Breaking down Seattle Kraken after 6 deals at NHL trade deadline
Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis did his best impression this weekend of the late-night television huckster, hair askew, frantically yelling that “Everything must go.” That is probably an over-the-top dramatization, but the Kraken were super active at the NHL trade deadline.
Kraken deal Giordano on day of multiple trades | Kraken trade Johansson to Caps
The Kraken swung six deals that sent six players off the roster and brought back two along with a load of picks for the next two NHL Drafts. One of the trades was rather minor – Seattle received Victor Rask, who is expected to report to the AHL Charlotte Checkers, from the Minnesota Wild for future considerations in a deal announced late Monday afternoon.
Francis did well this weekend and brought in a haul of picks. Teams normally have one pick in each of the seven rounds of the Draft, but after his deals before Monday’s noon deadline, Francis now has 12 picks in 2022 – six of which are in the first three rounds—and 13 for 2023.
“Sitting here, I’m not saying I’m going to draft all 25 players,” Francis said Monday of the picks. “I’m hoping we don’t, but what it does is it gives us some draft capital and we can go into the markets over time. If teams need to move players, we have those picks that we can trade for players. We do have the (salary) cap space, we do have the money, we still plan on being active in free agency if we can be and those are things to help us kind of turn things around.”
Second-round picks are not guaranteed to turn into useful NHL players and are usually several years away from contributing. The plans Francis laid out was for a quicker turnaround, as he could use those picks acquired to help bring in players via trades as soon as this offseason. He’s interested in a more immediate fix. That might mean draft-day deals or adding a pick in a trade for a player that some team may be struggling to keep due to cap issues.
One thing that Francis was not able to do was to secure a first-round pick in return for any of the players he dealt, most of whom were on expiring contracts.
“I’m looking for a first-round pick, as is everybody,” Francis said. “It’s interesting in each different thing and kind of how the market plays out. You try to guess and read other GMs and what they’re willing to do, what they’re not willing to do. And at the end of the day, you make the deal you think is the best one you can make. And there’s obviously a risk that you don’t make any deal and you have the players with you past the deadline.”
The Kraken, who are tied for last place in the Western Conference with 44 points in the standings (19-38-6), are going to look different for the last 19 games of the season. They’ll still have their core but will lean on younger players like Kole Lind, who was called up from the AHL, as well as Karson Kuhlman and the newly acquired Daniel Sprong.
It may not look pretty at times, but the players are still motivated to pick up wins and build momentum towards next season.
“We don’t really have anything to fall back on,” Jordan Eberle said after practice Monday. “We haven’t had winning seasons in the past, guys haven’t been part of it here to where they’ve been on winning teams. You need to create that so you have something to fall back on to understand how you needed to play to win games in the past. It’s not just one win, either; it’s stringing, consistently, games together, and not just getting wins but consistently playing a way to give yourself a chance to win every day. And that’s what we need to find here.”
Francis has set himself up with these trades to add skill to the roster, and now the challenge is going out and doing it. Here is a look at the trades the Kraken made this week.
The six Seattle Kraken trades
• Seattle Kraken send forward Calle Jarnkrok to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick (originally Florida’s), a 2023 third-round pick, and a 2024 seventh-round pick. Seattle retains $1 million of salary.
A player on an expiring contract, it wasn’t shocking that Jarnkrok was sought after, and he might have been the most sought after of all the Kraken players. Francis netted three picks out of him, which is a positive for sure. Jarnkrok started the season slow due to COVID issues and an early injury. He caught fire in December and turned into one of Seattle’s best offensive options.
The Kraken retain half of his salary but will be clearing roughly $2 million of the salary cap for this summer.
• Seattle Kraken send defenseman Mark Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick, a 2023 second-round pick, and a 2024 third-round pick. Seattle retains $3.375 million of Giordano’s contract.
This trade was the biggest for the Kraken and the returns were decent. There were reports that Francis wanted a first-round pick for Giordano but that was not realistic, so getting a couple of second-rounders is not bad.
There were other defensemen, like Ben Chiarot, who did garner a first-rounder in a deal, but that doesn’t mean that anyone else was willing to spend that much on an older Giordano. Seattle’s captain was good but not great on the ice this year and he was not in the Kraken’s long term plans.
Blackwell was a fun player to watch with a ton of quickness and energy, and he had started to gain chemistry on a line with Yanni Gourde and Mason Appleton. For Seattle, he played up the lineup but on a much more talented Toronto club he’ll be a bottom six forward and give the Maple Leafs depth.
The Kraken retained half of Giordano’s salary in this deal, which won’t hinder what they want to do in free agency this summer. And when he comes off the books, it will give the team another $6.750 million to play with.
• Seattle Kraken send defenseman Jeremy Lauzon to the Nashville Predators for a 2022 second-round pick.
Getting a second-round pick for a young defenseman like Lauzon is as close to a coup as Francis could claim at the deadline. Lauzon was trusted by coach Dave Hakstol and the Kraken and routinely played over Will Borgen and Haydn Fleury. He has upside but needs to eliminate tendencies for committing bad turnovers and penalties.
Lauzon was set to be a restricted free agent after this season meaning the Kraken held all the cards. It was assumed he’d he would be back but the return from the Predators was too much to pass up, and Seattle does have depth on the blueline.
• Seattle Kraken send forward Mason Appleton to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2023 fourth-round pick.
Appleton was not a name that was necessarily on the trade radar, but Francis moved him Sunday night. The Kraken selected Appleton at the NHL Expansion Draft from the Jets so he’ll be familiar with his surroundings. Appleton is a decent third or fourth liner who until the last month of play didn’t seem to have a role in Seattle. A fourth-round pick seems like a decent return for a guy that doesn’t figure to ever move up into a consistent top six spot.
• Seattle Kraken send forward Marcus Johansson to the Washington Capitals for forward Daniel Sprong, a 2022 fourth-round pick and a 2023 sixth-round pick. Seattle retains $750 million of Johansson’s salary.
This was the first deal that brought back a player along with picks. Johansson was a late summer free-agent signing by Seattle and was set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He provided veteran leadership and helped with the Kraken power play, but it was unlikely he would be back for the Kraken.
Sprong is a 25-year-old forward who on the surface fits in with what the Kraken are now. Mostly playing on the Capitals’ fourth line, he has managed eight goals and has positive underlying possession numbers. Sprong is in the last year of a $725, 000 contract and will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. He would not be considered a prospect but could provide affordable depth to the lineup if he impresses over the final 20 games.
More from Andy Eide: Ryan Donato makes his case to be part of the Kraken core