The Seattle Kraken announced Friday that they had extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents Will Borgen, Vince Dunn, Cale Fleury, and Kole Lind. This means those four players will most likely be back with the organization for the 2023-24 season, barring trades. Forwards Daniel Sprong and Morgan Geekie did not receive QO’s, so those two players are now unrestricted free agents and can sign with any team starting Saturday.

How qualifying offers work

As a refresher on how these qualifying offers work, players that do not meet the requirements of minimum age (27) or years of pro experience (this varies depending on how old they were when they signed their first contract) are not yet eligible to become unrestricted free agents. Instead, when their contracts end, they become restricted free agents.

If the team extends the RFA a qualifying offer by the deadline (this year’s deadline was June 30), the team retains exclusive negotiating rights with that player. Minimum qualifying offers range from 100 percent to 110 percent of the player’s previous annual salary depending on how big that salary was.

Things get sticky, though, when RFA’s have arbitration rights, which Sprong, Geekie, Borgen, Dunn, Fleury, and Lind all had. Arbitration rights mean that—after the QO is tendered—if the team and player can’t come to an agreement on a contract extension, either side can request an arbitration hearing. If it gets to a hearing, a neutral arbitrator listens to the cases of the team and the player and awards a one-year contract based on the data that gets presented.  

Why Daniel Sprong didn’t get qualified

We have been predicting for some time that Daniel Sprong would not be qualified by the Kraken. Sure enough, the team confirmed that he had not been tendered an offer Friday, making him free to sign elsewhere for the second offseason in a row.

The issue with Sprong was not so much that he wasn’t valuable for the Kraken—he certainly was, potting 21 goals and adding 25 assists in a fourth-line role this season—but more that he had arbitration rights that could have resulted in a bigger payday for next season than Seattle was willing to give. By having such a productive season offensively, Sprong would have commanded a huge pay increase over the league minimum $750,000 he made in 2022-23.

Clearly, the Kraken weren’t willing to commit a big chunk of cap space to Sprong, who continues to be viewed around the league as a one-way player. We do not think it would have been a stretch for an arbitrator to grant something north of $2 million (or even $3 million?) to a player that just scored 20+ goals.  

While this appears to be the end of the road for Sprong as a Kraken, you never know what might happen in the offseason. We expected Sprong and Ryan Donato to leave the organization after last season when neither was qualified before the deadline. But Donato ended up getting re-signed, and Sprong returned to Kraken training camp on a professional tryout after coming up empty on the free agent market. Sprong eventually earned a two-way contract, made the NHL roster out of camp, and went on to have a mostly storybook season for Seattle.

If this is the end for Sprong in Seattle, we at Sound Of Hockey will be sad to see him go. Aside from the fascinating storylines he provided us this season, he always had plenty of time for us in the dressing room and loved chatting about the Dutch national soccer team and Formula 1. For his sake, we hope he lands a big-money contract this offseason.

Why Morgan Geekie didn’t get qualified

We knew it was a possibility, but the decision to cut Geekie loose surprised us more than the decision on Sprong. Though we wouldn’t have anticipated as big of a percentage pay raise for Geekie this offseason, he was making $1.4 million, so the Kraken would have needed to offer him at least that. He too had arbitration rights, which surely made general manager Ron Francis second guess qualifying him.

Morgan Geekie was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Kraken, making him an unrestricted free agent. (Photo/Brian Liesse)

Our theory on the Geekie decision is that the Kraken roster was relatively full entering the offseason. After taking a huge step in 2022-23, we wondered how the team could get better without much roster flexibility. By letting Sprong and Geekie sign elsewhere, it opens two forward spots (three if you count unrestricted free agent Donato also likely to leave).

This gives Seattle more flexibility to add players via free agency or trade. Now, if Seattle can bring in more talented forwards to play at the top of the lineup, they could turn into an even deeper group than what they had in 2022-23.

Like with Sprong, we hesitate to say this is the end of Geekie’s tenure in Seattle. If he doesn’t find what he’s looking for on the open market, we wouldn’t be shocked to see the Kraken bring him back, especially after he showed good versatility later in the season. Also similar to Sprong, on a personal note, we would be disappointed to see Geekie leave. From our viewpoint, he was the funniest guy in the dressing room and was always open and honest; a joy to cover. You can’t out-pizza the hut.

The qualifying offer is the starting point

From here, the players that received qualifying offers have the option to simply accept the offer and return on a one-year deal. They also can continue negotiating a new contract with the team for longer term, more money, or both.

If the sides can’t come to an agreement on a new deal, and since all the RFA’s mentioned have arbitration rights, then either the team or the player can request an arbitration hearing. Even if a hearing is requested, most contracts typically get settled before it gets that far.

Dunn’s contract is certainly one worth keeping an eye on. The Kraken have been clear they hope to re-sign their top offensive defenseman to a long-term contract, and Dunn has shown a desire to stay in Seattle.

Darren Brown

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at and the host of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is a member of the PHWA and is also usually SOH’s Twitter intern (but please pretend you don’t know that). Follow him @DarrenFunBrown and @sound_hockey or email

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