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At the time of writing, the Seattle Kraken are two wins away from the Western Conference Finals in just their second season of existence. In the playoffs for the first time, the Kraken already discarded the Colorado Avalanche, the reigning Stanley Cup carriers and a favorite to do it again before Seattle revealed alternate plans. The sophomore franchise is riding a wave akin to what the hockey world witnessed five years ago.
In June 2016, the NHL awarded Nevada’s nocturnal neighborhood with an expansion franchise, setting off a course of events that concluded with the Vegas Golden Knights coming three wins away from a Stanley Cup championship almost exactly two years later.
In the 2017-18 season, the Golden Knights experienced the greatest introductory campaign of any North American professional sports expansion franchise ever, let alone in NHL history. They became the first NHL expansion team to notch at least 34 wins or 84 points in their inaugural regular season, ultimately destroying both marks with 51 victories and 109 points as the Golden Knights comfortably collected the Pacific Division crown, doing what hadn’t been done since the New York Rangers won their division as debutants in 1926-27.
And that was all before the playoffs. A first-round sweep, second-round success, and five-game feat in the Western Conference Finals had the Golden Knights playing in the holiest of holies less than a calendar year after the first NHL puck drop on The Strip.
Vegas didn’t get the storybook ending. Instead, the Capitals deserted the docket of Cup-less outfits after 42 seasons of suffering, and the Golden Knights shuffled to their spot in the back of that unlucky line.
The Kraken have since replaced Vegas as the league’s freshest face, entering the NHL in the 2021-22 season. Though the Kraken aren’t on their first rodeo, what they’re doing is much more similar to Vegas in its earliest days compared to the NHL expansion franchises that preceded them. Just ask a Columbus Blue Jackets fan what being a new team in this league used to be like (which is me, and it was bad).
Vegas and Seattle have both benefited from player protection rules in their expansion drafts that favored the freshmen, especially compared to the past. When Columbus and Minnesota took the talent from the other 28 NHL teams in 2000 to get themselves started, their adversaries could hold onto nine forwards, five defensemen, and one goalie. For the 2017 and 2021 expansion drafts, teams could protect only seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie, or eight skaters total and one netminder. The NHL clearly changed its mind – the league wants its expansion teams to compete from the beginning, and even as a bitter Blue Jackets fan, I can’t argue with it.
Why the Golden Knights and Kraken have found their footing so quickly is similar, but how they’re doing it is the polar opposite. Since it began, Vegas has been about slowing things down, grinding games out, and emphasizing intangibles like grit and tenacity. Conversely, Seattle spreads the ice, loving to skate and play with the whole rink. In 5-on-5 situations in the 2022-23 regular season, the Kraken finished in the league’s top five in Corsi (52.73%) and Fenwick (53.43%) and led the NHL in goals scored (209), according to MoneyPuck.com. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights blocked 1,493 shots throughout the same 82 games, the most of any team in the NHL. Yet, both squads finished among the best eight for expected goals against per 60 minutes. Different strokes for different folks.
Vegas built a core through the expansion draft that has proven to be long-lasting. The Golden Knights added William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Shea Theodore, William Carrier, and Brayden McNabb either directly via the expansion draft or in trades triggered by the event, and all six have held required roles in the franchise’s five postseason appearances in six seasons and eight advancements in playoff series so far. The well-oiled machine from a half-decade ago remains purring, even if some of the machine’s cogs have been switched out for shinier, more modern parts.
Now the new kids on the block are having their fun. Jared McCann, Jordan Eberle, Vince Dunn, and a host of other players the Kraken chose in their 2021 expansion draft are delivering some of the best hockey of their careers in the Pacific Northwest. Like Vegas, Seattle was strategically selected for a style, and we’re witnessing the fruits of those decisions in this high-flying, exciting side with an unending aim to generate takeaways for transition trounces – the Kraken followed the Vegas blueprint without following the Vegas blueprint.
The 2023 playoff journeys for each of these teams are yet to finalize. It’s feasible that the next Western Conference Finals features franchises that never knew the Obama administration and/or one of them participates in the biggest annual hockey event the world has to offer. Is this what the NHL envisioned when it laid out those expansion draft rules in 2017?
Back then, Las Vegas was questioned as a pro sports host, and Seattle was long starved for something more than the Seahawks and Mariners. Now, both cities have well-supported representatives vying for the Cup in mid-May while every one of the last 16 NHL champions are hitting the links.
Perhaps this is what we should expect from NHL expansion teams moving forward. It seems unlikely that the league would stick to 32 forever when the game is growing, the talent pool is overloaded, and the live sports market is exploding. Then the Golden Knights and Kraken fans will complain about their promising second-pairing defenseman disappearing into the hands of the Hamilton Hammerheads with the rest of us.
Look at the Canadiens, Seattle and Vegas. Do you think they always used to look like that? That scraggly gray hair used to be a luscious head of lettuce. But they got old, and so will you. Your grandchildren will mock you for your usage of Tik Tok, no matter how cool you tell them it was back in the 20s.
There are two certainties of life that are bandied about, but to exclude the third is a fool’s mistake; there is no inevitability like change. Time is undefeated. Dance while the music plays.
How do you play NHL Survivor Pool?
In an NHL survivor pool, members choose one team from the Saturday games (or games for that week). Each team can only be picked once throughout the season. If they win, the member moves on to the next week. If they lose, the member is eliminated. The last member standing is the winner.
What is NHL Survivor Pool?
In an NHL survivor pool, each member picks one NHL team to win for the week. Each team can only be chosen once during the season. If their pick wins, the member moves on to the following week. If they do not win, the member is disqualified. The last one standing wins.
How to make an NHL pool?
You can just use a hockey pool hosting service like RunYourPool where we do all the work for you! Just sign up to create your own pool, customize your pool settings and invite your friends to play!
How do you play NHL Pick'em Pool?
In NHL Pick'em pools, members will pick the winner of games. The pool commissioner has options to have members pick all games or a specific amount. For each correct pick during regular season, members receive one point. The person with the most points at the end of season wins. Administrators can choose to have 'best bet' picks or 'confidence' points as well.
What is NHL Pick'em Pool?
NHL Pick'em pools have members select the outright winner of each game. The specific amount of games picked is up to the pool commissioner. For every correct pick, members receive one point. These pools typically end in the regular season, as the person with the most points wins. Also, commissioners can choose to have 'confidence' points or 'best bet ' picks.
How to set up an NHL pool?
To set up an NHL pool, you'll need to first choose a pool type like Survivor or Pick'em. Then, you'll need to set the ground rules. As pool commissioner, you'll enforce these rules and make sure the game runs smoothly throughout the season. Many commissioners use pool hosting sites like RunYourPool to make it easier and more engaging.
How to run a weekly NHL pool?
In order to run an NHL pool, you must first crown yourself as Pool Commissioner. Begin by picking a game type like Survivor or Pick'Em. You'll want to establish rules before inviting friends, family, and colleagues to join. As commissioner, you make the rules and also need to enforce them equally and fairly.
How do you play NHL Playoff Pools Power Ranking?
To play in an NHL Playoffs Power Ranking Pool, you need to assign a point value to each NHL team from highest (16) to lowest (1). When a team wins, they receive points based on the number you assigned to them! The member with the most points at the end of the playoffs wins.
What is NHL Playoff Pools Power Ranking?
An NHL Playoff Power Ranking Pool involves all members ranking all 16 NHL teams competing in the NHL Playoffs from strongest (16 points) to weakest (1 point). Members are awarded the number of points assigned to an NHL team when that team wins!
How to run an NHL pool?
How you decide to run a hockey pool varies greatly depending on the game type. In each case, however, you'll want to determine the rules and settings before you begin inviting members to join you. You'll want to clearly establish how score will be kept, how tiebreakers work, and how winners are decided before anything else.