- The expansion Seattle Kraken will begin play with the 2021-2022 season.
- They’ll play the NHL’s previous most recent expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights, in their opening game.
- Most NHL futures odds give the Kraken a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup than many established teams.
In theory, there shouldn’t be too much pressure involved with being an expansion team in a professional sports league. Everything–the organization, coaching staff and in some cases the arena itself–is being built from scratch. Players are obtained via an expansion draft and are often castoffs from other teams. These players, combined with amateur draftees and free agents comprise the opening roster. Historically, the benchmark for success by expansion teams in every professional sport has been extremely low.
The Vegas Golden Knights came into the NHL in 2017 and pretty much ‘flipped the script’ when it came to what an expansion team could accomplish. They finished the regular season atop the Pacific Division with a record of 51-24-7. They played before a packed house of extremely enthusiastic fans at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Most significantly, they shocked the world in the playoffs by reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. Although they would lose in six games to the Washington Capitals just making the playoffs–let alone advancing to play for the Stanley Cup–was considered outside of the realm of possibility just nine months earlier.
One result of the Golden Knights’ first year success is that the benchmark expectations for expansion teams have gone through the roof. The first team to experience this dynamic will be the NHL’s latest team, the Seattle Kraken. From a reasonable perspective, no one expects the Kraken to reach the Stanley Cup finals this year and they’ll be a longshot to even make the playoffs. Even so, the Golden Knights’ success in their debut season now informs the Kraken fanbase that no matter how remote, the possibility to reprise their first year performance is still there.
The Kraken began to stock their roster via the expansion draft on Wednesday night and by most accounts pulled together the foundation of a viable team. It’s one thing for NHL analysts to say that the Kraken did a good job but another thing entirely for someone to ‘put their money where their mouth is’. That has also started to occur as the Seattle team’s NHL futures betting odds to win the Stanley Cup have dropped significantly since the expansion draft was completed.
Before the expansion draft, the Kraken were lumped together with the other doormats of the NHL and given a negligible chance to win the Stanley Cup. On July 6, we reported on the opening NHL futures odds market at BetOnline.ag and the Kraken were right at the bottom with six other teams:
2021-2022 STANLEY CUP CHAMPION (ODDS FROM BETONLINE.AG AS OF JULY 6, 2021)
(bottom six teams)
Anaheim Ducks +10000
Buffalo Sabres +10000
Columbus Blue Jackets +10000
Detroit Red Wings +10000
New Jersey Devils +10000
Seattle Kraken +10000
Since the expansion draft, the Kraken’s price has plummeted. While the specific price varies from one sportsbook to another here are a few examples starting with BetOnline.ag. The Kraken are one of four teams priced at +2500 putting them ahead of 19 established franchises:
2021-2022 STANLEY CUP CHAMPION (ODDS FROM BETONLINE.AG AS OF JULY 22, 2021)
Edmonton Oilers +2500 Montreal Canadiens +2500 Pittsburgh Penguins +2500 Seattle Kraken +2500 St. Louis Blues +2800 Washington Capitals +2800 Dallas Stars +3300 Philadelphia Flyers +3300 Nashville Predators +4000 Winnipeg Jets +4000 Calgary Flames +5000 Chicago Blackhawks +5000 Vancouver Canucks +5000 Los Angeles Kings +6600 Arizona Coyotes +7500 Ottawa Senators +8000 San Jose Sharks +8000 Anaheim Ducks +10000 Buffalo Sabres +10000 Columbus Blue Jackets +10000 Detroit Red Wings +10000 New Jersey Devils +10000
Similar markets can be found at other sportsbooks such as Pointsbet Colorado where the Kraken are one of four teams at +4000 ahead of 12 established teams:
2021-2022 STANLEY CUP CHAMPION (ODDS FROM POINTSBET COLORADO AS OF JULY 22, 2021)
Calgary Flames +4000 Winnipeg Jets +4000 St. Louis Blues +4000 Seattle Kraken +4000 Nashville Predators +5000 Los Angeles Kings +6000 Vancouver Canucks +6600 Chicago Blackhawks +8000 San Jose Sharks +9000 New Jersey Devils +10000 Arizona Coyotes +10000 Ottawa Senators +10000 Columbus Blue Jackets +10000 Anaheim Ducks +10000 Detroit Red Wings +20000 Buffalo Sabres +20000
From Betfred Sports in Colorado, where Seattle is one of four teams at +5000 ahead of 11 established franchises:
2021-2022 STANLEY CUP CHAMPION (ODDS FROM BETFRED SPORTS COLORADO AS OF JULY 22, 2021)
Calgary Flames +5000 Dallas Stars +5000 Nashville Predators +5000 Seattle Kraken +5000 Vancouver Canucks +6600 Los Angeles Kings +7000 Chicago Blackhawks +8000 San Jose Sharks +8000 Anaheim Ducks +10000 Columbus Blue Jackets +10000 New Jersey Devils +10000 Ottawa Senators +10000 Arizona Coyotes +10000 Detroit Red Wings +15000 Buffalo Sabres +20000
Other sportsbooks have seen less of a bounce such as Elite Sportsbook in Iowa/Colorado. There the Kraken are at +7500 along with the Anaheim Ducks ahead of only 6 teams:
2021-2022 STANLEY CUP CHAMPION (ODDS FROM ELITE SPORTSBOOK AS OF JULY 22, 2021)
Anaheim Ducks +7500 Seattle Kraken +7500 Columbus Blue Jackets +10000 Arizona Coyotes +12500 New Jersey Devils +12500 Ottawa Senators +12500 Detroit Red Wings +20000 Buffalo Sabres +25000
This demonstrates that futures prices can vary widely from one sportsbook to another, which is why you want to shop around. As far as the Kraken, there are likely some bettors wanting to take a flyer on the expansion teams based on what happened with Vegas in 2017-2018. There are also obviously some sportsbooks who are going to make certain that they aren’t facing a potential 7 or 8 figure liability like they were during the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals.