Seattle Kraken officially become 32nd NHL team after final $650m payment

The Seattle Kraken are free to make trades and sign players after making their final expansion payment to the National Hockey League.

Seattle owners paid $650m (£470m) to become the NHL’s 32nd franchise. The Kraken begin play next season.

“On behalf of the Board of Governors, I am delighted to officially welcome the Seattle Kraken to the NHL as our 32nd member club,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said on Friday. “Congratulations to David Bonderman, the Bonderman family, their partners, the entire Seattle Kraken organization, the city of Seattle and Kraken fans as the club continues on its exciting journey towards puck drop in October.”

General manager Ron Francis has been able to talk to colleagues around the league, and he and his staff have been scouting and planning for the expansion draft 21 July. The final payment by ownership allows him to make official transactions, such as signing college free agents.

“Today is another momentous day on the journey to puck drop,” Bonderman said. “We have an incredible few months ahead of us.”

The Seattle club first unveiled its nickname in July, ending 19 months of speculation about whether the team might lean traditional or go eccentric with the name for the leagues 32nd team.

In opting for the sea creature of Scandinavian folklore, Seattle bypassed options like Sockeyes, Evergreens or Metropolitans, the last of which would have been a nod to Seattles hockey history. There was even a push from some fans for the team to try to acquire the Thunderbirds name from the local junior team.

But Kraken was a clear favorite among fans, who rallied around the name soon after the expansion franchise was awarded in December 2018. The enthusiasm has grown since as the team built toward its debut for the 2021-22 season.

Nic Corbett, the director of NHL relations with Adidas, said the primary logo is a Kraken tentacle shaped into an S and is a nod to the Seattle Metropolitans logo.

The Metropolitans, who played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1915 to 1924, became the first American team to win the Stanley Cup in 1917.

The Kraken become the NHL’s first new team since the Vegas Golden Knights, who enjoyed improbably immediate success upon their entry to the league four years ago by reaching the Stanley Cup final in their maiden season.