There has been so much focus lately on the expansion draft that not many are paying attention to the potential moves the Seattle Kraken could make in free agency. Seattle has a great opportunity because of the flat salary cap this offseason. There are plenty of quality free agents that they should consider this offseason that could help them be competitive in their inaugural season. Here are 5 players they should consider signing through free agency this season.
David Savard may not be a name that jumps off the page for some, but the stay-at-home defenseman could be a valuable asset to the Kraken. He’ll be available this offseason due to salary constraints on the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 10-year NHL veteran spent his entire career with Columbus before they traded him to Tampa Bay at the deadline this season. With the Lightning looking like a favorite to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, Savard could bring experience to the Kraken after this season’s projected playoff run.
Savard is making an impact early on in Tampa Bay. He is averaging 21:33 of ice time per game and is building a great partnership with Ryan McDonagh as a shutdown pair that can match against any top line in the league. He has a career-best 50.3% Corsi percentage since joining the Lightning and is setting himself up for a big payday this offseason. He will be 31 when next season starts, so Savard will look to cash in on one final big contract before he retires. Seattle may be the perfect spot and one of the only teams that can offer Savard exactly what he is looking for.
With the emergence of Jeremy Swayman and the Bruins cap crunch this offseason, Rask may have to find himself a new home next season. He’s spent his entire 14-year career with the Bruins, but it may be time for the franchise’s all-time wins leader to head out west. Even if he takes a hometown discount, the Bruins may want to go younger and cheaper in goal. His experience and winning pedigree may be the perfect combination for Seattle next season.
There is some risk when you bring in a 34-year-old goaltender, but Rask has shown no signs of slowing down as he gets older. He sits 12th in the NHL with a 2.22 goals against average (GAA) this season and is coming off a season where he finished second in Vezina voting. He has a .792 high-danger chance save percentage, meaning he is bailing his team out at a high percentage when facing shooters in high danger areas. Rask would be a great fit for Seattle as he brings a wealth of experience that includes leading his team to two Stanley Cup Finals as a starter.
Hyman is having a career season with the Toronto Maple Leafs that will lead to a substantial raise this offseason. His current cap hit of $2.25 million looks like a bargain, as the 28-year-old has 33 points in 43 games. The Leafs are in trouble this offseason due to the flat cap, so it is most likely Hyman will walk at the end of the season due to insufficient cap space and a desire to cash in on his successful season.
Hyman has continued to develop each season and has turned into a consistent 20-goal-scorer in the NHL. He is defensively responsible and can provide some toughness to any lineup he is inserted into. The one area of weakness for Hyman is playoff experience. Due to the Leafs’ inability to win a playoff series, we do not know what type of impact he’d make through a playoff run. Regardless, this is a player that Seattle should be keen on signing in free agency. Even if his offensive game does not translate without the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander around him, he is still sound enough defensively, as evident by his career 51.9 percent Corsi to be a difference-maker for the Kraken.
Barrie signed a one-year “prove it” contract in Edmonton this past season and has delivered. The Victoria, BC native has delivered by putting up 38 points in 45 games. It has taken Barrie 25 fewer games this season to almost match his point total of 39 from last season with the Leafs. He’d be a great addition to help run the power play and eat up big minutes for the Kraken next season.
Barrie is a hybrid defenseman that thrives when put into offensive situations. He knows how to get pucks through and towards the net, as evident by his 47.3 percent shots through percentage and is closing in on 300 career assists for his career. He ranks six in points by defenceman this season and third in power play points. He is also reliable as he only has six penalty minutes all season. Barrie seems like a no-brainer when it comes to who the Kraken should sign in the offseason.
The St. Louis Blues are a mess when it comes to the expansion draft and free agency. They only have a projected $18 million next season and still need to sign players like Vince Dunn, Robert Thomas, and Jordan Kyrou. This may mean that St. Louis does not have enough cap space to re-sign Schwartz. The 10-year veteran has spent his entire career with the Blues and helped them win the Stanley Cup back in 2019. If he does become available, he could be a great addition to the Kraken as that veteran leader who knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup.
Schwartz has seen his statistics decrease over the last year, but he could benefit from a change of scenery. He currently holds a 57 percent Corsi in his career, along with a .69 points-per-game average for his career. He knows how to score and can provide that veteran leadership in a bottom-six role. The best part about Schwartz, however, is that you can probably get him at a bargain compared to his last contract. His current cap hit is $5.35 million, but the Kraken should be able to get him from around $3 million a season based on his point decrease this season. He is a player that can move up and down the lineup and produce from wherever he plays. He is a valuable piece in the Blues organization, but he may be the perfect piece for a Seattle team that wants to be competitive from the start.
A Fantastic Opportunity
This offseason is a golden opportunity for Seattle to build a championship caliber team like we see in Vegas. Teams will be cash-strapped and there are significant names who need new contracts. We will have to see who the Kraken take in the expansion draft before cementing which free agents they should go after. Knowing who is avaliable may sway Seattle in who they select from each team knowing a better option is available via free agency.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken team. His work can also be found at dubnetwork.ca where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Adam is excited to be part of the Kraken’s inaugural season and ready to bring you in depth coverage of the NHL’s 32nd team.