With an initial flurry of moves setting off NHL’s silly season – also known as the annual trade deadline – Monday’s 3 p.m. cutoff looms large for many of the league’s 32 clubs. The Seattle Kraken figure to be one of the most involved franchises, with nearly half of their current roster playing on expiring contracts. Unsurprisingly, the Pacific Division bottom-feeders hold a number of pieces that may be of interest to would-be Stanley Cup hopefuls. With forward Calle Jarnkrok already traded to the Calgary Flames, I’ve suggested several intriguing trade proposals which might come to fruition ahead of the deadline. Let’s dig in.
Defenseman Mark Giordano to the Boston Bruins
As a decorated veteran and still-productive option from the blueline, Mark Giordano represents the Kraken’s most valuable asset at the deadline. NHL insiders have indicated that a trade centered around the 38-year-old rearguard could garner a first-round pick in return.
Despite his rather limited postseason experience (only 23 games), his regular-season portfolio speaks for itself. He recently eclipsed 1000 games played, and his 532 total points rank 11th among active defensemen. He no longer inhabits the Norris Trophy-caliber stratosphere that he once did, but he can still thrive in the right situation.
Giordano’s 23 points in 56 games are second among Kraken blueliners (behind only Vince Dunn), and his refined hockey sense accounts for any physical regression. Tracking data collected by Corey Sznajder positions the Kraken captain as one of the league’s best defensemen in terms of turning defensive zone puck retrievals into efficient exits with possession.
Arguably, the Bruins need a second-line center more than another defender, but adding Giordano immediately fortifies their blueline. Their first pair of Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk is one of the league’s best, but the cast behind them can be suspect at times. In any case, the former Calgary Flame is a clear upgrade on either Derek Forbort or Connor Clifton, and depth at defense is crucial come the lengthy playoff grind.
The one impediment to a trade is Giordano’s $6.75 million cap hit. If both Seattle and a third party collectively retain 50% to knock the impact down below $2 million, the deal becomes more palatable. Still, Boston could throw in salary makeweights such as one of Erik Haula ($2.375 million) or Tomas Nosek ($1.75 million) to make the math work.
Defenseman Carson Soucy to the Edmonton Oilers
Although defenseman Carson Soucy still has one year remaining on his contract, his status and relatively low cap-hit ($2.75 million) could make him another interesting trade prospect. The NHL has seen players with that extra year before hitting free agency become a more valued commodity, and the same precedent applies here with Soucy.
Since firing head coach Dave Tippett, the Oilers have benefited from the strategical uplift provided by the newly promoted Jay Woodcroft. Since February 10th, Edmonton is tied for eighth by points percentage (.656), which outstrips the .557 rate they played at before the coaching change. They currently sit third in the Pacific but are within striking distance of the second-place Los Angeles Kings. As a result, a playoff spot is becoming all the more likely as Edmonton separates itself from the injury-ravaged Vegas Golden Knights.
Even so, the team has a clear hole on defense in relying on a number of one-dimensional defensemen behind thoroughbred Darnell Nurse. The 6-foot-5 Soucy solidifies their group with his responsibility and astute defensive consciousness, traits that are crucially needed on a limited Oilers’ blueline. He is particularly strong at preventing scoring chances coming directly off of zone entries, a category in which the Oilers rank pretty much average. He’s also not afraid of stepping up in the offensive zone and firing off a shot if the opportunity presents itself.
Soucy’s affordability (Kraken could even retain further salary), positional flexibility (can play either the left or right side), and defensive prowess make him the ideal trade candidate. Even with a number of worrying holes beyond their defense, Edmonton must like their chances of advancing to at least the second round of the playoffs. With the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, nothing should ever be ruled out.
Marcus Johansson to the Washington Capitals
The third and final trade on this list reunites Marcus Johansson with his old running mates in the Washington Capitals, with whom he played with from the 2010-11 to 2016-17 seasons. He’s bounced around since then (the Kraken are his fifth team since leaving D.C.) and is on the wrong side of 30, but he remains a useful playmaker and transporter of the puck.
Although the volume isn’t there, Johansson is adept at bringing the puck out of the defensive zone and into the offensive zone with possession. Washington could stand to improve on both fronts, ranking at average or below-average at facilitating clean entries and exits. He’s also the Kraken’s sixth-most productive forward with 23 points in 50 games this season and can act as a utility forward by playing anywhere across a forward line.
As both Anthony Mantha and Nicklas Backstrom have missed significant time this season, the Capitals have struggled to mine alternative sources of offense. With both forwards in the lineup, their forward group looks much more formidable and capable of tangling with the Eastern Conference heavyweights. Still, adding Johansson gives the bottom-six more punch as the Swede won’t have to grapple with other team’s strongest players.
Johansson is no longer the player who once scored 58 points in a season, but he’s an affordable option for contenders by both acquisition cost (likely a third-round pick) and cap hit ($1.5 million). At a time of year where prices are often inflated beyond reason, he’s a cost-effective choice for bargain bin shoppers.
Kraken Poised to Sell at Trade Deadline
As I explored recently, Francis and his extensive support staff should be among the busiest contingents come Monday morning. The franchise is in dire need of supplementing its prospect pool and can dangle a number of attractive assets in front of salivating contenders looking to bolster their depth. Seattle’s inaugural season has gone about as poorly as one could expect, and re-calibrating towards future contention is the ideal decision. If Francis plays his cards correctly, the Kraken could head into the 2022 and 2023 Entry Drafts with a much brighter competitive outlook.