The Seattle expansion team will join the Pacific Division in 2021-22

To the surprise of nobody, the NHL’s 32nd team will play in Seattle. The NHL’s Board of Governors unanimously voted in favour of Seattle’s expansion team on Tuesday, paving the way for the newest team to join the league in 2021-22.

The unnamed Seattle team will begin to play in 2021-22. It was originally assumed Seattle would play their inaugural season in 2020-21, but the threat of a lockout and issues with their stadium being ready on time ultimately pushed them back one year.

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Seattle will join the Oilers in the Pacific Division and the Arizona Coyotes will move over to the Central Division. I want to say that I would rather have an expansion team than the Coyotes in the Oilers’ division, but given the immediate success that the Vegas Golden Knights have had, I don’t want to jinx it.

Then, most importantly, there’s the expansion draft. It’ll be the exact same rules as it was with Vegas as teams (other than the Golden Knights, who are exempt from the process) will be able to protect either seven forwards, three defenders, and one goaltender or eight skaters and a goalie. Players with no movement clauses will have to be asked to waive in order to be exposed and players on entry-level deals will be automatically made exempt.

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As I said earlier, it was originally thought that Seattle was going to join the league for the 2020-21 season, but them coming in one year later makes life a lot easier for the Oilers when it comes to dancing around the expansion draft.

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As of right now, the Oilers have three forwards (Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Milan Lucic) and one defenceman (Oscar Klefbom) signed beyond June 2021, which is when the expansion draft will go down. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson, and Kris Russell will become unrestricted free agents on July 1, 2021. Since Evan Bouchard didn’t play more than nine NHL games this season, he’ll still be on his entry-level deal come expansion draft time.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    I certainly hope they can make a go of it? They lost the Sonics due to poor attendance. The Mariners had a great team last season just missing a WC spot. They only averaged 28,000/game, abysmal attendance for a major league sport…
    (sold out all the Jay’s / Mariner’s games to boost that number)
    When Seattle’s NHL season tix went on sale through Stub Hub (deposits put down to secure season tix) Vancouverites purchased 12,000 tickets within minutes. Looking for the re-sale market only. I think the hockey team will be calling for a bail-out within 10 years…. I hope they do well but Seattle is not Chicago.

    • Spiel

      You’re right Seattle is not Chicago. Seattle has a more affluent demographic and isn’t a war zone.
      Seahawks are very well supported with a long, long, waitlist for tickets. The Sounders (MLS) average over 40K per game. Even the WBNA team is near the top in the league in attendance.
      Smart expansion move by the NHL to get there before the NBA.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Your 100% right. The demographic isn’t the same. That may be why the NHL has never had many moments on the local Seattle TV Sports News. In the 27 years it’s been on my TV. I really hope that changes now that their getting a team & it just doesn’t become a “flavour of the day” (yes, I spelled it right, your just over the border, you’d think it would be important to you to know how we spell certain words?… sheeesh).

    • Serious Gord

      Wrong. The issue was the arena. This is very well documented.

      With a modernized arena this will be a very successful franchise – only a handful of seasons tickets have been bought by Canadians. (Seattle is a three hour drive from Vancouver)

      The mariners attendance is 14th out of 32 – just 800/game fewer than Toronto (which is a far larger market).

      • Battman

        I would assume because the nhl wants southern US teams because the location is good for teams to get away from the cold in Canada.
        Could also read into the conspiracy theories to make successful south teams win (Calgary/Tampa final, Edmonton/Carolina final, Vegas/Washington final)

        Also the league will likely move Florida, if it does move them, to Quebec to replace the nordiques. Most logical move there.

    • McRaj

      Its first and second year. Oilers Nation ain’t the best at doing research and editing anymore. Except for Robin and Gregor, those 2 still rock it. No offense though, can’t complain about free content.

      • Cam Lewis

        Good lord. “…. players on entry-level deals will be automatically made exempt.” means literally the exact same thing as first- and second-year professionals are exempt. Come on, at least have some semblance of reading comprehension before you’re going to suggest I don’t know what I’m talking about.

          • Cam Lewis

            A player on an entry-level deal has the same meaning a as first- or second-year professional player in this case.

            The expansion draft happens in June, at the end of the season. Players who finished their first or second professional year are entry-level players. A player who finished playing their third professional year is no longer on their entry-level come expansion draft time, hence the verbiage I used.

            We’re saying the exact same thing here. This isn’t complicated.

          • IUsedToBleedOilBlueButIBledOut

            Except the expansion draft is actually at the end of the 20/21 year. Bouchard will have completed 2 years as a pro and will be entering his 3rd year as a pro for the 21/22 season which is when Seattle starts playing. Only players will LESS than 2 years pro experience don’t have to be protected……I have a bad feeling that Bouchard might have to be protected.

  • Ohlyr

    I sure hope we don’t lose Reinhart in the expansion draft, oh wait. Fast forward…we don’t lose Yamamoto,
    losing a player of that caliber would just cripple a team.

  • IPeeOil

    Nuge will NEVER make it to UFA. His next contract is a scary thought though. Long term and BIG money. It’ll match Leon’s at the very least, and he’s worth it ???

  • FanBoy

    Pretty good news for the Oil as Sekera is off the table by then, Lucic’s contract will be easier to trade, and Russell’s will be coming off the books the year after. On the downside, teams are less likely to make trades for aging vets these next 3 years so our roster could be stagnant which means we’ll need to rely on internal growth.

  • This is all we know by just before July 1, 2021…

    Exposed UFAs (if not traded before… yeah good luck with that):
    Lucic ($6m)
    Russell ($4m)
    Sekera ($5.5m)

    Protect (*sign to new contract):

  • BR

    So with the expansion – Could we do as some other teams did last time? Leave Nuge Unsigned for the draft, then sign him immediately after – Don’t have to protect him (but then i guess it’s risky to not have him locked in?)

    Bouchard being protected automatically is great, Lucic I assume we will have found a way to be rid of him by then?