Chicago Blackhawks: They Released the Kraken…Now What?

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SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – AUGUST 21: The Team Store for the Seattle Kraken, the NHL’s newest franchise, opens for business on August 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

The list of things to do for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks front office is extensive this offseason.

There are RFAs, UFAs, the Draft, and assembling a roster that can build on the surprising play of the 2020-2021 truncated season. But up next on the docket is the arrival of the Seattle Kraken, and their expansion draft which will impact the Chicago Blackhawks.

According to, the rules for this expansion draft are the same as they were for the Vegas Golden Knights, with one exception: The Golden Knights are excluded from the pool of teams the Kraken can choose from. Here is an article that explains the rules from

There are guidelines for both the Kraken and the other 30 teams in the Expansion Draft:

  • Kraken Will Select 1 player from each eligible team (excluding Vegas) – 30 total
  • Must select at least 14 F, 9 D, and 3 G
  • Must choose at least 20 players that are currently under contract for ’21-‘22, and reach 60% of the Upper Limit of the Salary Cap
  • Cannot buy out any contracts until after the conclusion of their first season in the league

Participating Team Guidelines:

  • Can protect players from the Expansion Draft (7 F/3 D/ 1 G, OR  8 Skaters/ 1 G)
  • All players with No-Movement Clauses must be protected, and count towards the protected group (in the case of the Blackhawks, that means Kane, Toews, Keith, and Seabrook count in the protected group)
  • Must expose a player that meets the following criteria:
    • 1 D who is under contract for ’21-’22, AND played either 40+ games in the prior season, or 70+ games the prior two seasons
    • 2 F who are under contract for ’21-’22 AND played either 40+ games in the prior season, or 70+ games the prior two seasons
    • 1 G who is under contract for ’21-’22, or will be an RFA this offseason. If RFA is chosen, the qualifying offer must be tendered prior to expansion draft.
  • Players with potential career-ending injuries or have missed 60+ consecutive games MAY NOT be used to satisfy a team’s exposure requirements unless approved by the NHL (Seabrook and Shaw could fall under this distinction)

By Saturday, July 17th, teams are required to submit their lists to the NHL, so the Kraken know who the pool of available players are they can choose from.

Ok, so that’s the what of Expansion Drafting for the Kraken. Which brings us to the Blackhawks. Any player they own the rights to but has not signed an entry-level contract is exempt, so we will ignore that group for now. Also, any first or second-year professionals are exempt from selection, so that automatically protects a group of players, without counting against the total. I will take a look at that group in a future article, as there is some appeal to not only the Kraken, but other teams as well.

First, the Hawks have to decide who to protect.  We are going to take a look at each position group, and review all the players eligible for protection or exposure in the Expansion Draft. I will provide a brief assessment of the player based on stats and my own observations, and then provide both a verdict of what I would do, and the risks associated with doing it my way. We’ll start with the easiest one first:

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