The Seattle Kraken retained a key piece of their future on Tuesday by re-signing top-line center and pending restricted free agent Jared McCann, a move for which Seattle fans had been clamoring. The contract is worth $25 million over the next five seasons. McCann, arguably the Kraken’s MVP over the course of their inaugural season, becomes the first player in Kraken franchise history to re-sign with the team, doing so on a very reasonable deal.
McCann this Season
After a breakout year with the Pittsburgh Penguins last year, McCann has continued to be productive with the Kraken. Through 51 games, he leads the team by a wide margin with a career-high 21 goals. He has compiled 12 assists as well to lead the Kraken in points and tie a career-high with 33.
McCann has also taken on a key offensive role for the Kraken this year, making him an indispensable piece of the team. He has been the team’s first-line center for virtually the entire season, often paired with second-leading scorer Jordan Eberle. He is an important part of Seattle’s first power-play unit as well, lining up on the left side and leading the team with 11 power-play points. His seven power-play goals are also a team-high.
McCann has shown that last season’s performance with the Penguins was no fluke. His productivity has continued to climb, cementing him as a bonafide top-six center. As the Kraken improve as a team and surround him with stronger pieces over the next five years, he will only get better and more productive.
Given McCann’s performance and age, his contract provides great value. At only 25, his new deal will carry through his peak years in the NHL. Considering the type of player he is now as well as the upward trajectory that is likely to follow, $5 million is more than a reasonable investment.
Per CapFriendly.com’s Contract Comparable Tool, many of McCann’s recent comparables provide significant optimism for his future. On the high end, players like Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers, Elias Lindholm of the Calgary Flames, and Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers signed very similar contracts with very similar production up to that point. As we have seen, all three have exploded into elite first-line centers, considered among the top in the league at their position. A more recent example is Joel Eriksson Ek of the Minnesota Wild, who signed a contract last summer at a similar cap hit for eight years. So far, he has more than made good on his deal.
On the lower end of the spectrum are players like Bryan Little of the Winnipeg Jets, Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers, and Seattle’s own Alex Wennberg, then with the Columbus Blue Jackets. All three are very useful players but are far more suited to middle-six duty than the first-line responsibility that McCann will hope to take on.
In all likelihood, McCann will fall somewhere in the middle of these comparables. Even if he remains at the same level he is at now, his contract looks as though it will age favorably. General manager Ron Francis should be commended for getting McCann locked in on these terms.
Not only does the McCann deal represent great value for the Kraken, but it also establishes an important precedent for a new team. The importance of getting a core player locked in at such a reasonable price cannot be understated. Francis and the rest of the Seattle management team will hope that their other key young players in the coming years follow suit by re-upping with the franchise at such a reasonable rate.