After a hopeful and eventful summer, the Seattle Kraken have performed nowhere near the preseason expectations we set for them in October. They’re performing like a typical expansion team, sitting in the basement of the Pacific Division with a measly thirty-seven points in fifty-five games, good for 30th in overall league standings. With the team so far out of playoff contention already, we find it very likely that the Kraken are active during this deadline season, perhaps looking to ship out their pending unrestricted free agents. General Manager Ron Francis made cap space a priority in the expansion draft, contrary to the Vegas strategy where they were a cap team from the start. If they’re able to stockpile futures at this deadline and earn a top-two selection in a solid 2022 entry draft, they may have one of the best young center duos in the league in Shane Wright/Logan Cooley and 2021 2nd overall pick Matthew Beniers, as well as nearly twenty-eight million dollars in cap space. With that being said, let us discuss who Seattle could potentially offer to teams in the next several weeks leading up to deadline day.
The franchise’s first and only captain is Seattle’s best trade chip this deadline season, as teams definitely have interest in the former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman according to multiple insiders. He’s thirty-eight years old, making $6.7 million until the conclusion of this season, making salary retention a likely avenue to facilitate a deal to a contender. Giordano also has a modified no-trade clause, meaning he can list nineteen teams he’d be willing to accept a trade to. Offensively, Mark Giordano currently registering similar production to his final season in Calgary during the 2020-21 year, as he’s scored six goals with seventeen assists for twenty-three points in forty-nine games with the Kraken to this point. He’s currently averaging 21.3 minutes per game of ice-time, his lowest since 2009-10 (20.50), and yet still has the second-highest average TOI on the team, trailing only fellow defenseman Adam Larsson’s 21.58. AB-wise, Giordano’s midseason individual AB score of -8.57 is the worst individual score recorded of his career, as he’s been a solid, positive AB performer (+2-3 score or higher) in six of his thirteen seasons of data. A change of scenery is exactly what Giordano needs in our opinion, and we could see the Kraken getting a top-64 draft pick and a prospect in exchange for his services. Depending on what teams get for other defensemen on the market, that price could increase, however, we’d be very surprised if Seattle gained a first-round pick in this deal. With that being said, we believe without question, even at thirty-eight, that Giordano can still contribute to a contending team in a slightly reduced role.
One of our favorite expansion draft selections finds his way on the trade block in former Nashville Predator Calle Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok is currently Seattle’s sixth-leading scorer with twenty-two points (ten goals plus twelve assists) in forty-three games played with the Kraken this season. He’s on a reasonable contract (2 million for the remainder of this season) at thirty years old and is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season. Like Giordano and several other Kraken players, his -2.75 midseason AB score is the worst of his career to date, as Jarnkrok specifically has never registered a negative score in the eight years of data we have on him. He’s even coming off the second-best score of his career (+7.73) in 2020-21 with the Nashville Predators. This is a consistently good AB player on a cheap contract who consistently registers around thirty points a season; teams should definitely be interested. We could see Seattle getting as high as a third-round pick for Jarnkrok, but we wouldn’t be shocked to see him packaged with a Giordano in a bigger deal for more assets.
There are always trade deadline deals between rebuilders and contenders involving depth pieces in exchange for late-round draft picks, which is what we see happening in the case of Marcus Johansson. With six goals and thirteen assists for nineteen points in forty-three games with the Kraken this season, he is ninth on the team in scoring. These totals are actually higher than his numbers from last season with the Minnesota Wild, as he recorded only fourteen points in seven fewer games played. AB wise, his -4.54 midseason score is actually his best score since 2016-17 when he registered an outstanding +15.22 with the Washington Capitals. Despite his five straight negative individual AB seasons, Johansson is still a positive career AB player with a +1.49 score in eleven seasons. Like Calle Jarnkrok, Johansson is also on a cheap contract (1.5 million) and will be an unrestricted free agent at the season’s conclusion. His ability to play center, left-wing, or right-wing would be a nice depth addition to a contending team, as he is a 0.42 PPG player in the playoffs with the Wild, Bruins, Devils, and Capitals.
Part of our new NHL General Manager study was evaluating all trades made by the seventy-six GMs in the NHL since 2007-08. When we look at Kraken GM Ron Francis’ trade history, we see that he’s acquired eight more draft picks than he’s dealt, as well as cleared over ten million dollars in cap space over the course of his deals. We project this trend will continue when he trades the players we mentioned above, and it will certainly be interesting to use this new HFFA feature more when evaluating GM decision-making in the coming weeks. Much more to come, as we anxiously await the moves the Kraken will make in their inaugural trade deadline season. Much more to come.