Seattle Kraken, Vince Dunn

Kraken: 11 Days To Vince Dunn Arbitration, What’s The Deal?

It very likely won’t come down to it, but the Seattle Kraken and top-pair lefty defenseman Vince Dunn have 12 days to get a deal done before their scheduled arbitration date on July 24th.

Kraken General Manager Ron Francis and Dunn’s agent Pat Morris will be talking a lot between now and then and it’s expected they’ll get a deal completed. It behooves the club in particular, because with the 26-year-old defenseman being just one year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility, they’d risk losing him after next season. That’s because arbitrated contracts with a player in that situation are capped at one year.

It’s a nice bit of leverage for the player and a good reason for the team to want to sweeten the pot. Dunn is entering his prime, shown by his career numbers in 2022-’23 with 64 points, 14 goals, 50 assists in 81 games played. He had seven points in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

By the way, historically, a majority of NHL players have shown the uncanny ability to put up peak numbers in the season before their contract is up.*

Kraken Comparable?

Regardless, Francis will need to decide if he wants to go long. Dunn is eligible for an eight-year deal as a returning player to the organization.

He made $4-million each of the last two seasons and should be looking at something between $7 and $8-million per year in his next deal.

Morris might be saying “Umm, keep going up.”

One comparable to keep in mind: Mikhail Sergachev in Tampa just signed an eight-year deal for $8.5-million per season. He’s a year younger than Dunn and slightly larger, but they’re both capable of playing either side of the D, they play similar minutes, even though Sergachev is considered a 2nd-pair D-man behind Victor Hedman, and they put up the identical number of points last season.

Their share of potential ice time? Both Dunn and Sergachev were at 39%, with minute munching being the key stat when determining the overall importance of a defenseman.

Their historical track record in terms of offensive output per game is similar as well.

Sergachev helped the Lightning win two Stanley Cups, Dunn helped the St. Louis Blues win one (2019) before coming to the Kraken in the expansion draft in 2021.

Bonus for both: Florida and Washington have no state income tax.

*Like Dunn, entering this contract, Sergachev put up career highs in games played, goals (tied), assists and points.

Recents:

— Future Kraken: Eduard Sale

— Kraken’s Top-3 NHL Prospects

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.
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Bane
Bane
7 months ago

The Kraken are between a rock and a hard place. $8.5m for eight years is fair for a defenseman who produced like Vince Dunn did last year, and that amount is perfectly do-able with the Kraken’s cap situation. Unfortunately, paying that to Dunn comes with enormous risks. He has only performed at that level once, and, as Rob pointed out, players usually regress after their contract year. Sure, he was absolutely a top-pairing defenseman last year, but there is a significant chance that he will not be that productive again. Also, he did not have a great post-season, but, given the two explosive teams that he was playing against, I am inclined to say that he is better than his post-season performance. You also have the problem of him being twenty-six years old, which means that he will be thirty-four when the contract is up. Defensemen are usually declining at that point, which would make him a likely buy-out candidate at that point in his career. That sucks for both him and the team. There are few conceivable scenarios where such a contract does not become an albatross at some point in the future.

On the other hand, not paying Vince Dunn is every bit as much of a gamble. Teams cling to top-pairing defensemen like lifepreservers when the ship is sinking, and there aren’t enough to go around. Getting another such player would surely come at a prohibative cost, and if Francis would be willing to pay that price he may just as well pay Dunn–a player who has already developed good chemistry with his teammates. It’s Dunn or nobody on the first pairing, so, unless Ryker Evans absolutely balls out beyond any reasonable expectations, the team would almost certainly be stuck without a suitable partner for Adam Larsson just as it is entering what looks like a wide-open window of Cup contention. In that sense, Vince Dunn is an absolutely critical component of the roster that Ron Francis has built. Francis has to pay him.