If the 2022 NHL offseason has taught fans and teams anything, it is that cap space is an organization’s best asset. When teams are able to weaponize what they have available, they can acquire players like Max Pacioretty, Matt Murray or Victor Rask without giving up assets.
As of July 17, 2022, the Kraken have $9.86 million available for the 2022-23 season. They do need to sign Morgan Geekie, Kole Lind, Carsen Twarynski and Cale Fleury, but once those deals are done, it should leave them with over $7 million in cap space. With that in mind, here is how they can get better by weaponizing their cap space in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal’s Cap Situation
The Canadiens put the hockey world on notice by making some big trades this offseason. From acquiring Evgenii Dadonov and Kirby Dach to moving out long-time workhorses Shea Weber and Jeff Petry, they look poised to do everything in their power to push for a playoff spot. This is a bold strategy but looks as though it will pay off based on their current roster construction.
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The issue the Canadiens now face is they only have $1.248 million in cap space and still need to sign Dach. According to Evolving-Hockey, they project that his next contract will come in at $2.43 million per season, which would put them over the cap ceiling. With Weber’s contract gone and no other players expected to be placed on long-term injury reserve, it means they have to make additional moves to become salary cap compliant. This is where the Kraken come in. If they use their cap space successfully, they could nab a player that could help them this season and beyond. Here are two players that Seattle should be focused on from Montreal.
Current Contract: 1 year remaining, $5.5 million cap hit
The Jonathan Drouin experiment in Montreal has not worked out, and it may be best for the two parties to go their separate ways. Whether it was immense pressure from the fan base or injury troubles, bringing the Quebec native home has proven to be a failed experiment. As of the end of the 2021-22 season, he had played a total of 263 games with the storied franchise scoring 46 goals and recording 157 points.
Getting a versatile winger to help Shane Wright during his first season may be exactly what the doctor ordered for Seattle. Drouin can play all three forward positions, which could be beneficial as the young centerman gets adjusted to the NHL. The current Canadiens forward also understands the pressure of being a top-five pick, having gone third overall to the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 2013.
Related: Kraken Would Be Wise to Target Drouin
While the Canadiens aren’t going to give Drouin up for nothing, Seattle could be in a position to get him for pennies on the dollar. As mentioned, they need cap space to sign Dach while also needing to make room for first overall pick Juraj Slafkovský. This could be the fresh start both sides need, with the Kraken providing him with a great opportunity to revitalize his career.
Current Contract: 3 years remaining, $3.4 million cap hit
Joel Armia is the perfect example of a player who cashed in at the right time. After playing a key part in the Canadiens’ run to the Stanley Cup in the summer of 2021, he signed a four-year deal worth $13.6 million. The issue with the contract is that while he is an effective player who can bring a physical presence, he plays on the fourth line and tied his career low with .23 points per game last season.
The 29-year-old would be a good target for the Kraken as they are a team that likes to play a physical game. Armia is listed at 6-foot-4, 218 pounds and threw 104 hits in 60 games last season. They need to add some more physicality to their forward group, which would make him a good fit for this team.
Related: 5 Canadiens That Should Be Moved This Offseason
As for a potential deal, this has the same feel as the Rask trade the Kraken made last season. If Seattle agrees to take on Armia’s entire salary, they may even get an additional asset back in the form of a late draft pick. Based on their roster construction, the Canadiens cannot afford to pay a bottom-six forward who averages under 14 minutes a game with little special teams $3 million of their cap space. This deal is beneficial to both sides as each team walks away having filled a need.
Kraken Need to Weaponize Cap Space
Montreal is just one of many around the league that the Kraken can take advantage of thanks to the salary cap. With the cap increasing by a maximum of $2 million next season, Seattle needs to find a way to weaponize it and bring back assets that will help them in the future. This is a big offseason for Ron Francis and his team as it is already set up as a building block for years to come.