The Vancouver Canucks are apparently the official welcoming committee for new NHL franchises.
Four years ago, the Canucks welcomed the Vegas Golden Knights to the NHL with their very first preseason game on September 17, 2017. It was a 9-4 blowout by the Golden Knights — the first indication that maybe the Golden Knights weren’t going to be the pushover expansion franchise that some expected.
Four years later, the Canucks will be doing the same for the newest team in the NHL, the Seattle Kraken, though they might hope for a better result.
The Canucks and Kraken will be kicking off the 2021 preseason on September 26 in Spokane, WA. They will also end their preseason with a game against the Canucks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on October 5.
It will be the first chance to see the Kraken in action with their teal and navy jerseys. The Kraken currently have just one player — undrafted free agent signing Luke Henman out of the QMJHL. As a young prospect hoping to make the team, Henman is likely to be on the ice for the team’s first preseason game.
As for who will be joining Henman, that has yet to be decided. The Kraken will be selecting players from 30 of the 31 other teams in the NHL at the expansion draft on July 21, then picking second overall at the NHL Entry Draft on July 23.
The odds are good that the Kraken’s first regular season game will also be against the Canucks, as the NHL tries to ignite the geographical rivalry between the two teams.
The Kraken will be playing their preseason home games at the homes of three of four of Washington’s WHL teams: Spokane, home of the Spokane Chiefs, Everett, home of the Everett Silvertips, and Kent, home of the Seattle Thunderbirds. It’s a solid strategy for engaging with hockey fans in the state, though fans of the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, WA might be a little put out that they weren’t included in the Kraken’s preseason tour.
For Canucks fans, the 2021 preseason games will likely be the first chance to attend a Canucks game in-person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The border between the U.S. and Canada remains closed for now, with both countries extending travel restrictions until at least July 21, so it’s unclear yet if Canucks fans will be able to travel to Spokane, Everett, or Kent to see any of the preseason games in Washington. The preseason games in B.C., however, could be open to fans, as B.C. loosens restrictions for gatherings.
The Canucks have yet to release their full preseason schedule, so all that is known is the two games against the Kraken.