It was only a matter of time. From the moment the Seattle Kraken officially became the NHL’s 32nd team almost two weeks ago, we knew this news was on the horizon. Now the Kraken have signed their first player in franchise history, agreeing to a three-year entry-level deal with 21-year-old center Luke Henman.
Henman has played the last four full seasons (plus a portion of 2016-17) with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he has also served as captain the last two years. He has put up impressive numbers in that league, and during his captaincy has been better than a point-per-game player.
Henman was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft but did not get signed, becoming an unrestricted free agent. He wasn’t a particularly big guy when he was drafted — Francis referred to him as “slight” when he addressed the media on Wednesday — but Henman has since filled out a bit and is now officially listed at 172 pounds.
Regardless of if he ever cracks the NHL roster for the Kraken, Henman will always be remembered as the franchise’s first player. As such, the team needed a guy with the pedigree to handle the additional spotlight that goes with that distinction.
“I’m a pretty passionate guy about hockey,” Henman, who comes across as affable and polished, said Wednesday. “You know, there’s a few morals that I live by. Being a hockey player is just to compete hard every day and be a good teammate and be a likeable person. If you can do that, good things will happen.”
Francis also shared that additional weight was placed on finding the right guy to shoulder the extra attention.
“I think that’s important in all our players. We’ve done it in the past when I’ve worked with other organizations, and to me character is a big part of who you want in your organization,” Francis said. “It’s always easy when things are going well, but when things are tough, it’s the guys with character that are able to pull you out of those tough situations. The fact that he was a captain for a couple years, and his leadership skills sort of bear that out, there’s no doubt that was a big part of our decision making.”
Henman, a Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native, notched a few beauties in his junior career.
The QMJHL also put out a pretty great video in March centering on Henman’s game-day routine. In it, Henman’s Armada teammates and coaches speak very highly of him as both a player and as a human being.
This is only a first step for Seattle, but it’s an important one. Francis and his scouting staff needed to get not just the right player, but the right person to be remembered as the first-ever Kraken.
Early indications are that the team has nailed it with Henman.
The Armada are in the midst of a five-game quarterfinal playoff series with the Victoriaville Tigres and currently trail 2-1. The remaining games of the series can be watched via the Canadian Hockey League’s streaming service, CHL TV.
Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email firstname.lastname@example.org.