For NHL teams to be successful, they need to have strong player management. This means properly developing and evaluating their own players so they understand what sort of value each player has. If this is done incorrectly, organizations can lose players for little to no return. Although the Seattle Kraken are still in their first season, there have been some questionable moves regarding player management. Whether through trade or the waiver wire, the Kraken have lost players for little to no return this season. Here is how three of those players have done since departing the organization.
Vitek Vanecek, Washington Captials
After the Seattle Kraken signed Philipp Grubauer during free agency, they shipped goaltender Vitek Vanecek back to the Washington Capitals for a 2023 second-round pick. While he has thrived with the Capitals, the goaltending in Seattle has been abysmal, leading those to wonder if they made the wrong move in goal. Here is how his season has compared to the Kraken’s duo:
|Record||Save Percentage||Goals-Against Average|
The Kraken were distracted by Grubauer, which led them to give up on Vanecek too early. They never even brought him to camp to properly evaluate if he would be a fit for the team. There is no harm in bringing three potential starting goaltenders into training camp and seeing which one rises to the occasion. If he played well during the preseason, it may have even raised his trade value if they were convinced moving him was the only option. Time was on their side, but they rushed through the process and lost out on a young up-and-coming goaltender who is showing this year he is ready to be a starter in the NHL.
Alex Barré-Boulet, Tampa Bay Lightning
Losing Alex Barré-Boulet for nothing is a painful one. The Kraken were able to claim him off waivers on Oct. 11, 2021, from the Lightning because Tampa Bay ran out of time and needed to make a move before the start of the season. There were multiple teams interested in him, but the Kraken were lucky enough that they could snag him off the waiver wire. He played just two games with them before he was placed on waivers again and lost to Tampa Bay, who were able to re-acquire him through the process.
Seattle gave him a two-game trial before losing him for nothing. There was interest from other teams just a few weeks prior, and somehow the Kraken were unable to take advantage of the situation and instead just gave him back to the Lightning for no return. This was not the same situation as the Lightning had where they were running out of time and were forced to make a move; this was a situation where the Kraken rushed the process and lost out on a potential return. If they wanted to send down a player, they had an option in Will Borgen, who would have been a better bet to make it through waivers. Although Barré-Boulet hasn’t been able to crack the Lightning lineup on a consistent basis playing only 14 games with them so far this campaign, he could have been a useful piece for the Kraken who have struggled to find offence throughout their inaugural season.
Nathan Bastian, New Jersey Devils
Nathan Bastian was claimed off waivers by the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 25, 2021. The hard-hitting winger only played 12 games with the Kraken before he was placed on waivers registering one goal, two points and 16 hits. In 37 games since returning to the Devils, he has eight goals, nine points and 132 hits. He has also seen an increase of just under four minutes per game, as well as seeing time on the power play.
With Bastian, it was clear that the Kraken were not utilizing him correctly. Instead of taking the time to develop him further or at least explore the trade market, they placed him on waivers and lost a player that has a very bright future. It is hard to believe that no team would have jumped at the opportunity to trade for a 23-year-old who had 139 hits last season despite his slow start to 2021-22. As mentioned, they lost him for nothing while New Jersey got off scot-free from the expansion draft process.
Kraken Need Better Player Managment in the Future
The Kraken need to do a better job of evaluating their player’s worth in the future. Whether it was through trade or players lost on waivers, they should have received more compensation for the three players mentioned. If this organization is going to be successful, they need to ensure they are stockpiling as many picks and prospects as possible. Otherwise, they will be stuck in mediocrity for a very long time.
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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.