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Seattle awarded National Hockey League’s 32nd franchise

Frank Curto

The NHL Board of Governors unanimously awarded Seattle the leagues 32nd Franchise in a vote on Tuesday afternoon.

Frank Curto

The National Hockey League will have its 32nd Franchise come the 2021 season in a unanimous vote by the NHL’s Board of Governors during a meeting today in Sea Island, Ga. The team will play its home games at the Seattle Center Arena, which is currently under renovations in preparations for its new team.

The Seattle based team will pay a $600 million expansion fee. The fee will be divided evenly between 30 NHL clubs. The Vegas Golden Knights are the only team not involved in the split of the fee. They were awarded their team in the 2017 season and paid a fee of $500 million.

Commissioner Gary Bettman expressed excitement over the news.

“Today is an exciting and historic day for our League as we expand to one of North America’s most innovative, beautiful and fastest-growing cities,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We are delighted to add David Bonderman, Tod Leiweke and the entire NHL Seattle group to the National Hockey League family. And we are thrilled that Seattle, a city with a proud hockey history that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup, is finally joining the NHL.”

The league’s new conference alignment will place Seattle in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. The Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Divison of the Western Conference beginning in the 2021-2022 season.

Photo courtesy of NHL Public Relations

Expansion Draft Rules

Seattle will follow the same expansion draft rules as the Vegas Golden Knights did in 2017.

The Vegas golden Knight will not have to submit an unprotect list and are exempt from the NHL Expansion Draft which will be held prior to the NHL Draft in June 2021.

  •  The Seattle franchise must select one player from each current existing club for a total of 30 players.
  •  The Seattle franchise must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
  • The Seattle franchise must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2021‑22 season.
  • The Seattle franchise may not buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.
(Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Protected Lists

NHL Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:

  1. Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or:
  2. Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender
  • All players who have a “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).
  • Players with No Trade Clause do not have to be protected.
  • All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).


The player exposure requirements are a little more complicated but are broken down to the following:

One defenseman who is under contract in 2021-22 and played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

Two forwards who are under contract in 2021-22 and played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

One goaltender who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

The Seattle franchise now has plenty of work ahead of them. They have to name a general manager, head coach, set up a minor league system and complete the renovation of their arena.

The team is conducting focus groups to help them determine the team name and logo for the team which will be announced at a later date.

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