Botterill hired as Kraken assistant general manager

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Jason Botterill was hired as an assistant general manager by the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday.

The 44-year-old was GM of the Buffalo Sabres for three seasons (2017-20) before being fired June 16, 2020. He will work with assistant Ricky Olczyk under Kraken GM Ron Francis.

Seattle will play its inaugural NHL season in 2021-22. The NHL Expansion Draft is scheduled for July 21.

“It’s just the excitement of building a team from the ground up,” Botterill said. “It’s so infrequent when expansion teams come along, so when you have that opportunity, you jump at it.”

Botterill, a former NHL forward, worked for the Pittsburgh Penguins for 10 seasons as director of hockey administration, assistant GM and associate GM under Ray Shero and Jim Rutherford, helping build three Stanley Cup championship teams (2009, 2016, 2017).

He said his focus now is scouting players and helping the Kraken prepare for the expansion draft.

“It’s going to be a collaborative process with everything,” Botterill said. “Obviously, I have the experience in contract negotiations and [NHL] salary cap things I certainly will communicate with Ricky on. But you look at the near future, obviously the biggest thing is focusing in on the expansion draft here, getting out and evaluating players. It was big news, I thought, the other day that the American Hockey League is going to try to get going here (Feb. 5) and to be able to get those viewings at both the NHL level and the American Hockey League level, I think that’s going to be obviously the main focus here over the next few months.”

Botterill said he’ll rely on some of the experiences he had with the Sabres. Buffalo missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs all three seasons he was GM, but he oversaw drafts when the Sabres selected defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in the third round (No. 54) of the 2017 NHL Draft and forward Dylan Cozens (No. 7) and defenseman Ryan Johnson (No. 31) in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft.

“My experiences in Buffalo were very different than my experiences in Pittsburgh,” Botterill said. “But I think that will certainly make me a stronger manager moving forward here, and having the situation of evaluating young talent, drafting players in the top 10 or drafting a player at No. 1 overall that we did in Buffalo, those are situations that I didn’t encounter in Pittsburgh, and to me certainly there’s things I learn from that experience moving forward here now.”

Francis and Botterill developed a relationship while they were co-general managers with Ron Hextall for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championship. Francis told SiriusXM NHL Network Radio on Tuesday that he and Botterill hit it off at the time and stayed in touch.

“He’d worked under Ray Shero in Pittsburgh, he worked alongside (current Philadelphia Flyers GM) Chuck Fletcher there early in his career, worked under Jim Rutherford, and sat in the chair himself,” Francis said. “So a lot of experience and hardworking guy, and we’re excited to have him on board.”

Botterill said working with Francis left a lasting impression.

“The relationship that I built with Ron at the World Championships, you go through a process like that, how easy the communication was, you just keep in the back of your mind, if an opportunity arises in the future, you certainly would like to work with people like that,” Botterill said.

Norm Maciver, who played 12 NHL seasons as a defenseman for the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Penguins, Winnipeg Jets and Phoenix Coyotes, was named director of player personnel. The 56-year-old worked for the Chicago Blackhawks for 14 seasons, most recently as assistant GM, and they won the Stanley Cup three times in that span (2010, 2013, 2015).

“I am excited about the prospect of building something from the ground up,” Maciver said. “I’m so glad to be able to help meet the challenge of building a team in an ever-evolving league.”

Maciver and Francis were teammates with the Whalers and Penguins.

“Norm was involved in Chicago’s recent Cup-winning teams and brings a lot of experience and knowledge,” Francis said. “I know him from our playing days and am pleased to reunite with him. He will do a fantastic job as we build out our team.”

NHL.com columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika contributed to this report

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