The Seattle Kraken will be sellers at this year’s trade deadline, the first in team history. They have the chance to make some big moves and correct some of the picks they made in the expansion draft. This will be by selling upcoming free agents as rentals or even someone with term.
Not all upcoming free agents will be sold at the deadline, as the Kraken have a number of unrestricted free agents (UFA) and restricted free agents (RFA). It’s much less likely that the team will elect to trade the RFAs with the skill and potential they possess. Plus, they need good young pieces to build around.
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Some players just haven’t worked out in Seattle thus far, and even if they still have term left on their contracts, they could be candidates to move in the offseason if there are no takers or if the market isn’t to their liking before the trade deadline. With a rebuilding team and still a number of older players signed on for multiple years, they have to be looking to trade some with value in order to efficiently build for the future and stock their prospect pool and minor system with up-and-coming talent.
We will look at some players on the Kraken who probably won’t be with the team by the start of the 2022-23 season.
The goaltending that the Kraken acquired in the expansion draft and free agency was expected to be the most solid position and the thing to worry about the least on this team. Rather, it has been their downfall, as Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger, along with the few starts by Joey Daccord, have combined to allow the third-most goals against per game this season.
Grubauer is the clear starter for the Kraken because Driedger hasn’t shown through his play this season that he should start more games. Grubauer has started 30 games, while Driedger has started only nine. Grubauer is signed for five more seasons at $5.9 million per year, while Driedger has a more movable contract making $3.5 for each of the next two seasons.
Driedger is younger (27 years old) and still has the potential to bounce back to the way he played in Florida, where he had a 2.07 goals-against average (GAA), a .931 save percentage (SV%), and four shutouts in 34 starts across two seasons. This season is not only on the goaltenders, as both Grubauer and Driedger came in with great numbers only to have that blow up on them in the same season.
Another reason to move Driedger sooner rather than later is because of the emergence of Daccord. The Kraken knew they had something in him when they selected him in the expansion draft, but he really impressed in training camp, ultimately losing out to two goaltenders signed to big deals. Having gotten multiple shots this season with the team already, he has proven he can back up while the Kraken rebuild, giving him the opportunity to get adjusted to the NHL.
There are some teams in need this season to help them make a run at the Stanley Cup this season, while even more suitors may emerge after this season with contracts off the books.
It would be disastrous if Mark Giordano makes it past the trade deadline with the Kraken, as he will have serious rental value for teams looking to add a solid player and a veteran presence with one acquisition. He isn’t the dominant top-pairing defender he once was, but he’s just over two seasons removed from winning the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman.
Don’t let the captaincy on his jersey fool you; captains have been traded before and will continue to be. Giordano is 38 and in the last year of his $6.75 million deal. The only roadblock may come in the form of his modified no-trade clause, where he can give the Kraken 19 teams he is willing to be traded to. Giordano controls some of his destiny and will likely list all teams that are in the playoff hunt for one of his last shots at a Stanley Cup. Either way, no team who’s out of the race will even call to acquire a veteran rental.
Giordano brings much more than what his offensive numbers have shown in the past. He also is very solid at keeping shot attempts away from the slot and towards the outside, as well as cutting off passing lanes on the penalty kill. The expectation is that the Kraken can get a first-round pick for him, which would be a great start to a rebuild. There will be a different element and plan for bringing Giordano in as opposed to other high-end defencemen who have been brought up and are expected to get traded in Jakob Chychrun and John Klingberg.
What was one of their better picks in the expansion draft, the Kraken selected Joonas Donskoi from the Colorado Avalanche. He had been a very consistent middle-six forward over the past four seasons between the Avalance and San Jose Sharks, scoring 14-plus goals and 30-plus points in each of the past four seasons.
But things have not gone according to plan once arriving in Seattle. Halfway through the season, Donskoi should have around seven goals or more, with more of an opportunity for the scoring to be spread around. He has failed to even score one goal and was scratched for the first time in their game against the Florida Panthers after appearing in every game to that point.
A big part of his game was the ability to score while at even strength, something that is harder to do than score power-play goals. In his last four seasons, Donskoi scored 12 or more even-strength goals each year while also being able to contribute on the power play in his past two. With a few more goals by him, the Kraken could have been in a ton of more games, as they have made games close despite their record.
With one year remaining on his contract after this season at $3.9 million, the Kraken should look to either sell him to a contender while retaining cap or look to move him in the offseason and salvage some assets in return while giving Donskoi a fresh start.
Calle Jarnkrok is someone that teams will be calling about before the deadline due to his low cap hit of $2 million and his versatility to play all three forward positions and anywhere in the lineup. He is a solid middle-six forward and will give any team 10-20 goals — he’s done so in six consecutive seasons and is on pace for his seventh.
He would be a good addition to any team, so realistically the Kraken could fetch a second to third-round pick for him. With eight draft picks in the coming draft, the extra being the Calgary Flames’ fourth-round pick, they have some work to do to take advantage of their second draft and stock for the future. Jarnkrok has improved his play at the right time, as it should add value to a return for the Kraken.
Jarnkrok is going to want a raise after this year with the stats he puts up. And for a rebuilding team that should focus on getting young talent, re-signing a 30-year old wouldn’t make much sense when they can have prospects get acquainted to the NHL. Plus, they already have a number of veterans signed for multiple years. Jarnkrok shouldn’t make it past the trade deadline, but if somehow he does, he will find himself a new home.
Marcus Johansson was a later signing for the Kraken and a player that can provide great value up and down the lineup for what he’s paid. He has been able to put up a respectable amount of points on any team he’s played for while playing for six different teams in the past six seasons.
Johansson has been dealt at the deadline once before, going from the New Jersey Devils to the Boston Bruins in 2018-19, so he’s no stranger to changing scenery mid-season or every year for that matter. Some teams should present themselves as suitors for Johansson, and there’s no reason to keep him around, as he presents the same scenario as Jarnkrok, a veteran on a team that is trying to get future assets and already has more than enough veterans signed long-term.
The Kraken should take what they can get and allow for more prospects to get into the lineup this season, as Johansson wouldn’t be back in free agency anyway. He should fetch a bit less than Jarnkrok, as his stats aren’t as good and he’s a year older. But teams would save an extra $500k, which would make a difference in some organizations this year.
Related: NHL Stat Corner: Maple Leafs, Kraken, Predators, Stars, Panthers, Sabres
There are always players that don’t return the following season from every team, whether it’s because of underperformance, wanting a raise based on good performance, or the direction of the team. There could be more Kraken players that don’t return in 2022-23 or even less, but the players listed above should be the top candidates to go and bring in the best return for the future of the team.