The Seattle Kraken officially added a player back into the fold Monday and lost another one to a waiver claim. Daniel Sprong, who was in camp on a professional try-out, accepted a two-way deal worth $750,000 at the NHL level or $325,000 at the AHL level. Meanwhile, netminder Magnus Hellberg—placed on waivers Sunday—was snatched up by the Ottawa Senators, thinning out Seattle’s goalie depth chart.
Daniel Sprong signs
Sprong has had an outstanding training camp. He was the best player in an intrasquad scrimmage on one of the first couple days of practice, and he scored on a wicked one-timer in Seattle’s Sept. 27 preseason game against the Flames.
Sprong is a goal scorer with blazing speed and a cannon of a shot. He joined the Kraken at the NHL Trade Deadline last season, in the deal that sent Marcus Johansson to the Washington Capitals, and scored six goals in the 16 games he played for Seattle down the stretch. But even as he was showing offensive prowess, we could tell from how coach Dave Hakstol talked about Sprong that the team thought he needed to show more at the defensive end of the ice.
Sprong, then a restricted free agent, was not tendered a qualifying offer after the 2021-22 season. That made him an unrestricted free agent, and he found himself without a contract as the offseason was winding down.
On Saturday, Sprong said free agency was a “wake-up call” for him, which ended with him coming back to Kraken camp on a PTO and fighting for a contract.
Sprong’s two-way play has always been the knock against him, but after he scored against the Flames this preseason, Hakstol made it clear he liked what he had been seeing from the winger. “I thought he played his ass off tonight,” Hakstol said after that game. “He played hard, and that’s what we want him to keep doing. He’s done that every day, and he’s just got to continue to do that in all three zones.”
How Sprong fits (or doesn’t?)
Now that he is under contract, it will be interesting to see how Seattle proceeds with Sprong. There is no obvious spot for him on the NHL roster, and although he will get a lower salary if he plays for the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds, he will have to clear waivers to get there.
We think he would clear, because if a general manager out there wanted Sprong, that GM could have signed him at any point during his PTO. But, if Sprong does get claimed, then so be it, since Seattle clearly hadn’t factored him into the plans for the NHL roster coming into camp. That would also likely be a welcome outcome for the player, as he would get another shot at the NHL level.
Regardless of how it shakes out, this is a low-risk deal for the Kraken organization that should minimally provide a top forward at the AHL level and potentially some depth scoring punch at the NHL level.
Magnus Hellberg claimed by Senators
From a goalie gear perspective, we were devastated to learn Hellberg, placed on waivers Sunday with the intention of sending him to Coachella Valley, was claimed by the Ottawa Senators. Hellberg had one of the most unique setups we’ve ever seen, and tragically, we only got to see his Brian’s gear in preseason game action one time.
The Senators snagged Hellberg because their newly acquired starter, Cam Talbot, has gone on the shelf for five to seven weeks with an upper-body injury. So, it appears Hellberg will share the net there with fellow Swede Anton Forsberg until Talbot comes back.
Kraken fans should monitor what happens with Ottawa’s goalies when Talbot returns, because it would seem likely that Hellberg would go back on waivers at that time. If that happens and no other team claims him, Seattle could get Hellberg back and put him right into the AHL without having to put him back on waivers. That is how Seattle claimed and then lost Alex Barré-Boulet and Austin Czarnik last season, and lost but recovered Dennis Cholowski.
So, perhaps Hellberg shouldn’t retire his Kraken gear just yet.
The claiming of Hellberg makes us even more curious to see what will happen if/when Seattle tries to send Joey Daccord down to the AHL. He too will have to clear waivers, and we can’t help wondering if Ottawa would have grabbed him instead of Hellberg, had he been available. Hellberg is the second goalie claimed this preseason after Jonas Johansson went to Arizona, so there does seem to be some residual demand for goalie help as teams look to shore up the position.
Seattle is now down to Philipp Grubauer, Martin Jones, Daccord, and Callum Booth as its options to play for the Kraken and the Firebirds. If Daccord gets claimed, the Kraken will need to find some additional goalie help of their own.
Kole Lind and Andrew Poturalski clear waivers, more cuts coming
Including Hellberg, the Kraken placed 10 players on waivers Sunday. Of that group, we were most concerned about Kole Lind and Andrew Poturalski getting claimed by another NHL team, but both players cleared Monday and were assigned to Coachella Valley.
Lind had a good showing with the Kraken at the end of last season, and Poturalski has been a prolific scorer at the AHL level but has never gotten much of a chance in the NHL.
On Lind, Hakstol said the first couple days of his training camp weren’t his best, but he improved toward the end of his time. The message from Hakstol to Lind is that he needs to work on “solidifying his game and being the very best at what he does and doing that consistently.”
After the cuts, the Kraken have 29 players remaining in camp and will need to trim down to 23 players before the regular season gets underway.
Those left on the roster are in Alberta this week for a team-building trip bookended between Monday’s preseason game against the Calgary Flames and Friday’s preseason finale against the Edmonton Oilers.