The Seattle Kraken made moves last summer signaling their intention to be a competitive team right from their first-ever game, just as the Vegas Golden Knights were in their first season. They signed Philipp Grubauer, Jaden Schwartz, and others in free agency, all with the idea of potentially being in the mix for a playoff spot in what was seen as a weak Pacific division. That didn’t happen, though, and the Kraken finished third-to-last in the entire NHL with a 27-49-6 record. The team only scored 216 goals, which ranked them fourth from last in the NHL, and had only one player cross the 50-point mark, Jared McCann, who had 50 points exactly. Some have speculated that this poor season would set the Kraken on the path of a more traditional rebuild, seeing them bottom out in the standings, chasing young, high-end talent. That doesn’t appear to be their preferred route to contention, though.
TSN’s Chris Johnston reports that the Kraken were among the teams in the mix to acquire Minnesota Wild forward Kevin Fiala “right until the end,” and that they are interested in utilizing their cap space in search of a “high-end forward” or someone who can add to their scoring depth. Johnston adds that he expects the Kraken to come forward with “big offers” for some of the top free-agent forwards should they become available on July 13th. The two biggest names currently slated to hit free agency are Filip Forsberg and Johnny Gaudreau, play-driving wingers who have scored at above a point-per-game pace. If the Kraken want one of those two players, they will undoubtedly have to beat the offers of a multitude of other suitors. Beyond just Forsberg and Gaudreau they could also target other names such as Evander Kane, Andre Burakovsky, or Ryan Strome.
Now, for some other notes concerning this offseason’s biggest storylines:
- Pierre-Luc Dubois’ name has attracted a lot of attention in the rumor mill recently, as his desire to test free agency in 2024 has become public. This has led to many speculating that he will be traded this summer, so that the Winnipeg Jets could get as much long-term value out of Dubois as possible. According to Darren Dreger of TSN, a trade isn’t what’s most likely. Per Dreger, if a team such as the New York Rangers or Montreal Canadiens wants to add Dubois this summer, it will take a “very substantial offer” to get Winnipeg to agree. Dreger names a few Rangers players specifically in Filip Chytil, Braden Schneider, and Kaapo Kakko as examples of headliners in a Dubois trade, and says that it could even take “a first-round pick on top of that.” Unless an interested team can offer a lucrative package of assets headlined by players such as the aforementioned group to acquire Dubois, Dreger states that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff won’t trade Dubois this offseason.
- Johnny Gaudreau could be the biggest name in this summer’s free-agent market, and according to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, despite a major offer from the Flames, the situation with Gaudreau is unchanged. Per LeBrun, Gaudreau’s camp has “not communicated” where the contract situation is headed, and there seems to be a growing divide in terms of how Gaudreau wants to handle his free agency and what the Flames are willing to tolerate as they attempt to construct next year’s roster. LeBrun reports that Gaudreau “wants to keep the Flames in the mix” while also getting to “take a peek” at the offers from other teams on July 13th. The Flames, though, would reportedly be uncomfortable with the saga dragging on to that point, and would potentially need to begin to pivot to other options, as LeBrun puts it. Flames GM Brad Treliving has previously stated that he would move “heaven and earth” to retain Gaudreau, so it remains to be seen if “heaven and earth” includes tolerating the uncertainty of Gaudreau’s free agency in order to maintain their chance of getting his signature on an extension.