Seattle Kraken players with most to gain after flurry of trades
The Seattle Kraken are undefeated since Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline where they made six deals and reshaped their roster by trading out players on expiring contracts. Undefeated yes, but it was only one game, and it was against the Arizona Coyotes.
In the Kraken’s defense, they had lost twice to the hapless Coyotes already this season, with all their regular players, so Tuesday’s 4-2 win was somewhat notable.
More notable than the result was the younger Kraken who were given a bigger role and more playing time. With 18 games left in the season, everyone is being evaluated
“It’s gonna be a challenging situation for some players, so there’s real good opportunity there,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said prior to the Arizona game. “No question, we’re going to learn more about what contributions certain individuals can make on this team.”
After the trade deadline dust cleared, Seattle is left with seven players who are going to be restricted free agents at the end of the season. The Kraken will have to decide on whether they want to extend qualifying offers to these players and retain them next year.
So, this is a golden opportunity for them to show their worth, gain more ice time, and develop their games. With that in mind, here is a look at the players who have the most to gain with the post-trade deadline stretch run.
• Morgan Geekie, forward
Geekie has played regularly this season, but he’s been up and down the lineup and hasn’t been given a chance to gel with one line, play consistently, and show what this tremendous skill can accomplish.
He’s set career highs in goals and points so far, but you can’t help feeling there’s more to give. He’s still young and that shows in some inconsistency but that could settle with a higher role. Geekie may get that role now and one game in has had great results.
Against Arizona, he played with Kole Lind and Jared McCann and the trio was Seattle’s best line. They owned the puck, pushed the play, and scored an important insurance goal in the third period. Geekie ended the night with a goal and an assist and has earned more time playing higher up the lineup.
• Daniel Sprong, forward
Sprong flew to Phoenix from Washington D.C. Monday after being traded to the Kraken for Marcus Johansson. He told us he had a heavy shot and indeed, that was on display against the Coyotes when he scored an impressive goal.
With the Capitals, he was relegated to playing mostly on a fourth line but still managed eight goals. He has nine now and while it’s unlikely he’ll score a goal per game; his Kraken debut was encouraging. Sprong was a big-time scorer in junior hockey but has yet to get the playing time to do so at the NHL level.
Expect him to play a lot of minutes over the final 18 games and show the Kraken that he would be worth bringing back as a depth scorer next season.
• Karson Kuhlman, forward
Kuhlman was claimed off waivers by the Kraken from the Boston Bruins and then was almost immediately placed on IR with an upper-body injury in a game against the New York Rangers. He returned to the lineup on March 19 and while he hasn’t scored in the two games since. he looks like he’s been shot out of a cannon.
The Kraken sent out Colin Blackwell in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs which means they lost a high-energy player who created havoc and had gelled with Yanni Gourde. Kuhlman has a similar skillset and played with Gourde against the Coyotes. Early on the line has gelled and Kuhlman created scoring chances with his speed. If he keeps that up, he just may end up a Kraken next season.
• Kole Lind, forward
The 23-year-old Lind has been up with the Kraken on a couple of occasions during the season but should be in Seattle to stay at this point. He’s got talent and skill but just hasn’t had a chance to show it. Injuries limited him to seven games with Vancouver last season, but the potential is there.
Playing mostly in the American Hockey League with Charlotte this year he potted 17 goals, 18 assists, and 35 points in 46 games. He’s looked good in his brief stint with the Kraken, including an assist on the insurance goal against the Coyotes.
He’ll get a long look the rest of the season.
• Hadyn Fleury, defense
Fleury’s season has been a head-scratcher. In fact, ‘scratch’ is the keyword as the 25-year-old defenseman has been a regular healthy scratch this season. With defensemen Mark Giordano and Jeremy Lauzon moved at the Deadline, Fleury should be back to playing as a regular for the remainder of the season.
He played in the game against Arizona but was hurt sometime during the second period, didn’t play the third period, and his status remains unknown as the Kraken head to Los Angeles this weekend.