The Seattle Kraken are doing whatever they can to hit the ice running. The NHL season gets underway on October 12, running through next June, and Seattle is expected to play on the first day. The 32nd team in the league, and its most recent expansion team, the Kraken will face another recent addition, the Vegas Golden Knights. As Seattle prepares for the game, it has made a few picks it hopes will bring it glory in its inaugural year.
Alexander True Finds a Home
The Kraken signed depth forward Alexander True to a one-year, two-way contract this past Wednesday. As a restricted free agent, he was picked up from the San Jose Sharks in the expansion draft, and the 6’7″ center will earn $700,000 through his new contract. He participated in seven NHL games with the Sharks last year and is looking for more ice time with the Kraken.
True divided his time between the Sharks and the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda over the last two seasons. In 19 career NHL games, he has five assists and, in 203 AHL games across a total of four seasons, he scored 59 goals and picked up 128 points. Originally hailing from Denmark, much of last season’s time was spent with the Barracuda, where the 24-year-old tied for third in goals and assists.
Connor Carrick Wants To Settle Down
Connor Carrick has played for four teams since entering the NHL seven years ago and the journeyman defender wants to settle down. Now heading to his fifth team, the Washington Capitals got him started with the 2012 Draft and he agreed to a free agent deal with the Seattle Kraken this past Wednesday in a deal reportedly worth $800,000 for one year. Carrick wants to see that turn into something more permanent and is going to do what he can to set himself apart this season.
Carrick was drafted by the Caps in 2012 and played 37 games for the team at the NHL level before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016. He then spent most of his time with the Leafs, scoring a goal with the club and making a playoff run with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Marlies. Carrick also played for the Dallas Stars and the New Jersey Devils before becoming a free agent this summer.
New Season, New NHL Lineups
Despite not having yet played a single NHL game, the Kraken are expected to produce great things. At no other time in the NHL’s history has a new team had the bar set so high. Generally, new teams have trouble forming talented squads and making top draft picks in their inaugural years. However, all that changed when the Golden Knights entered the league in 2017-18 and now, expansion teams are popular targets, especially for NHL sports betting punters.
With new expansion rules being implemented shortly before their entrance, the Golden Knights started strong. Those same rules were in place for the Kraken’s expansion draft, and teams have learned a lot these past couple of years. They gained from the Vegas experience and there was significantly less bargaining associated with Seattle’s draft than what was seen with the Golden Knights. As a result, the Kraken should be competitors quickly in a moderately slow Pacific Division.
Hockey fans around the world saw the protected lists being submitted by NHL teams and determined that the Kraken would be able to pick up several key players immediately. However, while the team could have broken out the wallet to secure top-rated stars, they opted, instead, to draw in players they could attract for less money, but who possess a lot of potential.
Long-term Plans with Short-term Benefits
Rather than taking the large names accessible in expansion, Seattle left themselves almost $30 million in cap space in front of free agency (although that has now changed). This doesn’t include the seven leftover restricted free agents the team chose in expansion, who will each need contracts set up in front of next season. None of the cap hits will come in particularly high, however, so the group had a lot to work with.
Seattle drafted a lot of NHL-level defensemen in expansion; however, didn’t have a lot to show on offense. Jordan Eberle, Yanni Gourde, Joonas Donskoi, Brandon Tanev and Jared McCann were the greatest offensive additions in the draft. That left some doubt among fans, particularly with what will happen at center. GM Ron Francis then proceeded to sign Alexander Wennberg and Jaden Schwartz at center and wing, respectively, in free agency. The Kraken then tapped Philipp Grubauer, likely the top free-agent goalie available, which made it possible to push Vitek Vanecek out. Like a game of chess, he was then traded back to the Caps in exchange for a draft pick.
In this way, assessing the list today against what it resembled after the expansion draft, it’s obvious that more good things are coming. Cap space tumbled to the $16 million the Kraken now have accessible, and reports keep coming that the team is looking for another top-six forward to complete the strong package.