In order for NHL teams to succeed, they need to have players signed to value deals. This could be anything from a breakout star who signed a contract before they hit their peak, to a bottom-six forward who provides value while making under $1 million. With the Seattle Kraken now so close to the cap ceiling, these contracts will become more valuable as they will help the organization stay competitive while being able to pay their top players what they are worth.
Comparing contracts is never easy as every player has a different role on the team. Based on market comparables from not just contracts signed this offseason, but also previously signed contracts, here are the three best the Kraken have on their 2022-23 roster. (Note, entry-level contracts will not be included, which means Matty Beniers and Shane Wright will not be listed).
No one on the Kraken threw more hits, blocked more shots or played more minutes than Adam Larsson last season. The 29-year-old was arguably Seattle’s best defenceman during the 2021-22 season and projects to once again be a leader on the blue line. As for his cap hit, he is making $4 million next season, which is tied for second amongst defenders and tied for 10th on the team.
Finding right-shot defencemen that can log over 22 minutes a night successfully is a challenge in the NHL. Despite being top-15 among right-shot defencemen in hits, blocks and shorthanded time across the league, he is ranked 40th when it comes to cap hit. For what he is getting paid compared to the market value of right shot, shutdown first-pairing defenders, he should be considered a steal.
When the Kraken traded for Oliver Bjorkstrand, they were acquiring one of the best long-term deals in the NHL. The 27-year-old is coming off a career year that saw him score 28 goals and 57 points with the Blue Jackets despite averaging less than 18 minutes a night. He now joins Seattle, where not only will his linemates be more offensively gifted, but he is expected to see an increase in ice time at five on five, which will give him more opportunity to finally break through the 30-goal mark.
While some may not think that $5.4 million is a bargain contract, it is when comparing him to other right-wingers across the league. Last season, he ranked 13th in goals and 20th in points compared to everyone who played his position. As for points per game, he finished 24th when compared to right-wingers who played 25 games or more. As for salary, however, he ranks 30th in his position group. Although it may look high from a distance, it is one of the best deals in the league, especially if he hits the 30-goal, 65-point mark as projected next season.
Every team needs a guy like Will Borgen – a defenceman who can play bottom-pairing minutes that is decent yet doesn’t make a ton of money. Last season, he did his job to perfection playing 36 games and finishing with a positive plus/minus rating.
Coming in at $900,000 next season, he will be one of the cheapest non-entry-level contracts on the team. He is also expected to see a jump in games as the projected third-pair right-shot defenceman for the season. A player that can play a physical brand of hockey while also contributing in the offensive zone to an extent, he brings value to the Kraken organization for under $1 million.
Kraken Have a Good Number of Value Contracts
While the Kraken do have some that are overpaid, they have more players signed to value contracts than not. Others include Kole Lind, Carson Soucy, Ryan Donato and John Hayden. Overall, Ron Francis and his management group have built a strong team for the 2022-23 season, and one that will continue to benefit from the three contracts mentioned above.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.