Seattle Kraken Have 3 Clear Priorities In The 2023 Offseason

By all available measures, the Seattle Kraken enjoyed an overwhelmingly successful 2022-23 season. After a trying inaugural campaign in which the Kraken finished 30th overall with 60 points in the standings, they vaulted into the playoffs on the back of a 40-point turnaround, one of the single-season improvements in NHL history.

As a result, expectations will be higher for the Kraken heading into 2023-24. There seems to be very little that the Kraken’s front office can do to maintain that forward momentum, but climbing up in the Pacific Division standings or progressing beyond the second round of the playoffs are clear objectives.

Related: Seattle Kraken 2022-2023 Season Review – A Step Towards The Stanley Cup

Beyond those goals, let’s dive into three of the Kraken’s biggest offseason priorities as they hope to move one step closer to their ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

Priority #1: Sign Vince Dunn to Contract Extension

As the Seattle Kraken head into the 2023 NHL offseason, their top priority should be inking a contract extension for defenseman Vince Dunn, fresh off of a dark horse Norris Trophy-worthy campaign. Since being selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft, Dunn has quickly established himself as a key contributor on the team’s blue line. His smooth skating, offensive skills, and strong defensive instincts have made him an integral part of the Kraken’s defensive core.

 Though Dunn’s expiry status as a restricted free agent (RFA) gives the Kraken more leverage, the 26-year-old blueliner can rightfully command a hefty deal. He finished tenth in goals (14), assists (50), and points (64) among all defensemen while sitting second at the position in even-strength scoring (49 points). His situation is a unique one, but the fact that he is eligible for arbitration could force the Kraken to agree to a larger contract than they would otherwise be comfortable with.

Signing Dunn to a contract extension would solidify his long-term commitment to the team. With his (relative) youth and potential for further development, Dunn is an asset for the Kraken’s future success. He should still perform at his peak capabilities for several more seasons as the team adds younger reinforcements around him as he becomes the greybeard of the blueline. 

Additionally, re-signing Dunn would send a positive message to the rest of the roster and the Seattle fan base. It would demonstrate the Kraken’s commitment to keeping key players in the organization and fostering a winning culture. His breakout season represents what the Kraken are all about, and doubling down on those positive vibes can only lead to good things.

Priority #2: Acquire More Cheap, Undervalued Gems 

In their first two years of existence, the Kraken have demonstrated a keen eye for talent by uncovering undervalued players and providing them with greater opportunities to thrive. Acquiring diminished assets often comes at a more reasonable cost, allowing the team to allocate resources effectively and potentially secure additional talent in other areas. This approach proved to be a winning strategy this season and one that the team should continue to embrace. 

By giving these players a bigger opportunity, the Kraken can tap into their untapped potential and extract maximum value. When players are provided with increased ice time, responsibility, and a defined role within the team, they often flourish and exceed expectations. It’s an ethos that has defined the Kraken’s roster-building to date and one that looks to be continued for the foreseeable future.

Although the nature of the expansion draft means that most of the Kraken roster joined the organization as a castoff, three players exemplify this trend of finding underrated talents.

Dunn was thrust into a top-pairing role after being a depth piece with the St. Louis Blues and set career-highs in multiple statistical categories. Winger Daniel Sprong has already had a journeyman career despite only recently turning 26 and was one of the league’s most productive scorers per-60-minutes. Eeli Tolvanen – a former first-round pick of the Nashville Predators – was scooped off waivers and scored at a 27-goal pace after joining the Kraken.

The success stories serve as a testament to the potential rewards of finding and believing in undervalued players. By continuing to identify and invest in such talent, the Kraken can build a roster that is both cost-effective and highly competitive. This strategy also aligns with the team’s commitment to fostering a culture of opportunity and growth, creating an environment where players can thrive and contribute to the Kraken’s long-term success.

Priority #3: Begin Transitioning NHL Roster Towards Youth

As the Kraken look ahead to the 2023-24 season and beyond, one facet of the roster they need to address is transitioning to a younger core of players. While the experience, leadership, and other various intangibles from veteran contributors are valuable, it’s important to maintain a balance and infuse the roster with youth to further the team’s competitive longevity. 

A significant portion of the Kraken’s key contributors are 30 years of age or older, indicating the need to start shifting gears if they hope to ensure a sustainable future. 

Of the 14 NHL skaters currently signed through the 2023-24 season, 10 are aged 28 or older, with all four defensemen under contract being older than 30. Though that still leaves around five or six roster spots for skaters, including healthy scratches, the team’s age profile undoubtedly skews towards the more experienced. Center Matty Beniers (age 20) was the only Kraken skater under the age of 26 within the team’s 10 most utilized skaters by average time on ice.

There’s nothing inherently wrong about leaning heavily on an older roster in any given season, but teams must remember that this leaves them more exposed to age-related decline. Luckily, the Kraken possess one of the top up-and-coming prospect pools in the league, so a foundation of youth is being put into place.

Transitioning to a younger core also provides the opportunity for these players to learn from seasoned veterans, absorbing their knowledge and leadership qualities. This mentorship dynamic can help accelerate the development of younger prospects while also insulating them from top competition as they get accustomed to NHL competition.  

By kickstarting and carefully managing the transition to a younger core, the Kraken can initiate a seamless succession plan and position themselves for sustained competitiveness in a league increasingly owned by young stars.

Seattle Kraken Future is Bright

Despite the team’s disappointing end to the season at the hands of the Dallas Stars, the short- and long-term future of the Kraken is undoubtedly bright. As the newest addition to the NHL fraternity, the Kraken have already laid a solid foundation for success, blending experienced veterans and promising young talent.

The Kraken’s management group has demonstrated a keen eye for procuring undervalued talent and putting them in a favorable environment. In a league ruled by a salary cap, finding bargains at all positions is a key factor in ensuring sustained success.

Additionally, the raucous support from the Seattle community has been overwhelming. Hockey fans in the Pacific Northwest have eagerly embraced the Kraken, showcasing their passion and enthusiasm. The dedicated fan base has fostered a frenzied atmosphere in home games and looks to be rewarded with a competitive on-ice product out of the gates.

With a steady management team, a roster of hard-working talent, a passionate fan base, and a growing prospect pool, the Kraken have all the ingredients necessary to become a perennial contender in the NHL. Let’s see what 2023-24 has in store.

Data courtesy of Hockey ReferenceNatural 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.