2021-22 Team: Carolina Hurricanes (NHL), Chicago Wolves (AHL)
2021-22 Season: Poturalski had a stellar season for the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Chicago Wolves. He scored 101 points in 71 games and added 23 points in 18 Calder Cup Playoff games. He went on to win his second Calder Cup championship in a row.
Type of Acquisition: Signed on the opening day of free agency, July 13, 2022.
Poturalski’s Pre-Kraken Career
We’ll jump back to the 2011-12 season to start looking at Poturalski’s career thus far. He played 33 games for the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s (OJHL) Buffalo Jr. Sabres and scored 38 points in 33 games. He then contributed five goals and seven points in their eight playoff games. He jumped up to the United States Hockey League (USHL) for two games with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and scored two goals and three points before closing out that season.
He spent the next two years in the USHL playing for the RoughRiders. He played 113 games and scored 39 goals and 97 points. Scoring has always been his strong suit, and it followed him to college hockey as he played for the University of New Hampshire from 2014-2016. In 77 games, he scored 36 goals and 81 points. That includes 22 goals and 52 points in 37 games during his second and final collegiate season. Despite this, he didn’t receive a nomination for the Hobey Baker Award.
He turned pro following that season and spent much of his professional career within the Carolina Hurricanes organization, though he spent some time with the Anaheim Ducks organization. His only four NHL games came with the Hurricanes; playing two games in each of two seasons, and he tallied his only two points this past season. He’s become a prolific American Hockey League (AHL) scorer and has won back-to-back Calder Cups as AHL champions.
This past season with the Chicago Wolves, he scored 28 goals, 73 assists and 101 points in 71 games. All were career highs. He then matched his 2018-19 postseason production with 23 points in 18 games. In all, he’s played 370 AHL games and scored 105 goals, 222 assists and 327 points. He added on 21 goals and 51 points in 49 playoff games. In seasons where he’s played at least 20 games, he’s scored at least 43 points every year.
Poturalski’s Fit With the Kraken
This is going to be another NHL depth/AHL signing. Kraken general manager Ron Francis needs to fully stock an AHL team now that they have the Coachella Valley Firebirds all to themselves, and Poturalski’s going to be filling that role. The Kraken will have a plethora of young talent coming through the Firebirds’ ranks over the next few seasons, and he is a proven winner who is a consistent scorer at that level and can help guide their incoming prospects in their development.
Another plus is that he has experience playing in all situations. He scored 12 power-play goals and 29 power-play assists for 41 power-play points for the Wolves. He also added a shorthanded goal and two shorthanded assists. Even with 44 special teams points, he still scored 57 points at even strength.
It is hard to imagine he’d get more than a fill-in role if he does get called up to the big club. Even if he earns a call-up, it’s hard to think given what we saw last year that head coach Dave Hakstol wouldn’t play him on the fourth line. That’s not to take away from his ability, just with the names in front of him on the depth chart, he’d need to perform as he did last year, if not better. However, he’s coming to an organization that’s in a drastically different place than the one he left, so anything is possible.
Was Signing Poturalski a Hit or a Miss?
I’d find it hard to say that this signing isn’t a hit. Poturalski just scored over 100 points en route to his second straight championship ring. He’s even got a Calder Cup Playoffs MVP title to his name. As has become a common theme, it’s a low-cost and high-reward signing. Interestingly, he was signed for two years instead of one.
His varying point totals by strength show that he is balanced in his production in all situations, too. Shorthanded points are a bonus, and the Wolves finished fifth in the AHL with an 83.2 percent penalty kill. That’s something that should widen some eyes within the Kraken organization.
If he sees NHL action, it’s a bonus. If the Firebirds make a run in their inaugural year? Another bonus. If he can’t find chemistry and something just doesn’t click, then he’s either a low-reward, tradable asset, or he’s just on the hook for one more year, at a rather negligible cap hit. As they’ve shown recently, the Kraken have cap space to work with. It is a solid move by Francis and will likely pay dividends at some level before his contract expires.
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.