Why Seattle Kraken could be in position for another big offseason trade

Jun 1, 2023, 3:25 PM

Seattle Kraken Oliver Bjorkstrand...

Oliver Bjorkstrand celebrates after scoring for the Kraken in a playoff game against Dallas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Just a day after it was announced that Ron Francis had agreed to an extension with the Seattle Kraken that will keep him as the team’s general manager through the 2026-27 season, he was talking about the potential moves he could make next.

Seattle Kraken sign GM Ron Francis to three-year extension

Francis joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Thursday morning, and with the Kraken fresh off their first postseason appearance – which included a first-round series win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche – the conversation turned to how Francis’ team can go from good to great.

To be more specific, host Mike Salk asked Francis if Seattle needs to add a star player to make that leap.

“Yeah, I mean, you always like to add those guys if you can. They’re not always readily available,” Francis said.

If one does become available through the trade market this offseason, though, the Kraken are in a good spot just like they were a year ago. And there’s a very likely scenario that would help the Kraken in that regard.

It has to do with the salary cap, which Eric Engel of Sportsnet in Canada reported in March that the league’s general managers expect to increase by just $1 million to $83.5 million for the 2023-24 season. That would be good news for Francis and the Seattle Kraken, as the GM explained.

“I think a lot of people waiting to see what the final decision is on the cap number,” Francis said. “Does it only go up $1 million? Does it go up more than that? And certainly, where we are sitting in the cap space that we have moving forward here next year, we’re certainly hoping that it’s only going to go up $1 million and that would put some teams in maybe a little tougher spot and maybe have to move pieces.”

Francis said that’s very similar to how the Kraken were able to make a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets last offseason to acquire star forward Oliver Bjorkstrand.

“So we’re always watching that and hoping that might be the case, but time will tell over the next month.”

Salk: Seattle Kraken should look to Toronto Maple Leafs for offseason upgrades

Prior to the Kraken’s expansion draft in the summer of 2021, much was made about how the NHL’s previous expansion franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, used trades around their own draft to build a squad that reached the Stanley Cup Finals in its first season of existence. Teams seemed very reticent to repeat the same mistake when it was the Kraken’s turn, but while Seattle’s inaugural season was a struggle, Francis was able to sell off pieces for draft picks that he could use for trade capital. He used a lot of it in the last year, but plenty still remains, as does over $20 million in cap space based on the 2022-23 number, per Spotrac.

Francis provided insight into his team’s philosophy for building its roster based on all of those factors.

“When you go back to the expansion (draft), teams get to protect their best seven forwards and their best three defensemen. So usually those superstars are in that group that they’re protecting and the only way to really get those guys is to draft and develop,” he said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do on the amateur side in our drafts. It takes a little while for these kids to sort of mature and get to the point where they can step into the NHL and play. Not everybody’s a Matty Beniers who can kind of do that early, but we think we’ve got some good pieces coming in that regard. But if there are moves that are out there that we feel make us better, we’re certainly not going to hesitate to do that, whether that’s trades or free agency or what have you here over the course of the summer.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Francis in the podcast below.

More on the Seattle Kraken

Head coach Dave Hakstol shares insight into Gourde, Burakovsky, Wright
Hakstol on the Kraken’s growth in Year 2, what comes next
Jon Morosi: ‘The big question’ with the Kraken focuses on Shane Wright
How Seattle Kraken are primed to build off playoff run in a major way
Salk: Five things the Seattle Kraken accomplished in impressive Year 2

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