Kraken make waves by adding a top name in NHL free agency

Jul 1, 2024, 10:00 AM | Updated: 11:28 am

Seattle Kraken Montour Brandon free agency Yanni Gourde...

Brandon Montour of the Florida Panthers takes Yanni Gourde of the Seattle Kraken to the ice in 2022. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

(Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

The Seattle Kraken are making a splash in free agency, adding top defenseman Brandon Montour on Monday morning.

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The 30-year-old Montour and Seattle have agreed on a seven-year deal worth $50 million, with the contract carrying an average annual salary cap hit of $7.14 million.

Seattle soon followed up with the addition of forward Chandler Stephenson on another seven-year deal.

Montour, who was a second-round NHL Draft pick by Anaheim in 2014, has played eight seasons in the league split between the Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers, the latter or which he just helped win the Stanley Cup. He is considered one of the top free agents this offseason.

“Brandon is a proven winner, and we are thrilled to have him joining our organization,” Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis said in a press release. “We’re looking forward to him making his Kraken debut in front of the best fans in the NHL.”

The 6-foot, 199-pound Montour has been one of the highest-scoring defensemen in recent seasons, tying for fifth among players at the position in 2022-23 with 73 points. He had 33 points including eight goals in 66 games this past season, as well as three goals and 11 points in 24 postseason games during the Panthers’ title run.

Mountour averaged 23:27 minutes on the ice per game in 2023-24, which led Florida, was 25 second more on average than the Kraken’s leader, and ranked 26th in the NHL.

The Seattle Kraken add Montour at a critical point for the young franchise. After reaching the playoffs in 2022-23, their second season in the NHL, the Kraken went backwards and finished 34-35-13 for 81 points in the standings, tying them for sixth in the Pacific Division. After falling short of the playoffs, Seattle fired head coach Dave Hakstol and promoted Dan Bylsma, who was at the helm of the team’s AHL affiliate at Coachella Valley, to the position.

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The Kraken could be in a race to establish a foothold in Seattle’s sports market with the city rumored to be a favorite for NBA expansion that is expected to be announced after the league’s new TV deal is settled.

“I mean, I’ve heard all the rumors that the Sonics might be coming back, and I think the the Kraken want to make sure they’re in a really good place for when or if the Sonics do arrive,” Friedman told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk in May.

One step the Kraken have taken is a move to televise their games locally on KING 5 and KONG, both of which are free over-the-air channels. Improving the roster in order to make a run at returning to the playoffs no doubt is a priority, as well.

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Kraken make waves by adding a top name in NHL free agency