending free agent defensemen Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak and then signed them to new contracts. Calgary Flames 37-year-old defenseman Mark Giordano is the early favorite to be the team’s captain.
The biggest names selected by the team are Jordan Eberle of the New York Islanders and former Pittsburgh Penguin Jarred McCann. The Toronto Maple Leafs traded for McCann last week, expecting the Kraken to select him rather than one of their other unprotected players.
Eberle cards are not expensive for the new Kraken collector. His 2010-11 SPx #195 jersey/autograph rookie card numbered to 499 is one place to start. His 2010-11 SP Game Used Rookie Exclusives Autographs card numbered to 100 is another lower cost option among rookie autos.
Eberle was one of a handful of new Kraken players on hand at Gas Works Park for the event. While he gets an ‘A’ for being a fan favorite, he gets an ‘F’ in Seattle Hockey History 101.
“You don’t get many opportunities to be part of a new franchise,” Eberle said in an Associated Press story. “Any time you get that opportunity to bring the Cup to a city that’s never had it before, it’s pretty special.”
The Seattle Metropolitans actually won the 1917 Stanley Cup. They also took part in the 1919 Stanley Cup final with the Montreal Canadiens that was never finished due to Spanish Influenza. In 1920, the Metropolitans were beaten by the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup final, which at that time was billed as the World Series of Hockey.
Upper Deck Promotion
Upper Deck had a strong presence along Lake Union for the event. According to Chris Carlin of Upper Deck, one of the most popular features at the event was the Upper Deck Personalized Trading Card booth, where Kraken fans could be on an Upper Deck Expansion Draft hockey card.
They were also offering free 2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft promo cards exclusively through ePack. This limited edition card set features seven “TBD Player” cards that will be available through July 28. The “TBD Player” Seattle Kraken player cards will automatically be updated with actual draft picks once the event concludes.
There were various Expansion Draft Watch Parties throughout the city, as well as a “sail-gate party” with a giant screen for those watching from the water. Two Seattle sports bars hosted expansion draft parties and had Upper Deck cards and giveaways available.
As far as when Kraken players will appear in Upper Deck’s NHL card sets, Carlin said that the company will get players in uniform in hockey card sets as quickly as possible. The season begins in late October, well after the release of MVP Hockey. 2021-22 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey is expected out in early-to-mid November, so there will not be enough time to get the Kraken players in sets in uniforms until later on.
“We need the team to take the ice so we can get imagery to use for new sets,” Carlin said. “Media photos from events like this are nice, but they are not the same as on ice photography, so we won’t have those types of cards available for the Kraken until November/December.”