This one could cause some controversy. The Seattle Kraken need to further bolster their prospect pool by adding Conor Geekie this upcoming NHL Entry Draft. Conor, younger brother of their restricted free agent forward Morgan, is a big center with high-end potential who’s projected to be drafted in the mid-first round.
Now, before you say, “there’s no way the Kraken should take him at fourth-overall,” I agree and have a different idea. They should look to make a trade for the New York Islanders’ 13th-overall selection. In exchange? Return a familiar face to Long Island. In this article, I’ll give some background on Conor, propose a trade that could help both teams, and examine how he would fit with the Kraken. This is going to be a fun one.
Conor Geekie’s Mini Prospect Profile
Geekie brings a lot to the table. Literally. He’s a 6-foot-4, 205-pound center. He has a world of potential, and his strengths include his hockey IQ and playmaking abilities, while his skating is one of the major holdups that could allow him to fall into the Kraken’s tentacles.
He currently plays for the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Winnipeg Ice and finished a 63-game regular season with 24 goals, 70 points and 49 penalty minutes. He held a plus-46 rating. He added three goals, 11 points and 14 penalty minutes in 15 playoff games.
He excels at using his frame and protecting the puck. He’s able to win puck battles down low and likes to push the pace, generating high-danger scoring chances for either himself or his teammates. While his skating is average for a WHLer, or below-average for an NHLer, he played most of last season as a 17-year-old. Being that he’s on the young side, he’s got a lot of time to work it out.
Kraken Should Swap Jordan Eberle for Islanders’ 13th-Overall Pick
I can hear yelling from Blue Line Deli & Bagels from that heading alone. First and foremost, I have to give a shout-out to THW’s Adam Kierszenblat for his consultation regarding this potential trade. Here it is:
Kraken Receive: 13th-overall pick
Islanders Receive: Jordan Eberle (with 50% salary retained) + 35th-overall pick
Let’s start with the Kraken side of things. First, they have the cap space to retain two years of Eberle’s half-salary. Generally speaking, they need to acquire another first-round pick. They have four second-round picks in this draft and can definitely use them to move up.
Even if they make the trade and someone takes Geekie before them, they’ll still have the chance to grab a top-15 prospect. Whether it’s drafting the best available or drafting to fill (one of many) needs, they’re still building and it needs to happen. Don’t like the idea of parting with one of the four second-round picks? Well, the organization has three more next year already. With that, we’ll head to the Island.
At first glance, it almost seems counterintuitive; why would the Islanders trade for someone they left exposed at the Expansion Draft? Isn’t he on the wrong side of 30 having recently turned 32 years old, and has a $5.5 million cap hit over the next two seasons? ALSO he has a modified no-trade clause where he submits a 16-team no-trade list?
Despite this and his age, he scored his most goals and points in a season, and it was his first time hitting 20 goals, since the 2017-18 season, his first with the Islanders. While the past two seasons weren’t full seasons and the world was engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic, he did that while on a very offensively challenged Kraken team.
With that in mind, he could still be valuable to the Islanders. The basis for this assertion? Mathew Barzal.
Barzal played a lot better with Eberle than without. Many speculate that the Islanders’ season was doomed due to a 13-game road trip to start the year, an 11-game winless skid, and being hit hard by COVID. However, numbers show that despite his 59 points in 73 games, he played better when Eberle was on the Island.
This past season saw his lowest goals per game and points per game, and shots per game of the past three seasons. He scored at a better rate during two shortened seasons than this past season; in other words, with Eberle rather than without. His Corsi-for rating (CF%) was a career low as well, not counting his two-game stint in 2016-17.
Speaking of Corsi, he generally played with captain Andres Lee and Eberle on a line. When they were together, they held a 55.41 CF%. Without Eberle, the pair’s percentage drops to 49.15. Individually, Barzal has a 54.54 CF% with Eberle and a 47.75 CF% without. Both sets of statistics in this paragraph are at 5-on-5 play, no special teams included and were calculated from over 80 games played.
This last tidbit may be the most important of them all. With Eberle, they made two straight Eastern Conference Final appearances. Without him, they missed the playoffs. While one player, unless you’re named Connor McDavid, likely can’t be impactful enough to account for the 17 standings points to have put them above the Washington Capitals, it’s hard to ignore these trends.
Examining Conor Geekie’s Potential Fit With the Kraken
First of all, I’m a sucker for a good storyline. The Kraken did it with Haydn and Cale Fleury, and they should do it again and unite brothers Morgan and Conor. Naturally, that means that they’ll have to re-sign Morgan. Brothers playing together is a great story, but let’s get back to objectivity and address his poor skating. He’s young and has tremendous upside. He has the time to work on that skating as the Kraken don’t need him to step in and be a difference-making, impact player right away.
If it wasn’t a lock before, nine points in 10 games suggests that Matty Beniers is already en route to being stapled to the first-line center role for the Kraken for years to come. While they do have a handful of versatile players who can play center or wing, only two are signed for more than the next two years.
They likely aren’t contending for the Stanley Cup in the near future, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be a bad team for years on years. However, they have time to develop him properly. He can work on his skating and become a very valuable and hockey-smart, playmaking asset for the future (though don’t sleep on his shot). He can be the team’s future No. 2 center and be an option on the power play as a half-wall quarterback.
A one-two punch of Beniers and Conor Geekie up the middle sounds like a pretty nice start to their core. Add a prospect like Ryker Evans to their blue line and whomever they select with the fourth-overall pick and things are going to be getting exciting in the Pacific Northwest.
I know, I know, A LOT needs to happen for this to work, but it’s a move that could prove beneficial to both teams. Bringing in a familiar face to help transition into new head coach Lane Lambert’s tenure, following his hiring after three years with the team as an associate coach. Especially if Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello sees their window still open, they don’t need a player who may not be ready to step in right away, they need Eberle back.
Whether I just predicted the future or not – you know what I’m going to say here – stick with the fantastic writing team at The Hockey Writers for all your Kraken and Islanders coverage. Since we’re talking about the draft, be sure to check out our FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide as draft day quickly approaches.
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Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.