Sign players? It started this week with the arrival of 21-year-old Luke Henman. Trade-ins and some of those side deals Vegas broke in the last NHL expansion draft? Absolutely.
But aside from wondering when the opening date will be for its training facility and new arena, and who Seattle might welcome into the expansion plan, there’s a major question still hanging over Francis.
Who will be the coach?
“As we get closer to the second quarter of this year, we should be pretty determined in what we want to do,” Francis said this week.
The setting for the Kraken’s first season will take shape over the next two months as the NHL moves through the Stanley Cup playoffs and draws closer to the expansion draft on July 21, when most of the roster of Seattle will be established.
Meanwhile, Francis is methodical in choosing a coach, even though rumors are circulating about potential candidates.
All Francis offered was “second trimester,” which probably means June. It’s just in time for the new boss to get to grips with the franchise ahead of the expansion plan.
But waiting also gives Francis time to examine the fallout from the NHL season and most of the playoffs to see if any unlikely candidates suddenly become available.
Francis noted last month that he kept a spreadsheet of names.
“You look at the guys who are currently unemployed, you look at the guys who are currently working and maybe have expiring contracts, you look at other situations that maybe looking for a change,” Francis said in April. “You won’t really know all of this for the next month or two. “
Most speculation has centered on Gerard Gallant since he was sacked by Vegas midway through the 2019-20 season. His experience with the Golden Knights throughout their expansion season in 2017-18 and leading them to the Stanley Cup Finals made him an obvious candidate as he went long without another gig in the NHL.
There could be a complication with it, however. Gallant will be Canada’s head coach at the IIHF World Championships which begin this month in Latvia.
There are plenty of other names floating around, like Bruce Boudreau, Claude Julien, Todd Nelson and John Stevens.
There is also the possibility that a current coach will leave his squad in the coming weeks and offer an option for Seattle.
In that vein, Rod Brind’Amour in Carolina has long been the subject of rumors due to his history with Francis, although he appears to be close to a contract extension with the Hurricanes. Travis Green in Vancouver is another name that comes up regularly as his time with the Canucks comes to an end.
John Tortorella, Rick Tocchet and David Quinn also became available recently.
Whoever ends up getting the job will be in a hurry to prepare for the start of the 2021-22 season, which is set to begin in mid-October. Between the establishment of a staff, the expansion draft, free agency and training camp, it will be two and a half months before the start of the game.
“We are patient. We think we are ready, ”said Francis. “When we get to that zero point and talk to the people we want to talk to, we’ll make that decision. “