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Can Kraken GM Ron Francis Secure Long-Term Deal for RFA Center?


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Vince Carbonneau
June 14, 2024  (10:17)
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Ron Francis with the Kraken as the GM
Photo credit: The Seattle Times

Kraken GM Ron Francis Faces Crucial Decision on RFA Center Beniers

As the Stanley Cup Final rages on, the NHL rumor mill is heating up with plenty of off-ice action. Teams are gearing up for the 2024 NHL Entry Draft and the onset of free agency on July 1st. This period allows teams to sign current free agents and work on retaining their restricted free agents (RFAs) while exploring new acquisitions. Today's focus is on the Seattle Kraken and their efforts to lock down one of their promising young centers.
NHL Rumors: Seattle Kraken Focus on Future of Forward
Rumor: According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, the Seattle Kraken are in negotiations with RFA forward Matthew Beniers. These discussions began following the recent scouting combine in Buffalo.
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The Kraken experienced a regression last season after their surprising playoff run in 2022-23. Changes have been made, with Dan Bylsma taking over as the new head coach after a successful tenure with the Kraken's AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley.
Beniers had a quieter season with 15 goals, down from his 24-goal Calder Trophy-winning rookie year. Despite this, the 21-year-old forward remains a key piece for the Kraken's future. A standout at the University of Michigan, Beniers' potential to become a franchise cornerstone is undeniable.
Contract Options on the Table
Pagnotta reports that the negotiations present Kraken GM Ron Francis and Beniers with several options. Both bridge deals and long-term contracts are being considered.
For context, a bridge deal typically spans two to four seasons, covering enough of the RFA years to keep the player under team control while setting them up for a significant pay raise before unrestricted free agency. Seattle Times hockey writer Geoff Baker explains that this approach allows teams to maintain leverage for the first seven seasons of a player's career.
Alternatively, the Kraken could opt for a long-term contract, securing some of Beniers' unrestricted free agent years at potentially a more favorable rate for the team if he becomes a star player. This strategy could provide financial stability and team control while potentially saving money in the long run.
Financial Implications and Cap Space
Beniers, hailing from Hingham, Massachusetts, had a cap hit of just under $900,000. He's undoubtedly seeking a substantial raise. Fortunately for the Kraken, the NHL salary cap is expected to rise to $88 million, providing some financial breathing room. Seattle currently has over $23 million in cap space, but the team aims to remain flexible to address various needs.
Despite not being a cap team, the Kraken must balance immediate requirements with long-term planning. Ensuring they have the financial flexibility to adapt to different scenarios is crucial.
Optimism for the Future
Dan Bylsma's previous tenure with the Buffalo Sabres may have ended on a sour note, but his ability to connect with young players is seen as a significant advantage for the Kraken. Beniers, in particular, could benefit from Bylsma's experience and success, including his Stanley Cup win with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There is hope that Beniers will rebound from his injury and solidify his role as a top-two center for Seattle. However, contract negotiations are always uncertain. The Kraken need to decide if they want Beniers to prove his standout rookie season wasn't a fluke or if they're ready to commit to him as a foundational player.
Ultimately, the decision lies with Ron Francis. Will he leverage the team's current control to secure a favorable deal, or will he concede some ground to ensure Beniers is locked in as a future franchise pillar? Only time will tell as these high-stakes negotiations unfold.
POLL
14 JUIN   |   28 ANSWERS
Can Kraken GM Ron Francis Secure Long-Term Deal for RFA Center?

Should the Seattle Kraken prioritize signing Matthew Beniers to a long-term contract?

Yes2589.3 %
No310.7 %
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