The Seattle Kraken are halfway through their inaugural season, and general manager (GM) Ron Francis will be listening to trade offers until the March 21 trade deadline passes. The Kraken are in last place in the Pacific Division, and the GM will be looking to acquire draft picks or assets that will benefit the future of the franchise. According to a tweet from ESPN’s Linda Cohn, Francis is determining which players will be with the organization beyond this season and is listening to trade proposals for all players on the roster.
The New York Rangers have a need for depth at the wing positions and on defense. Adam Fox, the winner of the Norris Trophy last season, is currently on injured reserve (IR) with an upper-body injury. While he will not be out long-term, president/GM Chris Drury would be wise to acquire more depth by the deadline. Having depth is vital in case a key player, in this instance, the Rangers’ top defenseman, suffers an injury at an inopportune time, such as during a playoff series. Let’s take a look at three players from the Kraken the Rangers could target by the trading deadline.
The captain of the Kraken is in the last year of his contract, in which he has an average annual value (AAV) of $6.75 million. Mark Giordano would bring experience to a young Blueshirts defensive core that includes Fox, Ryan Lindgren, K’Andre Miller, Braden Schneider, Nils Lundkvist, Libor Hajek, and Zac Jones. Jacob Trouba and Patrik Nemeth have been the primary defensemen to play for the majority of games this season that are over the age of 23.
The 16-year-veteran spent 15 years playing with the Calgary Flames. The Flames did not have much playoff success during Giordano’s tenure with the franchise, as they only advanced past the first round once – back in the 2014-15 season. Given that he is 38 years old, the defenseman does not have too many more opportunities to make a run at the Stanley Cup. He has a modified no-trade clause (M-NTC) in his contract in which he can submit a list of 19 teams he would prefer to be traded to.
It’s expected Giordano would list several playoff contenders as his preferred destination. The Rangers have been within the top 3 teams in the Metropolitan Division standings for the majority of 2021-22. The Blueshirts, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, and Washington Capitals have separated themselves from the remaining four franchises in the Metro by a sizable amount of points. Whether the Rangers make the playoffs as one of the top three in the division or as one of the two wild-card teams in the Eastern Conference remains to be seen, but they look poised to head back to the postseason.
The Rangers have one of the top five youngest rosters in the NHL this season. Drury may look to add players who are headed toward free agency because he will not need to give up too much in return for them. This strategy would allow many of the Blueshirts’ young players to remain with the team beyond 2021-22. While Giordano has seen a drop in his offensive numbers the last two seasons, the veteran can still be valuable as a depth defenseman if he partnered with a young defenseman such as Schneider.
Giordano has a history of being a playmaker with the puck, given his high assist totals throughout his career. He could be used on the power play (PP), especially if he is filling in for an injured Rangers defenseman. Giordano’s seven power-play points (PPP) this season would rank sixth on the Rangers, and he would have the second most PPPs among defensemen behind Fox. Drury should keep a player like him in mind when thinking about what sort of players to acquire by the deadline for the Blueshirts.
The 31-year-old forward would fit in the Rangers’ bottom-six, as he has not produced as many points as he did earlier in his career with the Capitals. However, Marcus Johansson could be used on the top-six in case of an injury to a forward. Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol placed him on the top line due to Jaden Schwartz’s injury.
Johansson is a versatile player, as he can play center and both wing positions, which adds to his value as a player. He is due to make $1.5 million in 2021-22 before he is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) in the offseason. He has three goals and six assists in the last 11 games for the Kraken. He does have the ability to be a streaky performer, which can be to a team’s advantage, especially if the production is during the playoffs.
Given the season-ending knee injury to Brandon Tanev and with Schwartz out as well, players such as Johansson have been put in a position to have a bigger role offensively. The former 2009 first-round draft choice of the Capitals is a player who can play on any of the Rangers’ four lines, given the particular needs a team may have. His ability to adapt to any line combinations will make him a trade candidate for a playoff team.
The 27-year-old defenseman represents a blueliner who is the shutdown player the Rangers could use. Carson Soucy is listed as 6-foot-5 and 211 pounds and would be ideal on the third defensive pairing to increase their defensive depth. He is not known exclusively for his offense per se, but he will set a new career-high in points this season.
Soucy brings a bit of offense and physicality to his game, which would benefit the Rangers. He can be used on the penalty kill (PK), as he has with the Kraken and Minnesota Wild. He is in his fourth NHL season and has done well at expanding his game offensively in addition to being a physical presence against the opposition.
The native of Viking, Alberta, Canada, has an AAV of $2.75 million in 2021-22 and 2022-23 before he becomes a UFA. His affordability is another reason Drury should look into acquiring a player like Soucy by the trade deadline. He could be effective on special teams, and with whichever defenseman head coach Gerard Gallant decides to activate on the third defensive pairing.
The Kraken are one of the teams that Drury will be keeping an eye on in terms of which available players would fit the Rangers’ needs. They’ll be looking to acquire players that will help them finish off the season with momentum as they are in a position to advance to the postseason. The Kraken have a good mix of players that are veterans in the case of Giordano and Johansson and players in their primes such as Soucy.