The Seattle Kraken have hired Dave Hakstol as their first head coach in franchise history, the team announced on Thursday. The NHL expansion team is set to begin play in 2021-22 following the expansion draft this summer. Hakstol will help lead the new Western Conference team into its first season in the NHL. The expansion draft will be held on July 21 while the Kraken will pick No. 2 overall in the 2021 NHL Draft.
Hakstol was a prominent college hockey coach before being hired by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015. He spent four seasons in Philly, making the Stanley Cup Playoffs twice, losing in the first round in 2016 and 2018. Hakstol has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Prior to entering the NHL ranks, Hakstol was the head coach of NCAA powerhouse the University of North Dakota. As a head coach with the Flyers, Hakstol had a 134-101-42 record.
While Hakstol doesn’t have the type of experience you’d want for an NHL head coach, he does have experience developing young talent. He’s also spent the past two seasons around players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander in Toronto. We saw the Vegas Golden Knights bring in Gerard Gallant as head coach for Year 1 after an expansion draft and Vegas made the Stanley Cup Final. Seattle likely won’t have the same type of success given how the expansion draft has changed and how teams will be more prepared.