Kraken expansion draft to be milestone for Seattle

SEATTLE — 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.”

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.