Here’s the in’s and out’s for the Seattle Kraken on NHL “free agent frenzy” day.
Out goes 28-year-old 3rd-pair defenseman Carson Soucy as an unrestricted free agent (UFA) to the Vancouver Canucks where he signed a three-year deal for $3.25-million per season. That’s $500,000 more than he made in Seattle and likely allows him to take on greater responsibilities.
“When you get to unrestricted free agency, you’ve earned that right to go test the market, and we’re happy for him, he got a three year deal at a good number,” Kraken GM Ron Francis pointed out to the media. “So hopefully it works out well for him, other than the nights we’re playing him of course,” he added to laughs.
Francis had his replacement in mind. Well, maybe two.
In comes 31-year-old, two-time Stanley Cup champion Brian Dumoulin, a lefty replacing a lefty. He won Cups with the only NHL team he’s played for, the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017. He was drafted in 2009 by the Carolina Hurricanes when Francis was working in player development for the club. His rights were traded north in the deal that sent Jordan Staal to the Canes in the summer of 2012.
“Doomo” signed for two years at $3.15-million per season, $400,000 more than Soucy was making.
The other consideration is the development of feisty left-shot defense prospect Ryker Evans, who made substantial progress playing for the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the American Hockey League this season.
“We’ve got a pretty talented young player in Ryker Evans, we think (he’s) pushing, so it’s important when we build this thing, that we’re not blocking Ryker moving forward,” Francis said. “So two years for us on the Dumoulin thing was nice for us and (Evans’s future) was also a nice key in that deal as well.”
Bye Bye Kraken 4th-Line
Three out moves:
Daniel Sprong signed a $2-million contract for one season with the Detroit Red Wings, a nice boost after making the Kraken on a Professional Try-Out (PTO) last season and playing for the minimum. He racked up 21 goals and 25 assists, both easily career bests.
All around good guy Ryan Donato also cashed-in on a raise as a UFA. Up from $1.2-million in Seattle to $2-million each for two seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s his 5th NHL team. The 27-year-old, left-shot forward has 325 regular season games under his belt. He had 58 points in 145 of those matches with the Kraken.
“He actually called shortly after just to thank us in the organization for everything,” Francis shared. “Just a class kid, true professional, so happy for him.”
Morgan Geekie departed and got locked up first on Saturday by the Boston Bruins for the same money; $2-million each for two.
“(For) Morgan, we did make what I thought was a pretty fair offer,” Francis said. “It didn’t work out and he has the right once we didn’t qualify him to go elsewhere and look, and that’s what he did and we wish him the best.”
Both Geekie and Sprong were restricted free agents (RFA) with arbitration rights, meaning had the Kraken made them the minimum qualifying offers, the players could have elected for salary arbitration hearings. Players and teams rarely actually reach the hearing stage; deals are struck in advance or often at the last minute, but usually for more than a team is willing to spend.
That would have been the case for the Kraken. Instead, without the qualifying offer tendered, the skaters get the benefit of automatically becoming UFA’s.
The Kraken served up contracts to three players who most likely won’t see the NHL this season. Well, maybe one will.
Big forward John Hayden is back and earned a one-year $775,000 deal. He’s played 247 NHL games including seven for the Kraken last season. For Seattle he had two goals and a fight, a battle on March 18th that ended with a serious ankle injury when he fell awkwardly to the ice. He returned in time to play ten Calder Cup playoff games with the Firebirds.
The Kraken organization added free agent forward Marian Studenic, who had 48 points for the Dallas Stars AHL affiliate last season.
Seattle also inked defenseman Jimmy Schuldt, a lefty who played for the Firebirds this past season. Both he and Studenic picked up single year contracts.
— According to Cap Friendly, at the conclusion of the free agent frenzy around the NHL, 166 new deals were signed with a total contract value of more than $646-million.