The Seattle Kraken’s main goal during the 2022 offseason was clear, improve their forward depth. In total, the organization signed six forwards in free agency to standard NHL contracts and traded for Oliver Bjorkstrand. While adding depth is a positive step forward, it now makes it more difficult for a player like Alex True to get a shot with the team. This poses the question, is it time for the Kraken to part with him?
Kraken Depth Chart
Before free agency started, the Kraken extended True with a one-year, two-way, $750,000 contract. Based on last year’s roster, it looked as though he would get a chance at least to compete for an opening night roster spot. Then, Seattle went on a signing spree. With the additions of André Burakovsky, Bjorkstrand, Shane Wright, John Hayden, Cameron Hughes, and Andrew Poturalski, plus re-signing Ryan Donato and Karson Khulman, it is difficult to see where an opening may exist.
Another issue is that the Kraken lost only two forwards they ended the season with in Riley Sheahan and Victor Rask. There is a third with Daniel Sprong but he was signed to a tryout with Seattle before training camp. It was already a major challenge for True to make the lineup last season due to the forward logjam, but now, that uphill battle seems even steeper. All things point to him once again being in the American Hockey League (AHL), this time with the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
True’s 2021-22 Season
Over his AHL career, True has shown he has no problem producing points and being a catalyst in the offensive zone. Last year was no different as he led the Charlotte Checkers with 42 points in 60 games. He also had a strong playoff run with seven points in seven games. Thanks to his strong play in the minors, he was called up and played eight games with the Kraken from mid-December to mid-January.
While in the AHL, True also was given time on both special teams units. By the end of the season, he had finished with five power-play goals and three assists, along with two shorthanded goals and one assist. While the competition is lower at the AHL level, it shows he has the knowledge and skill set to be trusted on special teams. It was disappointing to see him not get a chance on special teams during his call-up especially considering this was a major problem area for the Kraken last season.
Digging into his call-up to the NHL, one thing stuck out like a sore thumb; Dave Hakstol did not trust him. He played an average of 8:15 during the eight games spending most of his time with Joonas Donskoi and Donato on the team’s fourth line. While these linemates know how to produce in the offensive zone, he was never able to get into a rhythm as his playtime decreased game after game. In his first game, he played 11:08 of ice time, but by game eight, he was only on the ice for 4:47. Despite his decreasing ice time, he was still making a difference on the ice by playing a physical game with 22 total hits. The continual decrease of minutes did not make sense at the time, and looking back shows that it may have been better to leave him in the AHL and let him get consistent minutes, rather than staple him to the bench and press box for a month.
What Should the Kraken Do?
There comes a time in a player’s development when they need to be given a chance at the NHL level. True has now played 263 AHL games and has shown he is ready for a spot on an NHL roster where he is given a chance to succeed. Unfortunately, the Kraken organization is not that place. Instead of potentially losing him on waivers as they did with Alex Barré-Boulet, Austin Czarnik and Nathan Bastian, it would be better to move him for an asset. Although he has ties to Seattle from his junior days, it may be best for the former Seattle Thunderbird to get an opportunity somewhere else.
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Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.