Forget floatplane landings, star power and every other rumored possibility that preceded Wednesday’s expansion draft event at Gas Works Park, where the Kraken unveiled its first chosen NHL players.
The Kraken’s expansion selections, one from each of 30 teams, consisted mostly of hard-nosed, workmanlike types better suited to taxi drop-offs in the nearby parking lot than glitzy surprises in front of a live ESPN2 television audience. Once the possibility of the Kraken taking Montreal Canadiens star goalie Carey Price or Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog was eliminated earlier in the day — along with any suspense as the entire player list was leaked by media outlets — all that remained was the show.
And quite the show it was, with around 4,000 people crowded into the park for the ticket-only event on a sun-kissed afternoon with dozens of nearby boaters filling Lake Union to watch the festivities. By the time it was done, the Kraken had built a solid foundation of veteran and youthful players alike, a mostly hungry, cost-contained group that is almost guaranteed to grow with bigger free-agency additions in coming weeks.
“There’s a real good mix of different abilities at all the positions,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said once the players had been announced, with six introduced on the draft stage. “There’s a ton of character. And there’s a ton of competitiveness on that board. That’s a great starting point.”
One of the notable pickups, former Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, 37, epitomized the makeup of the player group when he quipped to the crowd: “This is the first time in my career I’ve ever been drafted.”
Giordano signed with the Flames as an undrafted free agent before embarking on a 15-year career with them that saw him named captain in 2005-06. In 2018-19 he became the fifth NHL defenseman to record a season of 60 or more points after age 35.