Seattle Kraken Should Target These 3 Unsigned Free Agents

Following the initial frenzy of the NHL’s free-agent period, the Seattle Kraken are fairly set when it comes to their roster for the 2023-24 season. Other than restricted free agent defenseman Vince Dunn – whose arbitration hearing is set for July 24 – general manager Ron Francis has essentially locked in the NHL roster. 

While waving goodbye to Daniel Sprong, Carson Soucy, Martin Jones, Joonas Donskoi, and Morgan Geekie, among others, the Kraken also acquired winger Kailer Yamamoto, center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and defenseman Brian Dumoulin this offseason. It’s been a busy summer, to be sure, but there is still business to be done.

While activating injured winger Andre Burakovsky ($5.5 million cap hit) and re-signing Dunn will eat up most, if not all, of the Kraken’s current cap space (around $8 million), they can still target one of several free-agent skaters still left unsigned. Though it would almost surely have to be on a very cheap short-term deal, these three players could rebuild their value around the league in anticipation of a jump in the league’s salary cap over the next few seasons.

Tomas Tatar, Left Wing/Right Wing

2022-23 Statistics: 82 Games Played (GP) – 20 Goals (G) – 28 Assists (A) – 48 Points (PTS) – 15:07 Average Time on Ice (ATOI)

Despite a decent showing with the New Jersey Devils last season, playmaking winger Tomas Tatar finds himself without a home for the 2023-24 campaign. The 32-year-old tallied 61 points in 68 games as recently as 2019-20, but uninspiring playoff outings have likely dampened the market on an otherwise reliable offensive talent. He boasts a mere 13 points in 52 playoff games to his name, a steep decline from his regular-season rate of production.

Where Tatar can help the Kraken is in his ability to carry the puck and create chances for his teammates. According to Corey Sznajder’s tracking data, the Slovakian forward generated one of the highest rates of high-danger chance assists in the league while also being very effective at turning successful zone entries into direct scoring chances. 

While Seattle lacks an elite finisher up front, adding players capable of finding teammates in dangerous areas can help bridge the gap. By the numbers, few have done this better than Tatar, despite his diminished reputation. 

Tatar earned $4.5 million per season for the last two years, so he would have to take a significant pay cut to join the Kraken for next season.

Jesse Puljujarvi, Right Wing

2022-23 Statistics: 75 GP – 5 G – 11 A – 16 PTS – 12:14 ATOI

Few players have experienced as drastic a downward spiral as Jesse Puljujarvi, the fourth-overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. After bouncing between stints with the Edmonton Oilers and in Finland, the Oilers finally severed ties with the Finnish winger and sent him to the Carolina Hurricanes at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. He only managed three points in 24 regular-season and playoff games while only playing 12 minutes a night and was allowed to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this offseason.

To this point in his career, the 25-year-old has shown little offensively to warrant his draft pedigree and only boasts career-highs of 15 goals (2020-21) and 36 points (2021-22) to date. 

Related: What Can the Seattle Kraken Learn from the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup Win?

Though Puljujarvi has historically struggled to convert on his chances, he is an active forechecker and has demonstrated the ability to move the puck out of the defensive zone and into transition play. The Kraken rode a high-energy style to the second round of the playoffs, and inserting the 6-foot-4 forward into the lineup in a reduced role is precisely the type of move they’ve succeeded with in the past.

Puljujarvi earned $3 million last season following an arbitration filing, but there is little reason to expect him to command anywhere near as much after a dismal scoring season. If he wants to rebuild his career, Seattle is a good place to start.

Vladimir Tarasenko, Right Wing

2022-23 Statistics: 69 GP – 18 G – 32 A – 50 PTS – 16:48 ATOI

Arguably the most eligible bachelor left on the market, the 31-year-old Vladimir Tarasenko is no longer the same player who scored 37 or more goals in a season three consecutive times between 2015 and 2017, but he’s got enough firepower left in the tank that he could make a difference for a team at the right price.

Sznajder’s tracking data clearly shows that although Tarasenko is no longer as effective at moving the puck through the neutral zone due to diminished foot speed, his ability to fire off shots is still above-average. In particular, his rates of high-danger shots and shots off the rush were some of the best in the league, suggesting he’d best be utilized beside a capable playmaker and puck carrier. 

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

Tarasenko would likely see heavy powerplay usage to leverage his shooting ability and could give the Kraken another reliable scoring option alongside Jared McCann (40 goals last season), Matty Beniers (24), and Eeli Tolvanen (27-goal pace after joining Seattle).

The Kraken likely struggle to facilitate a deal worth much more than $2-3 million, so Tarasenko would have to be sold on the opportunity to put up goals in an environment where he would be one of the primary attacking options. Whether that’s enticing enough of a proposition for the veteran marksman is the question, as he likely has a number of options at a lower number than he initially anticipated.

Kraken Still Have Options in Free Agency

Even if the free agent pickings are pretty slim deep into the summer, the Kraken can still attempt to corral one of the remaining options to bolster their biggest weakness. For those left unsigned, landing somewhere on a cheap one-year deal where they can boost their scoring numbers should be the top priority. The Kraken can offer a clear path to a top-six forward spot and a slot on the primary powerplay unit, something not many other potential suitors can do at this point.

With a solid foundation of talented players, an experienced coaching staff, and a rabid fanbase behind them, the future is bright for the Kraken. They are poised to make a significant leap forward and establish themselves as formidable contenders – perhaps as soon as next season – and one of the aforementioned free agents could be the piece to push them over the edge.

Data courtesy of AllThreeZonesEvolving HockeyNatural 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.