With the Seattle NHL expansion coming in the 2021-22 season. The Vancouver Canucks Cup window could be shorter than originally thought. Rumoured to be the Kraken, Seattle’s team will enter the Pacific Division. Whilst the Arizona Coyotes are moved to the Central Division. This could be concerning for the teams in the Pacific Division.
Seattle NHL Expansion Draft’s Impact on the Vancouver Canucks Roster
The Kraken will reach out its tentacle and takes players from every team in the league – excluding the Vegas Golden Knights – during the Seattle NHL expansion draft in 2021. Seattle chooses fourteen forwards, nine defencemen, and three goaltenders. Clubs have two options. Option 1 is to protect seven forwards, three defencemen and a goaltender. Option 2 protects a total of eight skaters and a goaltender.
Teams should have learned their lesson after the success Vegas had during the 2017 Expansion Draft. Regardless of the protection option Vancouver chooses, they would expose one of their talented NHL goaltenders. Seattle is likely keen for either Jacob Markstrom or Thatcher Demko into one of their three goaltender positions. Assuming a deal is done with pending UFA Markstrom this season. It would hurt the Canucks to lose a quality goaltender, especially to a division rival.
Another Tough Division Rival
Nothing against Arizona here. But if the Seattle NHL expansion is as successful as the Vegas Golden Knights it will be a tough order to secure a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. The Golden Knights have had the Canucks number since entering the league. The teams have played 11 games against each other and Vegas has won nine of those. Arizona and Vancouver have a more balanced record with 32 wins to the Canucks and 31 wins to the Coyotes over 63 games. If Seattle gains a similar record against Vancouver as Vegas, it will be very tough to get through these teams in the playoffs if the Canucks can even get there in the first place.
Loss of Fan Base
After the Seattle NHL Expansion, Vancouver will have their closest geographical rival that may very well be nicknamed the Battle of the I-5. If Seattle wins a cup before Vancouver then fans of the Canucks that originate in Seattle may jump ship. Giving them not only bragging rights, but some of the Canucks revenue to go with it.
Cup Winning Window
With young talents such as Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. Some fans believe the rebuild in Vancouver is done and the team is ready to deep into the playoffs. Potentially lifting Lord Stanley in the next few years. But a lot of things need to go right along with some luck for a team to win the Stanley Cup.
With the Seattle NHL expansion, now 32 teams are fighting for the right to lift the cup. The West is referred to as the weaker conference, but with teams such as the Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers plus the addition of another potentially competitive team. It will make that push for the Stanley Cup finals all the greater feat. However, to win the toughest trophy in sports you need to beat the best.
To sum up, some may argue that the Seattle NHL expansion means the Canucks cup window closes after the next two years. But Vancouver has a bunch of young talent in the roster along with a strong prospect pool. If the Canucks can build around these kids and become a dominant force in the NHL once again. An additional team may have no effect on their cup hopes.
Vancouver also has depth in its goaltending core. Therefore if Seattle takes either Markstrom or Demko in the expansion draft. Then DiPietro can move up into a backup role behind the remaining goaltender. So as much as Canucks fans would hate to losing either of these players. Vancouver does have options in Utica to fill the void.
As seen in 2020, the future is very unpredictable. Therefore it will be a waiting game for the Seattle NHL expansion draft in 2021. Canucks fans will hope the team has already won the cup or is strong enough to be unfazed by the addition of Seattle in the pursuit of their first Stanley Cup.