Kraken Need to Exploit Cap Space for Future Assets

As the salary cap has grown to become such a consequential aspect of managing a team in the NHL, teams have started to find new ways to take advantage of cap space. One such strategy, utilized most recently by the Arizona Coyotes, is to take on bad contracts in exchange for future assets. Given the Kraken’s poor performance this season, general manager Ron Francis should look to take on money and pile up as many picks and prospects as possible.

Recent Trades for Cap Space

In the past few years, many contenders have looked to shed salary by sending cap dumps to bottom-feeding teams with cap space. The Coyotes, in their firesale rebuild, have taken advantage several times. Last offseason, GM Bill Armstrong took on Shayne Gostisbehere’s and Andrew Ladd’s contracts from the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders, respectively, and received three second-round picks, a third-round pick, and a seventh-round pick as compensation. The only thing Armstrong sent the other way was future considerations.

Shayne Gostisbehere Arizona Coyotes
Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Armstrong employed a similar strategy in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks. As part of the rebuild, Arizona sent Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the Canucks. In return, the Coyotes received the ninth-overall pick, as well as second and seventh-round picks. In order to garner such a solid return, Armstrong also took on the expensive contracts of Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel, all of which expire at the end of this season.

Related: Kraken Prospect Report: Daccord, Melanson, Winterton & More

Rebuilding teams have also used the trade deadline to add picks, agreeing to act as a facilitator by retaining salary on deadline acquisitions. For example, at the 2021 trade deadline, when Nick Foligno was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Detroit Red Wings retained some of his salary in exchange for a fourth-round pick. The Kraken would be smart to look for a similar opportunity at the upcoming deadline.

Opportunities for the Kraken

Several players who are likely to be moved at the deadline have very hefty cap hits, making it difficult for contending teams, most of whom are near the cap ceiling, to acquire them. The Kraken should try to help facilitate by retaining salary.

Flyers forward Claude Giroux is one such player who could be on the move. The Colorado Avalanche are rumoured to be interested, but have nowhere near the room to take on his $8.275 million cap hit. Even if the Flyers were to retain half, Colorado would still have a tough time managing it. The Kraken could offer to take on 50% of the already half-retained contract (effectively retaining 25%) and receive a pick in return.

Claude Giroux Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This same scenario could play out with any number of rental options at the deadline. J.T. Miller of the Canucks, John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars, and Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks, all pending UFAs, are some other options. Teams that are interested in centers, like the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild, or teams that are interested in defensemen, like the Florida Panthers, could be interested in Seattle’s services when it comes to salary retention. Ron Francis would be smart to take advantage and add to the Kraken’s draft capital.

In the offseason, the Kraken could simply acquire a player whose contract is bloated from a contending team looking to shed salary. The Avalanche are once again an option, as veteran defenseman Erik Johnson‘s $6 million average annual value is a bit of an anchor. Similarly to Gostisbehere and the Coyotes, Seattle could acquire a defenseman who is still perfectly useful as well as some form of compensation.

The Kraken are one of the few teams in the league with cap space to spare. They would do well to use it to take advantage of contenders and add some much-needed future assets for the rebuild ahead.

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