Kraken & Capitals Make Good Trade Partners Ahead of Deadline

The Seattle Kraken need to be acquiring as much draft capital and accumulating as many prospects as possible as they head into the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. As things stand, they have all seven of their draft picks, the Calgary Flames’ fourth-round pick this year, and just a small handful of prospects that look like they have an immediate shot at a roster spot.

Brian MacLellan and Ron Francis Trade Partners Washington Capitals Seattle Kraken
Ron Francis and Brian MacLellan (The Hockey Writers)

The Washington Capitals are looking for forwards and will be eying the Pacific Division, notably Seattle and Vancouver, according to Elliotte Friedman. If Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan comes calling, then Kraken general manager Ron Francis should be listening. Here are three prospects they should be looking to acquire, and three forwards they should look to deal.

Kraken Should Look To Acquire These Prospects From Capitals

The Capitals are in the waning years of their Alexander Ovechkin/Nicklas Backstrom core, despite holding a firm grip in the wild card race. To keep their Stanley Cup window open with this aging core, they’re going to have to give up some of their future to win now. They’ll need to sell in order to buy. Here are some names, coincidentally, all having played junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL), that the Kraken should be looking to snag.

Brett Leason, Right Wing

It’s hard to say no to a younger player with tremendous size who drives offense. Leason, taken 56th overall in 2019, is just that at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. He scored 60 goals and 140 points in 190 WHL games, including 28 points in 33 playoff games. He was instrumental in the 2018-19 Prince Albert Raiders team winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions. 

Related: 10 Unsigned WHL Players From 2020 Draft

He saw his production rate increase from his first to his second season in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Hershey Bears and has played in 34 NHL games this season, scoring six points. His high hockey IQ and great wrist shot could make him a very valuable addition to what will be a young core in Seattle. 

Bear Hughes, Center

Another forward with size, the 6-foot-2 Spokane Chiefs’ captain is known to use his strength to win battles and maintain puck possession. He’s scored 39 points in 41 games, and has taken over 650 faceoffs, winning more than half. If he can translate the offensive success, and maintain his faceoff prowess at the professional level, the Kraken could have a strong middle-six center.

Bear Hughes Washington Capitals
Bear Hughes, Washington Capitals prospect ( Sammi Silber / Washington Hockey Now )

It’s also a good sign that he’s getting this leadership experience. While he’s an older player for the WHL, he’s captaining a team that’s near the league’s basement, which is a valuable experience. The Post Falls, ID native really enjoys having his family and friends so close to him while playing in Spokane, WA. Being that Seattle is roughly five hours away, it’s something the Kraken faithful could really get behind.

Vincent Iorio, Right-handed Defenseman

The Kraken are in desperate need of right-handed defensemen. They’ve only had one lineup regular who’s right-handed, Adam Larsson. The other two who’ve suited up have combined for fewer than 20 NHL games this season. Iorio could be the perfect fit. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder was taken 55th overall in 2021 and has six points in his past five games.

Iorio on the breakout is basically Han Solo with a blaster: Well-placed laser-beam after well-placed laser-beam. He misdirects opponents by looking relaxed, even vulnerable, before firing. He looks off his target, skates into the lane, then holds the deception until the puck’s released, even for long-range, three-line passes.

Elite Prospects 2021 NHL Draft Guide

He has seven goals and 26 points in 34 games this season, and might help provide some offense that the Kraken blue line desperately needs. The Kraken do have another big right-handed defenseman in the pipeline in Ville Ottavainen, and Iorio could be another piece to the puzzle; especially considering how his WHL nemesis Ryker Evans has been performing this season. 

Kraken Forwards the Capitals Should Consider Acquiring

The Kraken are expected to be sellers at the deadline, and they should look to move some veteran forwards. They have three on cheap, expiring deals that the Capitals should take a good look at as they fight to add another Stanley Cup ring to the mantle. 

Marcus Johansson, Center & Wing

He’d be a familiar face for Caps fans. Unfortunately for him, his last season with the team was the one prior to their winning the Stanley Cup. In 501 games with Washington, Johansson scored 102 goals and 290 points. He’s scored 103 points in 220 games since. It’s been a difficult year for him in Seattle, with just 15 points in 37 games, but eight have come on the power play, where the Capitals struggle. 

Marcus Johansson
Marcus Johansson started his career with Washington after being drafted 24th overall in 2009. (Tom Turk/THW)

Playing with some familiar faces could help the 31-year-old turn things around and provide the team with some depth scoring. If he can recapture the scoring form of his early years, and channel what he found with the Boston Bruins in the 2018-19 postseason, he could be a fantastic addition. 

Calle Jarnkrok, Center & Wing

Washington’s special teams could use some work, and Jarnkrok has seen decent ice time on both the Kraken power play and penalty kill. He has nine goals on the year, placing him tied for fifth with the injured Brandon Tanev. However, those nine goals would also place him tied for fifth on the Capitals. 

Calle Jarnkrok Seattle Kraken
Calle Jarnkrok, Seattle Kraken forward (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He has only taken one penalty all season and has just 115 penalty minutes in 545 NHL games, so he’ll stay out of the box and his versatility would be valuable for both special teams units. He has a $2 million cap hit and will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the season. 

Riley Sheahan, Center & Wing

Sheahan isn’t going to light up the score sheet or anything, but what he can do is help the penalty kill. He’s been one of the most utilized Kraken penalty killers. He had a strong January that saw him as the only Kraken above 50 percent on draws; an area where the Capitals greatly struggle. 

Riley Sheahan, Seattle Kraken
Riley Sheahan, Seattle Kraken forward (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He’s the kind of player that would fly under the radar, especially if he ends up on a team with guys like Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. He could provide the kind of depth, presumably penalty killing and in the faceoff dot, that could help Washington in their Stanley Cup push.

Related: Kraken Claim Kuhlman, Czarnik & Cholowski off Waivers

There may have to be draft picks involved, or even packaging some of these players together to make it work. The Kraken should be willing to retain salary or accept a temporary salary dump if need be in order to complete some of these additions. Either way, they’ll be making a lot of changes over the coming months, and securing some of these prospects is a good start.

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