After an expansion draft that left the hockey world in shock due to a horrendous expansion draft, Ron Francis and the Kraken made a huge splash in free agency. Is it possible this was Francis’ plan all along? Did he outsmart the system? Let’s break it down.
Ron decided to pass on one of the biggest names exposed in the expansion draft in Vladimir Tarasenko and went with promising young defenseman Vince Dunn. This would’ve been a great pick at the time if he wasn’t already so heavy on defenseman. As it turns out, it was a brilliant pick as he was able to land FA Jaden Schwartz. To steal a top 2 d-man and a top 6 forward from the St. Louis Blues, Francis nailed it. Guess he learned from Vegas who used several of their picks to gain the rights of FA. Maybe he realized Seattle isn’t Vegas, therefore, it was more of a risk to waste a pick on someone you can’t lock in. Good move, Ronnie.
However Jaden Schwartz wasn’t the only big name the Krak-heads were able to lock in. Arguably the most surprising signing in all of free agency came midway through Day 1 of FA, as they signed ex-Colorado and former Vezina Trophy finalist, Phillip Grubauer. The Kraken were already comfortable in net as they planned on having a 1a/1b goalie system with young netminders, Vitek Vanecek and Chris Dreiger. However, that could cause concern for the team as both had one good year and are young, inexperienced tendies. Now, they have a proven Number 1 goalie with veteran experience. This transaction instantly makes them a team that could contend for playoffs.
They also signed 2 other complimentary pieces to their forward group in Alexander Wennberg and Marcus Johansson. These aren’t franchise changing additions, however they will help the team’s depth. Especially when you’ve drafted a handful of players that nobody’s ever heard of.
Look at it this way, coming out of the expansion draft the biggest names on your roster were Mark Giordano, Yanni Gourde, and Jordan Eberle. It’s a start, but it’s not great with a bunch of bottom six forwards and two young unproven goalies. Adding players such as Gruuub, and Schwartzy was a must for this team, who has 9 million dollars in cap space still available. The real question is: will it be enough to be a contender right away? October couldn’t come fast enough.
Are you surprised Seattle was able to pull in high end talent, who each had offers elsewhere? If you were a player in the NHL, besides having no state tax, what would attract you to go to Seattle? It’s no Vegas, New York, or Hockey in Canada. Find out as we debate if Seattle can be a legit NHL market and franchise for both fans and players soon.