Seattle Kraken expansion draft: NHL GMs learned from Vegas

Four years after the Vegas Golden Knights burst into the NHL by making 10 trades at their expansion draft, the Seattle Kraken came away with none.

That means no extra prospects, roster players or draft picks stockpiled because another team wanted to give up a certain player or keep from losing someone left unprotected by rules designed to make modern expansion teams competitive. Seattle is expected to flip some of the 30 players selected when the trade freeze lifts Thursday afternoon, but this was a much different expansion draft experience than Vegas had in 2017.

“Vegas did a good job taking advantage of the rules and sort of everyone’s lack of experience in that environment,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said during a video call Wednesday night. “Last time where GMs were more willing to, in a sense, overpay to protect certain assets, this time they learned from that and they weren’t willing to make the mistakes that they made last time.”

Back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay did not give up anything to keep from losing valuable center Yanni Gourde, who will miss the start of Seattle’s inaugural season rehabbing from the shoulder surgery he had Monday. Cup finalist Montreal didn’t need to convince the Kraken not to take star goaltender Carey Price. And Calgary didn’t pay up to keep captain Mark Giordano.

That doesn’t mean Francis didn’t try. Flames GM Brad Treliving called it “a price that we couldn’t pay.”

“You look around the league, there wasn’t a lot of deals,” Treliving said. “If there was a way that we could have done it within reason — those conversations should be kept behind closed doors — if there was a way within means that made sense for this not to happen, we certainly would have pursued it.”

Since it wasn’t “within reason,” some teams didn’t even pursue a trade, anticipating Seattle would choose between a couple of obvious options.

Minnesota’s Bill Guerin, who bought out franchise pillars Ryan Suter and Zach Parise in part to prepare for expansion, said the Wild knew they would lose one player and didn’t want to make it worse.

“We would lose more assets than we already have, so this was kind of the way we approached it all along,” Guerin said after Seattle took defenseman Carson Soucy over goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen. “It’s about being prepared and about having a plan for either circumstance.”

Being prepared for a few years benefitted the league’s other 31 teams. Seattle was awarded a franchise late in 2018 and the long runway to begin play in 2021 allowed GMs to plan ahead.

The salary cap remaining flat because of pandemic revenue losses added a curveball, but rivals used every last second to protect themselves and each other from the Kraken. And Francis pointed out that Vegas not losing a player in this expansion draft — the Golden Knights don’t get a cut of Seattle’s $650 million entry fee — allowed the league’s 31st team to have an impact.

“You look at Vegas’ expansion draft, they had nobody sitting on the outside that could affect their protection list of the other teams,” he said. “We had Vegas sitting on the outside, and in fact they were able to make a couple of trades that affected multiple protection lists for us.”

The Golden Knights on Saturday acquired center Brett Howden from the Rangers and were part of a three-team trade that landed them 2017 No. 2 pick Nolan Patrick and allowed Philadelphia and Nashville to shuffle their protected lists.

Asked how many trades Seattle had agreed to that would become official Thursday, Francis said: “Probably a lot less than you guys are thinking might be.” He chuckled, but he’s not done.

Fortunately for the Kraken, the puck doesn’t drop this week and there’s plenty of time and salary cap space to get ready for training camp and opening night. They own the second pick in the draft Friday night and could be active in free agency when it opens July 28.

“A lot of opportunity to sort of tweak our lineup over the next four or five months,” Francis said. “We’ll look to try and take advantage of that if we can.”

NHL schedule will include break but no guarantee of Olympics

SEATTLE (AP) — Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday the NHL schedule will include a break for the 2022 Winter Olympics even though there is no commitment the league’s players will go to Beijing in February.

“I don’t believe there will be an update on the Olympics by the time we release the schedule,” Bettman said ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. “We’ll do what we need to do under the circumstances to release the schedule, and then if things change we’ll do what needs to be done.”

Last month during the Stanley Cup Final, Bettman cast doubt on whether the league would participate, citing safety and logistical concerns along with a tightening time frame.

His tone hasn’t changed much in the weeks since and said the schedule release Thursday will have built-in mechanisms to adjust should players not take part.

Last month, Bettman said one of the only reasons the NHL is still in discussions with Olympic officials is because the league made a commitment to make every effort to participate in the 2022 Games as part of extending the collective bargaining agreement with players last summer.

“We agreed (during) the shutdown, if that’s what the players wanted (we would do it) assuming it could be done under the appropriate terms and conditions,” Bettman said. “And there’s still some open issues that I know the Players’ Association is working on.”

The NHL participated in five consecutive Olympics beginning in 1998 before skipping the 2018 Games in South Korea.

Bettman declined to explain how the schedule will be adjusted should the Olympic break not be needed.

“I’m not going to jump the release. Let’s put it this way: It will be self-explanatory,” he said.

Kraken expansion draft to be milestone for Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) — When the calendar flips to this time of year, there is normally a mix and anger and resentment for sports fans in this corner of the country.

Not this year. Not with one of the biggest moments yet in the creation of the newest NHL franchise about to take place on Wednesday night with the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, during which the team will set the foundation for its first roster.

“I get emotional about this, but it was three-and-a-half years ago that the fans took this huge leap of faith,” Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said. “And now it’s payback time.”

In an odd synergy of the calendar, the pandemic-related changes to the NHL season landed the expansion draft at a time that brings back painful memories for sports fans in Seattle.

It was 15 years ago this week — July 18, 2006, to be exact — that the NBA’s SuperSonics were sold to owners from outside the region. A two-year fight followed that eventually led to the relocation of Seattle’s first pro sports team to Oklahoma City.

Seattle will finally get a winter pro sports replacement with the debut of the Kraken in October. Short of being awarded the franchise in December 2018, and the completion of its home arena, the expansion draft is the biggest step for Seattle and filling the void of what was lost more than a decade ago.

“It’s really about the players and the fans and tomorrow is the coming together of those two things,” Leiweke said. “It’s just powerful. Some fans feel it’s a long time coming. For me, it’s been three-and-a-half years coming, got some gray hairs as a result of it. But I think the fans are going to really like what they see.”

The unveiling of the Kraken selections will be a quintessential Seattle event. It’s being broadcast from Gas Works Park on the north shore of Lake Union with picturesque shots of the skyline in the background. Fans will be in the park, but the team has asked for a flotilla of fans to assemble on boats, paddleboards and kayaks on the water.

The NHL has recruited local sports celebrities to help announce the selections, including a nod to the SuperSonics with the inclusion of Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens.

Marshawn Lynch and Sue Bird are taking part as well. The Kraken jersey will be unveiled for the first time.

And yes, there will be a fish getting tossed at Pike Place Market as a way to reveal one of the selections.

“The goal here is to show off Seattle and show off the team to not only the hockey fans of the world, but the sports fans,” said Steve Mayer, the NHL’s chief content officer. “This is a cool moment.”

While the night will include plenty of pomp and circumstance, the team’s future ultimately rests with the decisions made by general manager Ron Francis and the rest of the Kraken front office. The 669 players left unprotected for the expansion draft created numerous avenues for Seattle, from trying to match the success of Vegas from its inaugural season to going younger and cheaper and looking to develop long-term.

Seattle must take at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies, and spend at least $48 million of its $81.5 million in salary cap space.

The biggest decision could come at goalie. Montreal’s Carey Price, fresh off a sterling playoff run, is available but at a cost of $10.5 million per year for five more seasons and questions about his health. Price would be an instant face of the franchise with significant connections to the Pacific Northwest, but his salary hit could limit Seattle’s maneuverability.

There are also big names like Vladimir Tarasenko, Gabriel Landeskog, Mark Giordano, Ryan Johansen, Max Domi, Tyler Johnson and P.K. Subban all floating out there as potential selections if Seattle wants established veterans anchoring its roster.

“I certainly think there’s going to be some good players available,” Francis said. “Hopefully when they get selected here we can get them into town, and walk out on stage and they can become sort of the early faces of our Seattle Kraken lineup and the fans will relate to them as well.”

Predators prospect Luke Prokop proudly comes out as gay

A Nashville Predators prospect has come out as gay, a milestone moment for the sport of hockey as the first player signed to an NHL contract to make that declaration publicly.

Luke Prokop said he was proud to say he is gay. The 19-year-old Canadian who was a third-round pick in the 2020 draft last fall, posted his announcement to Twitter on Monday.

“It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I cannot be happier with my decision to come out,” he said. “From a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink improve my chances for filling my dreams.”

No active NHL player has come out as gay. Prokop said he hopes his example shows that gay people are welcome in the hockey community.

Don Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, said, “We know the NHL hockey community will support Luke as he strives toward his goal of playing in the NHL, and we applaud the example he is setting for those in the game of hockey and beyond.”

This comes on the heels of Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib becoming the first active NFL player to come out in June.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman commended Prokop “for sharing his truth and for being so brave.”

“I share his hope that these announcements can become more common in the hockey community,” Bettman said n a statement. “LGBTQ players, coaches and staff can only perform at their absolute best if they live their lives as their full and true selves. We do not take the meaning and importance of this announcement lightly.”

The Predators said in a statement the club is “proud of Luke for the courage he is displaying in coming out today, and we will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect.”

A 6-foot-4, 218-pound defenseman, Prokop could be a part of Nashville’s youth movement in the coming years. Owner Harris Turner and president Jon Greenberg of the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals, Nashville’s top minor league affiliate, lauded Prokop for his decision.

Prokop is from Edmonton, Alberta. He played parts of the past four seasons with Calgary in the Western Hockey League. The Calgary Hitmen said in a statement, “Representation matters, and your courage will help so many others.”

Bettman pledged the NHL will “do everything possible to ensure Luke’s experience is a welcoming and affirmative one” and work to ensure support for players who follow his path.

Prokop said the past year and a half gave him a chance to find his true self.

“I am no longer scared to hide who I am,” he said. “I may be new to the community but I’m eager to learn about the strong and resilient people who came before me and pave the way so I could be more comfortable today.”

Word of Prokop’s announcement went beyond hockey. Tennis legend Billie Jean King tweeted, “His bravery will help so many, as he seizes the power of living authentically.”

Rangers acquire rights to Barclay Goodrow from Lightning

NEW YORK — The New York Rangers acquired the rights to pending free agent forward Barclay Goodrow from back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay on Saturday as part of a pair of moves before the NHL roster freeze for the Seattle expansion draft.

New York sent a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Lightning for Goodrow, one of the key additions who helped Tampa Bay get over the playoff hump and win the Cup each of the past two seasons. The Rangers now have exclusive negotiating rights with Goodrow until the free agent market opens July 28.

With new president and general manager Chris Drury getting his first chance to put his stamp on the roster, New York also sent forward Brett Howden to Vegas for a 2022 fourth-rounder and defenseman Nick DeSimone.

Vegas was similarly active, trading Cody Glass to Nashville for Nolan Patrick, whom the Predators acquired from Philadelphia in a trade for defenseman Ryan Ellis.

NHL’s expansion struggles changed with Vegas and now Seattle

SEATTLE — When the NHL hit the accelerator on expansion some 30 years ago it brought hockey to untapped markets, warm weather destinations and established a footprint throughout all corners of North America.

It also created some pretty terrible teams and wins were hard to come by in places like Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Ottawa, Atlanta and Nashville for several seasons.

“In the past, we were in the era of expansion teams, so when Atlanta came in, you didn’t necessarily need to be your best and still be able to win the game because the team you’re playing against wasn’t like the Vegas expansion team. They were a true expansion team, and they struggled,” former Washington Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig recalled. “You had Columbus when they came in, you had Minnesota when they came in, so there was a handful of those nights that (you couldn’t) take off but you knew you didn’t have to be your best.”

Things have changed.

The NHL reworked its expansion draft rules in 2017 and Vegas flipped the league on its head by becoming the most successful first-year franchise in NHL history, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in the Golden Knights’ inaugural season.

The same rules are in place, meaning the Seattle Kraken franchise is in the same situation when it drafts its first team next Wednesday. In theory, Seattle general manager Ron Francis can put a competitive team on the ice from the outset, just like Vegas.

If only that was the case years ago.

“Hindsight is always 20/20, but I really think the NHL erred in and how they treated the expansion teams all the way up until Vegas,” said Nashville general manager David Poile, who drafted the first Predators roster in 1998. “Oftentimes, in my opinion, we did not do right by the expansion teams, and we made their trek much more difficult than it needed to be.”

Poile is right. The history of expansion in the NHL is a roller coaster of contractions and relocations, strange partnerships and ultimately very little success in the infancy of most franchises.

Teams often went through several roster iterations before success was achieved. For example, when the New York Islanders started their run of four straight Stanley Cup titles in the 1979-80 season there was only one player — Hall of Fame goalie Billy Smith — still on the roster from their expansion draft in 1972.

“We were dealing with a lot of older guys that probably were at the end of the line,” said Carolina general manager Don Waddell, who was the GM in Atlanta when the Thrashers arrived in 1999. “I think we only had one guy stay past two years with our franchise from the expansion draft, which is not the way you probably would hope to set out with an expansion draft.”

After the expansion rush that began in 1991, no team found success faster than the Florida Panthers, who opened play in 1993 and reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1996. The Panthers featured 10 players from their expansion draft on the roster for the 1996 season, including leading scorer Scott Mellanby, but the lineup had been supplemented through the draft (Rob Niedermayer) and trades (Robert Svehla and Stu Barnes).

Ottawa is another example of an expansion franchise that was thumped early but created a foundation that led to 11 straight playoff berths beginning with the Senators’ fifth season.

At the other end was Tampa Bay, which spent 10 seasons mostly at the bottom of the standings with just one playoff berth. The Lightning are the defending back-to-back champions now, with three titles overall, but it took time and investment to finally get there.

Waddell was long gone from Atlanta by the time the Thrashers made the playoffs in 2007, their only playoff berth before moving to Winnipeg. It took six seasons for Poile and the Predators to make the postseason.

“Almost philosophically we drafted a lot of players that we knew would not be with our team for more than a couple of years,” Poile said.

The NHL went through a lengthy expansion pause but when the Golden Knights arrived, friendlier rules and the guile of the Vegas front office transformed the expectations for any team going forward. Vegas found ways to leverage salary cap issues, pilfered teams with bloated rosters and were willing to take on veterans to be solid from the start.

“After the fact, the word I most used most often to describe the entire process was fascinating,” said Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon, who was assistant GM to George McPhee during the expansion draft. “It was a fascinating process to be part of.”

It worked, too: Vegas earned 109 points in its first season and 93 in its second — 61.6% of all the possible points the Golden Knights could have earned over its first 164 regular-season games. Of the previous nine expansion teams, none earned more than 83 points (Florida, 1993-94) in either of their first two seasons. Both San Jose and Ottawa failed to top 40 points in either of their first two campaigns.

Francis knows he needs to find some long-term foundational pieces for Seattle, but everything the franchise does in its first year will be compared to Vegas.

Does Seattle go young and build? Do they absorb salary, cut deals and try to develop a roster that can win from the start? It’s a delicate balance, but whatever approach the Kraken take, those within the NHL believe Seattle being competitive — thanks to the rules in place — is best for the league.

“We came in when the league was paying $75 million for a franchise,” Waddell said. “These guys are paying $650 (million). So they deserve a little better opportunity to build a team.”

NHL teams shuffle before Seattle Kraken expansion draft

Before 30 NHL teams release the list of players available for the Kraken, many of them are shuffling the deck to make sure they’re in good position for the Seattle expansion draft.

Rather than losing Ryan Graves, Colorado traded him to New Jersey. Rather than worry about whether 2020 playoff hero Anton Khudobin would get snapped up, Dallas took goaltender Ben Bishop’s suggestion to expose him instead. Rather than trading or risking the Kraken nabbing defenseman Matt Dumba, Minnesota bought out Ryan Suter and Zach Parise for the expansion draft and other reasons.

“It was a contributing part of the decision,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin said. “We get to protect two more players.”

From players waiving no-movement clauses to GMs making trades and exercising buyouts, this week has been all about preparing for the expansion draft. Protected lists are due Saturday, the Kraken reveal their picks at the expansion draft Wednesday and the rest of the league isn’t standing idly by waiting to see what happens.

“We’re looking at everything,” Philadelphia GM Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday. “It’s an exciting time in a sense that with the Seattle expansion draft, with the flat (salary) cap, you might see maybe a few more trades, a few more hockey trades throughout the week.”

Out of Fletcher’s crystal ball came the Avalanche’s trade Thursday night that sent Graves to the Devils for young forward Mikhail Maltsev and the 61st pick in the regular draft. A 6-foot-5 defenseman who’s only 26 and signed for two more years, Graves almost certainly would’ve been Seattle-bound and now can be protected by New Jersey, which had plenty of protection spots available.

With the 2017 Vegas expansion draft a cautionary tale and the goal of losing as little talent as possible this time, each move happening right now involves some strategy to guard against Seattle. Some moves are more selfless than others.

Bishop, who missed all season recovering from knee surgery, went to GM Jim Nill to offer to waive his no-movement clause so the Stars could protect Khudobin. Bishop could either become for the Kraken what Marc-Andre Fleury was for the Golden Knights as an established goalie for an expansion team or return to Dallas with Khudobin and Jake Oettinger.

Any player with a no-movement clause — the most powerful tool in a player’s contract — must be protected unless he agrees to waive it to save someone else. Colorado’s Erik Johnson and Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner are among the other players who agreed to waive theirs.

Duncan Keith waived his to facilitate a trade from Chicago to Edmonton, and the Oilers are well-positioned to protect the three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time Norris Trophy winner.

Florida is in an easier spot after buying out veteran defenseman Keith Yandle, who had a no-movement clause. As GM Bill Zito said, “While a decision of this kind is never an easy one to make, we believe that this shift is necessary as we look towards the 2021-22 season and our club’s future.”

The future for every team but the Golden Knights involves losing one player to Seattle, and some will make side deals that involve giving up another or a draft pick. Kraken GM Ron Francis will have all the leverage from this weekend through the expansion draft, but until then he’s playing the waiting game while his colleagues plan ahead.

“Seattle, I’m sure, will have good options,” Fletcher said. “They’ve worked hard, but I think we had a little bit more time to plan for this one. We feel like we’re in good shape.”

Blue Jackets’ Matīss Kivlenieks remembered as friend, hero

UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was hailed as a friend and hero during a memorial service held Thursday for the player who died on the Fourth of July from an errant fireworks mortar blast.

Authorities have said the firework at a private home northwest of Detroit tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and was trying to move out of the way of the firework when he was struck.

He suffered chest trauma and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Fellow Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins, a close friend of the 24-year-old Kivlenieks, told the mourners at the Schoedinger Funeral Home in Upper Arlington that his teammate saved him and his pregnant wife the night he was killed.

Merzlikins said he and his wife were roughly 20 to 30 feet behind Kivlenieks when he was struck, telling the crowd: “He saved not just many lives … He saved my (unborn) son, he saved my wife, and he saved me.”

To honor his fallen friend, Merzlikins said his son’s middle name will be Matiss.

Police in Novi, Michigan, have not requested charges in Kivlenieks’ death, saying it still is considered accidental. However, they have asked the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office to review the matter, citing the “high-profile nature” of the death.

Champion Lightning ace final exam on ‘last day of school’

TAMPA, Fla — With the clock ticking on their time together, the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning talked about what they already knew was their last Stanley Cup run as a group.

They talked about it midway through the playoffs. They talked about it on the verge of reaching the final. Changes were coming, so captain Steven Stamkos and his teammates told each other, “Let’s take advantage of this opportunity.”

Tampa Bay did just that in winning the championship back to back, and players and coaches celebrated in a fashion befitting the end of an era. Coach Jon Cooper said it felt like “the last day of school” and the Lightning aced their final exam before inevitable changes break them apart.

“This team, knowing that we’re probably not going to be together, this was the end of a special group for two years,” Cooper said. “Who knows what’s going to happen here, but I think that was a huge motivator for our group.”

It took a strange sequence of events to keep the Lightning together this season. Longtime forward Tyler Johnson was put on waivers last fall when it looked like they needed to clear salary cap space, and general manager Julien BriseBois paid the price of a second-round pick to dump salary in late December.

Then star forward Nikita Kucherov discovered he needed hip surgery, the rehab of which would cause him to miss the entire 56-game regular season that was squeezed into four months. It was a major loss but also one that allowed Tampa Bay to stash his $9.5 million cap hit on long-term injured reserve and put a playoff-worthy team on the ice.

Salary cap gymnastics also allowed Tampa Bay to add David Savard at the trade deadline, and the rugged defenseman who had never won it all before set up rookie Ross Colton’s winning goal in the Cup clincher Wednesday night.

It had all bounced the right way for the Lightning.

“I don’t see the circumstances of what happened last year happening again,” Cooper said during the final. “I know the players don’t see that.”

Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, the 2020 trade deadline pickups who were so important in these two titles, are almost certainly gone as unrestricted free agents. The Lightning could lose Johnson, veteran forward Alex Killorn, savvy defenseman Ryan McDonagh or another important player in the Seattle expansion draft. Playoff leading goal-scorer Brayden Point needs a new contract extension with his deal up next summer.

Add to that the reality of the cap remaining flat at $81.5 million because of pandemic revenue losses across the league, and there’s little cushion for a contender even this deep to pony up to bring the band back together.

Minutes after parading the Stanley Cup around the ice at Amalie Arena, Stamkos said he and his teammates knew that might be the last game the group ever plays together. The Lightning certainly made the most of it as just the second team to repeat since the cap era began in 2005.

“No matter what happens from here on out, this group is going to be etched in history forever,” Stamkos said. “We’re back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. That doesn’t happen very often.”

It’s now up to BriseBois to address Tampa Bay’s impending breakup. After trading first-, second- and fourth-round picks in the draft this year and second- and third-rounders next year as part of loading up to win now, the next steps will be painful and may come with a drop in the standings.

Still, there is reason to believe Tampa Bay will be perennial playoff contenders for years to come and with plenty of talent to add a fourth championship.

Kucherov — who joined Mario Lemieux as the only players to lead two consecutive postseasons in scoring — is signed through 2026. Norris Trophy finalist defenseman and 2020 playoff MVP Victor Hedman is signed through 2025 and Stamkos through 2024.

The most important piece of the future is goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is under contract through 2028. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after never losing back-to-back games and posting a shutout to close out each round.

“When he locks in, he is remarkable to watch,” Cooper said. “I can’t believe how he shuts the door in the biggest games of his career.”

Tampa Bay may need Vasilevskiy to bring his peak playoff form to the regular season. That’s the kind of evolution Jonathan Quick went through with the Los Angeles Kings after winning the Cup twice in three seasons, and Vasilevskiy looks up to the challenge of putting Tampa Bay on his shoulders.

“He doesn’t want people next to him to say he’s the best because he wants to prove it,” Kucherov said. “But I know he’s the best.”

The Lightning the past two years might have been the best the NHL can offer in a cap world, even with an expiration date on a run of success that includes three trips to the final and five to the semifinals in the past seven years.

Cigar in hand, Cooper didn’t want to talk about next season yet. .

“Let’s be honest: We’ve been knocking at the door for so many years,” he said. “To be able to do it back-to-back, it kind of cements this group as, well, they’re special.”

Kraken hire McFarland, Leach as first assistant coaches

SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken hired Paul McFarland and Jay Leach on Tuesday as the first two assistants for head coach Dave Hakstol.

McFarland joins the Kraken from the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League and will be responsible for Seattle’s forwards and power play. Leach was most recently the head coach of Providence in the American Hockey League and will be in charge of defensemen for the Kraken.

“We’re very excited to add two talented hockey minds in Paul and Jay to our inaugural staff,” said Hakstol. “Paul’s work ethic and ability to communicate with players to give them the tools to be at their best along with Jay’s leadership and ability to coach and develop NHL talent will be great additions to our team.”

McFarland, 35, became the head coach in Kingston after three seasons as an assistant in the NHL — two with the Florida Panthers and one with Toronto.

Leach, 41, spent the past four seasons as the head coach in Providence, going 136-77-26. Leach had a limited NHL career, appearing in 70 games for five different teams but had an extensive career playing in the AHL before moving into coaching.

The hires come as Seattle is about two weeks away from filling out its inaugural with the expansion draft set for July 21.