After the hysteria of the NHL Trade Deadline subsided, the Seattle Kraken emerged as one of the busiest franchises ahead of the Monday afternoon cutoff. General manager Ron Francis sold off a number of his pending free agents for a bevy of draft picks to supplement the club’s haul of upcoming selections. It seems reality has sunk in for the organization, and they’ve pivoted towards building for the future.
Still, their activity during free agency should tell us more about their short-term aspirations, but they’re on the right track for now. With that, let’s dig into Seattle’s collection of moves from deadline day and assign a letter grade to each individual deal.
Victor Rask acquired from the Minnesota Wild (50% salary retained) for future considerations
Since being traded to Minnesota for Nino Niederreiter – who has experienced a career rejuvenation in Carolina – Victor Rask has seen his production stagnate year over year. Check the chart below for his career splits:
|Carolina Hurricanes||Minnesota Wild|
|Goals per game||0.19||0.15|
|Assists per game||0.29||0.2|
|Points per game||0.48||0.35|
Whether the decline is a factor of less talented teammates, a diminished role, or plain bad luck, Rask hasn’t been the same player that scored 48 points in the 2015-16 season. Francis obviously knows the player from his time at the helm of the Hurricanes, and he must believe he can restart Rask’s career. Even if he never approaches his once-promising potential, the 29-year-old center only costs future considerations and could take advantage of the opportunities in Seattle’s limited forward group. A legitimate, if not depreciated NHL player for nothing of substance? That’s a win in my books.
Trade Grade: B
Forward Calle Jarnkrok (50% salary retained) traded to the Calgary Flames for a 2022 second-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick, and a 2024 seventh-round pick
As a versatile utility-forward, Calle Jarnkrok stirred up much intrigue around the deadline, with any number of contenders eager to add a player of his ilk to their lineup. On top of his ability to play multiple positions and feature on the penalty kill, Jarnkrok’s offensive output (on pace for a career-high 43 points in Seattle) made him all the more appealing. A solid, yet unspectacular player is very unlikely to garner a first-round pick, but Francis did well to get the next best thing, and the Flames tacked on a couple more picks for good measure.
Trade Grade: B+
Defenseman Mark Giordano (50% salary retained) and forward Colin Blackwell traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2022 second-round pick, a 2023 second-round pick, and a 2024 third-round pick
In a vacuum, the return for the franchise’s first-ever captain and a dependable depth forward in Blackwell is solid. Three early-round picks are nothing to scoff at, but the rumored asking price of a first-round selection for Giordano makes the actual haul somewhat underwhelming in retrospect. The veteran blueliner proved that he can still anchor a second pair and brings an impressive resume to Toronto as they look to break the first-round curse. Blackwell has the potential to slide in next to either of the Matthews-Marner or Tavares-Nylander lines and operate in a grinding role.
Still, the value for both sides is relatively even, and the Kraken have to be happy with adding to their suddenly ballooning cache of draft capital. After the expansion draft debacle, getting anything of substance should be considered a win.
Trade Grade: C+
Defenseman Jeremy Lauzon traded to the Nashville Predators for a 2022 second-round pick
Of all the deals made under Francis’ direction on Monday, this one represents the best return compared to the value going out the door. Jeremy Lauzon, a former second-round pick himself, was a bit-part player for the Kraken this season. At 24 years old, there might be some untapped potential bubbling under the surface, which intrigued the Nashville Predators, but that’s a high price to pay for a defender that’s never cracked 10 points in a season so far in his NHL career. All in all, a notable return for an unproven asset.
Trade Grade: A
Forward Mason Appleton traded to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2023 fourth-round pick
After 49 games as a member of the Kraken, Mason Appleton returns to the organization where he spent the first three years of his career. Beyond fulfilling a potential desire to move back closer to home, it’s difficult to parse the reasoning for this trade or the underwhelming return. The 6-foot-2 center seemed to be a potential breakout candidate after scoring at a 36-point pace last season and remains a restricted free agent (RFA) at season’s end. A mid-round draft pick is better than nothing, but one would hope for more for a relatively young player still under team control.
Trade Grade: C
Forward Marcus Johansson (50% salary retained) traded to the Washington Capitals for forward Daniel Sprong, a 2022 fourth-round pick, and a 2023 sixth-round pick
The Kraken have the perfect opportunity to collect players looking for a fresh start and put them in a situation more suited to their strengths. Marcus Johansson offers more to a contender at the moment than he does to a rebuilding side, and receiving a project and several draft picks is good work. The cornerstone of Seattle’s return in winger Daniel Sprong presents an intriguing offensive profile. A former second-round pick with a history of scoring in the minors (44 goals in 109 AHL games) but one who has yet to break out at the NHL level.
He’s on his fourth NHL stop, so the second-chance carousel is surely slowing down. Yet, if he’s handed more plush scoring assignments on one of the Kraken’s primary scoring lines, Sprong could make good on his potential. His micro stats suggest that he’s a prolific shot generator and passer, but the volume has never been there. Since 2018-19, he’s finished chances at a 20-goal pace, so there’s some tangible evidence that an offensive talent lingers underneath the baggage. Could the Kraken unlock it?
Trade Grade: B+
Francis Stocks Draft Pick Cupboard At Deadline
Although Francis kicked off his tenure at the helm of the Kraken with a dud of an expansion draft, his performance at the trade deadline – albeit still somewhat underwhelming – represents a more fruitful approach to team building. Seattle owns 12 picks in the first three rounds over the next two drafts, seven of which are in the second round. The organization still has a way to go before nudging its way into the NHL’s elite, but it is in a much healthier position than it was prior to Monday afternoon.
Even so, stockpiling draft picks is the easy part; it’s what you do with them that counts. Although his approach to trades is conservative and uninspiring, Francis’ record with drafting is much more positive. Can he replicate his success with the Kraken? Only time will tell.