While the Seattle expansion team will not take the ice for another 20 months, it is never too early to start planning ahead. Initially, the team was expected to pursue the franchise’s first head coach between January and June of 2021. However, the 2019-20 season has forced a number of major names onto the open market and now TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the hiring timeline has moved up. With the likes of Peter Laviolette, Bruce Boudreau, Mike Babcock, and perhaps most notably Gerard Gallant, the man who guided the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, among the available coaches right now, LeBrun believes that the team is likely to make a decision at head coach this summer. While the move would come with more than a year to spare, the team is unlikely to have this same selection if they wait too much longer, especially with the Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils among teams who will be looking for a replacement this summer. LeBrun notes that GM Ron Francis has cleared it with ownership to get out in front of the rush and hire a head coach sooner rather than later.
- While the ownership group and front office is already hard at work preparing to build their team, hard work is also being put in at building the actual facilities that the Seattle team will use. With the arena still under construction, Seattle President and CEO Tod Lewieke announced that they also broke ground today on the team’s practice facility. Located just a few miles from the arena and at Seattle Center, the practice facility will house three rinks – the only other rinks inside of Seattle city limits. The 180,000-square foot facility will also have seating for spectators and will be open to other hockey events.
- While the 2021 NHL Expansion draft is more than a year away, the passing of the NHL Trade Deadline does provide some clarity when looking ahead to possible protection schemes for each team. While the off-season free agent and trade markets will surely shift a number of rosters yet again, it is fair to assume that many teams will have a similar composition at this time next year as they do now. Of course, in a year’s time, the passing of the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline will essentially cement rosters ahead of the expansion draft.