The Seattle Kraken will become the 32nd franchise to compete in the NHL when they join in the 2021/22 season. The Kraken have utilized the Expansion Draft to fill their roster, and the franchise will be hopeful of making a strong effort in their inaugural campaign.
Golden Knights set the bar for new franchises
There will be challenges ahead of Dave Hakstol and his team, although the Vegas Golden Knights have shown the way for a new franchise to compete. The Golden Knights surged all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in their maiden term in the 2017/18 season.
Vegas won the Western Conference after beating the Winnipeg Jets, but they were overcome by the quality of the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals. Despite their failure in the title game, the Vegas Golden Knights have been an overwhelming success and have shown that it is possible to compete from the off in the NHL.
The Kraken have signed a number of talented players including Mark Giordano, Jamie Oleksiak, Adam Larsson and Jordan Eberle to their roster. Therefore, they have a solid core to build around with the potential of future signings through free agency. Seattle are backed in the NHL betting odds at +4000 to win the Stanley Cup, which leaves them in the middle of the pack in the minds of the bookmakers before the start of the campaign.
Differing tales in other major sports
The NHL has done a good job of creating instant parity for their new franchises, which has not been evident elsewhere in American sport. In the NBA, the last team to enter the league were the New Orleans Pelicans in 2002. Although the Pelicans reached the post-season in their first two campaigns, they failed to progress beyond the first round. The franchise has struggled continually in the NBA, progressing only as far as the Western Conference Semi-Finals on two occasions. New Orleans have boasted outstanding talent such as Chris Paul, Anthony Davis and now Zion Williamson, but have not been able to able to capitalize to build a championship-caliber team.
The NFL has equally had its own problems with the expansion teams. The most recent side to arrive, the Houston Texans, have not been able to reach the Super Bowl in almost 20 years in the league. Unlike their counterparts in the NHL and NBA, it took nine seasons for the Texans to advance to the playoffs, and they are yet to progress beyond the Divisional Round.
Talent has not been the issue, as arguably the best defensive player in the NFL over the last decade, J.J. Watt played 10 seasons for the franchise. Deshaun Watson has been outstanding since being drafted in 2017, but not even their individual brilliance has been enough to lift the Texans towards the Super Bowl.
The NHL has proven to be different, although it will be up to Hakstol and his team to showcase their ability on the ice. The Kraken have signed capable talent to match up with the leading outfits in the league, but to make a surge like the Golden Knights, they need to form a cohesive unit in a short period of time.