The Seattle Kraken’s inaugural season has not gone as planned and the team is sitting dead last in the Pacific division. Management is expected to evaluate some of their pending free agents and the expectation is that the Kraken will be very active on the trade market before the Mar.21 deadline. Insert the Pittsburgh Penguins. While it’s unlikely anything major materializes via trade out of Pittsburgh, they are expected to try and add some depth before the postseason begins.
When you’re once again considered a Stanley Cup contender, management owes it to the team and the fan base to go for it. Let’s take a look at three Kraken players who could fit in nicely for the Penguins.
The 25-year-old forward ended up being selected by the Kraken from the Winnipeg Jets, where he was a part of a dominant third-line for the past couple of seasons. It hasn’t gone as planned for the Wisconsin native since arriving in Seattle and so far in 19 games, he’s scored twice and tallied six points. Regardless of his drop-off this season, the Penguins could use Appleton to create some more depth for their bottom-six, and considering the injuries and COVID absences, this player should be on management’s radar.
Appleton plays the game hard and would fit in perfectly with head coach Mike Sullivan’s system. Last season with the Jets, he recorded 25 points in 56 games including 61 hits and 22 blocked shots. He’s the type of grinder that can impact a playoff game with his work ethic. A third line of Jeff Carter, Brock McGinn, and Appleton would be fun to watch.
The Penguins will be in a tough spot to acquire Appleton as there’s expected to be a ton of interest if he is indeed made available for trade. The Boston Bruins are one team that’s been linked to him in the past. Pens fans should hope it doesn’t turn into a bidding war because there’s no need to overpay here.
The captain of the Kraken isn’t expected to last one full season in Seattle. There have been rumblings already about potential trades either back to the Calgary Flames or to the New York Rangers, and things could certainly get interesting here. Giordano holds a no-trade clause that includes 19 teams that have made his approved list. It’s likely that a team like the Penguins is on the good side of this list.
In his first season in Seattle, the veteran defenseman has recorded 11 points in 27 games. He’s still playing a ton of minutes, including almost 25 minutes in his last game. Giordano is a gamer and can play in all situations. He’s a proven leader who has almost 1000 games of NHL experience.
The Kraken defenseman would be a huge upgrade for the Penguins over either Michael Matheson or Marcus Pettersson, and considering he’s a pending free agent, moving either of those players would give Pittsburgh a ton of financial flexibility moving forward and wouldn’t hurt their current roster. Matheson is signed through the 2025-26 season at $4.87 million per season. Pettersson on the other hand will make $4.02 million through the 2024-25 season. With the contract extensions needed after this season for Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Bryan Rust, getting one of those contracts off the books could pay huge dividends next summer.
One of the most experienced selections by the Kraken, Jarnkrok would be a nice addition for the Penguins. Someone who is versatile to play down the middle or on the wing can certainly help the flexibility of your lineup. So far in 22 games, the pending free agent has recorded 10 points.
Jarnkrok has 63 career Stanley Cup Playoff games under his belt and would surely love another chance at a Cup run with the Penguins this season. The long-time Nashville Predators forward can play on both the power play and penalty kill and would be a great weapon to add for coach Sullivan. He’s scored in his last two games and appears to be getting hot just as the trade market is heating up.
Making only $2 million and with the option of some salary retention, Jarnkrok carries a contract that could be worked in by the cash-strapped Penguins. The retention may cost Pittsburgh a slightly better prospect in the deal but when you’re going for another Stanley Cup, those are the types of dilemmas you have to face head on.
The Penguins are getting healthy as 2022 kicks off and the second half of the season is going to be fun to watch. Management continues to work the phones and while they have already pulled off one trade, at least one more is expected before the late March deadline. These three Kraken players would all be nice additions, so let’s see if Ron Hextall, Brian Burke, and Ron Francis can kick start a group chat.
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Shane’s been a part of The Hockey Writers team since 2020, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor, his versatile perspective on game results and everything off the ice produces diverse content. You can also find him on the Maple Leafs Lounge podcast with Peter Baracchini and Alex Hobson. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween