Seattle Kraken – Dunn Contract Fair For Both Sides

Nearly two months into the 2023 NHL offseason, the Seattle Kraken finally took care of their most pressing bit of business. 26-year-old defenseman Vince Dunn and the Kraken agreed to a four-year, $29.4 million contract after the restricted free agent (RFA) filed for arbitration. The deal is worth $7.35 million annually (AAV) and carries a full (2024-25) and modified no-trade clause (16 team list in 2025-26 and 2026-27) in the final three years of the pact.

For an organization looking to build on the resounding success of the 2022-23 season in which the Kraken qualified for the postseason and reached the second round, locking down arguably their most important player was crucial for the franchise’s long-term future.

Let’s dive into how Dunn has performed to this point, why his play warranted such a rich deal, and how it compares to other contracts around the NHL.

Dunn Submitted Darkhorse Norris Trophy Season

After enjoying a fairly successful first season with the Kraken (seven goals and 35 points in 73 games), Dunn exploded in 2022-23 while playing alongside an improved supporting cast of forwards.

Dunn ranked 10th among all NHL defensemen in goals (14), assists (50), and points (64) but, most impressively, finished second in even-strength scoring (49 points) behind only eventual Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Dunn played heavy minutes (22nd by average time on ice in all situations) but made efficient use of his deployment, particularly at 5-on-5, where he played just over 19 minutes a night (11th in the NHL).

Related: Seattle Kraken Should Target These 3 Unsigned Free Agents

More impressive than Dunn’s offensive totals was his ability to control play for the Kraken. When he took to the ice, Seattle held 54.6% of all shots (26th), 53.8% of expected goals (40th), and 53.7% of scoring chances (50th), with all ranks among defensemen who played at least 300 minutes at 5-on-5 last season.

Those results weren’t career highs for Dunn, but they were the highest that he’s posted while taking on such a heavy workload which bodes well that he can maintain those numbers in the future.

From a micro-stat standpoint, Corey Sznajder’s tracking data also held Dunn in a favorable light. His numbers say he didn’t just benefit from the Kraken’s sky-high shooting percentage, but he drove offense and created shots and chances for his teammates, particularly off the rush.

Interestingly, Dunn also posted strong zone entry defense numbers, consistently stopping opponents from entering the zone despite not being very aggressive or physically imposing. His positioning and stick work are underrated and were a significant factor in the Kraken’s ability to turn defense into offense. 

Dunn is by no means the best defenseman in the NHL, but his play, combined with his contract, provides great value and allow the Kraken to build an even better team around him.

Dunn Contract One of the Best Among NHL Defensemen

Dunn’s contract might offer some sticker shock to those who believe his 2022-23 campaign was a flash in the pan, especially since he nearly doubled his previous career high in scoring. Anyone who has followed Dunn knows he’s also shown flashes of his potential; he just didn’t have the opportunity or the confidence of his previous coaches. Considering all the factors, his new deal greatly benefits himself and the Kraken.

At $7.35 million, Dunn’s AAV ranks 25th among NHL defensemen for the 2023-24 season, sandwiched between Morgan Rielly ($7.5 million) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($7 million). What sets him apart from the rest of the crowd is that his deal only runs until he’s 30, giving the Kraken the entirety of his prime at a palatable number at a time when the NHL’s salary cap is set to jump over the next few seasons.

Compare that term to those given to the likes of Seth Jones and Darnell Nurse, who are set to earn $9.5 and $9.25 million per year, respectively, until the 2029-30 season when they are in their mid-30s. Neither defender is worth anywhere near that, and at least Dunn’s deal undercuts some of the risks by only committing to his late-20s.

A reminder that Dunn finished top 10 in the major offensive categories among all defensemen last season, posted strong possession numbers while leading the Kraken in ice time, and was a crucial part of their transition game.

General manager Ron Francis took a swing based on Dunn’s long-awaited breakout campaign, but he’s been this player for the last two seasons. Sometimes you have to gamble and lock in a player early, which is a sound bet for the Kraken to make.

Dunn, Kraken Set Up for Long-Term Success

All things considered, both parties can feel comfortable thinking that they secured fair value with Dunn’s extension. For the Kraken, acquiring a talented defenseman in their prime at a reasonable price point provides a great deal of on-ice value and surplus value when it comes to cap allocation. 

For Dunn, the new deal represents the culmination of years of development. Once thought to be a gifted but inconsistent offensive blueliner, Dunn has morphed into a fully rounded rearguard capable of making a sizable impact at both ends of the ice. He also gets the opportunity to cash in again at age 30, when the salary cap will have risen significantly.

Fostering a mutually beneficial relationship bodes well for both the future of the team and Dunn’s place in the league’s hierarchy. If he takes another step in his on-ice progression, this deal could quickly be one of the NHL’s best.

Data courtesy of AllThreeZonesNatural Stat Trick, and the NHL.

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About Marko Zlomislic 100 Articles
Marko is an aspiring sportswriter with a passion for crafting stories while using a combination of the eye-test and (shudder) analytics, which is complemented by an academic background in criminology and political science. When not covering the Seattle Kraken for Oregon Sports News, Marko can also be found pouring countless hours into various sports video games franchises, indulging in science fiction novels, and taking long runs around his neighbourhood. You can yell at him by following him on Twitter or via email at He also regularly produces content for The Hockey Writers.