This Seattle Kraken offseason has been interestingly… UNinteresting. Fresh off a 100-point regular season, a first-round series win over the defending champion Colorado Avalanche, and a Game 7 loss to the Dallas Stars in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we kept waiting for a big move from Seattle’s front office this summer. We were expecting “Oliver Bjorkstrand for a Bag of Pucks 2.0,” but what we got was a series of under-the-radar backfilling transactions to round out the bottom of the Kraken lineup.
Despite the lack of splashy acquisitions, some finagling was done, and we really haven’t taken stock of the moves that did get made. So, let’s do that here and try to figure out how the team’s depth chart looks now that training camp is on the horizon.
What the Kraken didn’t do this offseason
A void of big moves may not end up being a bad thing. General manager Ron Francis and his staff are clearly thinking about the long-term health of the organization, while fielding a roster that can compete now.
The Kraken proved last season they have enough talent to be a playoff team (and a dangerous playoff team at that), and as our own Curtis Isacke astutely pointed out in July, they are also set up for healthy turnover in the coming years. Their existing veterans will age out, and their contracts will expire just in time for Seattle’s current prospects to become the core of the team.
All that said, we were surprised Seattle didn’t take a bigger swing at building off the momentum created in 2022-23, but maybe we shouldn’t have been. In retrospect, maybe we should have expected a relatively quiet offseason, especially considering all of the Kraken’s top-10 forwards are back (arguably 11 if you include Tye Kartye in that mix), as are seven of the eight defensemen that were with the team to end last season.
When you factor in the emergence of Eeli Tolvanen after he was claimed off waivers mid-season, plus the assumed return of Andrei Burakovsky, the 2023-24 team *should* be just as deep or slightly deeper than the 2022-23 iteration.
What the Kraken did this offseason
The offseason started with a bang, as the Kraken got a big boost to their prospect pool by selecting a whopping 10 prospects in the NHL Draft. Seattle’s draft class was led by first-round pick Eduard Sale at No. 20 overall, along with second-rounders, Carson Rehkopf (No. 50), Oscar Fisker Mølgaard (No. 52), and Lukas Dragicevic (No. 57). By all accounts, the Kraken did very well for themselves in this draft.
They then signed goaltender Joey Daccord to a new contract on June 30, confirming what everyone expected about Martin Jones’s tenure with the Kraken: that it would only last one season. Jones since signed with the Maple Leafs. Daccord, meanwhile, will have a strong chance at being the full-time backup to Philipp Grubauer this season, duking it out with Chris Driedger for the NHL spot in training camp.
When free agency opened a couple days after that, it was a slow drip for Seattle to make any moves whatsoever. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin was the lone add initially, and the Kraken watched their entire fourth line of Daniel Sprong, Morgan Geekie, and Ryan Donato leave for Detroit, Boston, and Chicago respectively, while Carson Soucy headed north to Vancouver.
In the days that followed, Seattle replaced two of their departed forwards with 38-year-old Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Spokane native, Kailer Yamamoto.
The Kraken also gave John Hayden a new one-year contract, re-upped restricted free agents, Will Borgen, Kole Lind, and Cale Fleury, and—after some delay—extended Vince Dunn on a very fair four-year, $29.4 million deal.
Finally, the Kraken signed center Devin Shore on Aug. 31 to a two-way deal, presumably to bring additional competition to camp and to provide veteran depth at both the NHL and AHL levels.
Now that the dust appears to have mostly settled on the offseason, we have a good picture of the team’s depth chart entering 2023-24. Remember, Seattle can keep three extra players on its roster, but if youngsters are slated to be healthy scratches, it may behoove the team to send them to Coachella Valley for playing time.
There are variables to consider when trying to figure out where the young forwards slot into the depth chart.
First, there still has been no official word from the team on if Shane Wright has been deemed eligible for the AHL, though we believe he has. If somehow we’re wrong on that, and the only options for him end up being NHL or OHL, then where he plays this season will be a major storyline again in training camp.
Second, although Tye Kartye was a key piece of Seattle’s success in the playoffs, he does not require waivers to get to Coachella Valley, whereas Kole Lind does require them. This may give Lind an inside shot at the NHL roster, as sending him to the Firebirds would give other teams a chance to pluck him.
It’s odd saying that, because after Seattle’s dismissal from the playoffs, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Kartye would be with the NHL team to start 2023-24. But there are only so many forward spots, both Lind and Kartye deserve a chance with the Kraken, and keeping Lind up is less risky in terms of potentially losing a valuable, young forward to a waiver claim. Kartye will have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the guy to keep out of camp to force the Kraken to expose Lind.
Of course, there’s always a chance of a longer-term injury happening in training camp, in which case this dilemma might resolve itself. Or, perhaps both Lind and Kartye beat out veteran players and stick with the team. Keep a close eye on these two players in camp.
On the back end, it will be interesting to see what happens with Jaycob Megna this next month. He was a top-four defenseman in San Jose but only got six games with the Kraken after being acquired before the trade deadline. Similarly, Cale Fleury has been stuck in the press box for two full seasons. Is this the year Seattle finally takes its chances and puts him on waivers to (hopefully) get him some playing time with the Firebirds?
Meanwhile, Ryker Evans is knocking at the door, but Dumoulin’s signing seems to have solidified the team’s six defensemen, assuming good health.
Jared McCann // Matty Beniers // Jordan Eberle
Andrei Burakovsky // Alex Wennberg // Jaden Schwartz
Oliver Bjorkstrand // Yanni Gourde // Eeli Tolvanen
Brandon Tanev // Pierre-Edouard Bellemare // Kailer Yamamoto
Vying for spots: Shane Wright, Kole Lind, Tye Kartye, Devin Shore, John Hayden
Vince Dunn // Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak // Will Borgen
Brian Dumoulin // Justin Schultz
Vying for spots: Jaycob Megna, Cale Fleury, Ryker Evans
Vying for a spot: Joey Daccord, Chris Driedger
What do you think about Seattle’s chances heading into its third season? How far can the Kraken go with this roster? Let us know in the comments.