How Can the Seattle Kraken Boost Their Offense This Offseason?

Vince Carbonneau
June 25, 2024  (10:03 PM)

Seattle Kraken players celebrating
Photo credit: The Seattle Times

How Can the Seattle Kraken Boost Their Offense This Offseason?

With a thrilling Stanley Cup Final Game 7 concluded, the Florida Panthers crowned NHL champions, and the Coachella Valley Firebirds finishing just two wins short of a Calder Cup, the hockey world will now swiftly pivot from playoff mode to offseason wheeling and dealing. Some moves have already begun, with players like Pierre-Luc Dubois, Darcy Kuemper, Jacob Markstrom, and Linus Ullmark traded by their former clubs. However, activity is set to escalate quickly.
Believe it or not, the 2024 NHL Draft is just three days away, with the first round on Friday and rounds two through seven on Saturday. Kraken Development Camp and the opening of unrestricted free agency also loom on July 1.
Seattle aims to upgrade this summer and return to playoff contention for 2024-25. The Kraken's most significant offseason moves are likely to occur over the next week or two amid these tentpole events.
While we will cover the draft extensively in the coming days, discussing projections and Seattle's plans to bolster its prospect pipeline, my current focus is on how the Kraken will enhance their team for next season. In the «Offseason To-Do List» article I wrote a few weeks ago, I proposed a hypothetical depth chart. I'm going to use that depth chart, fill in open spots with players I think the Kraken could target, and then compare how much of an impact those individuals could have for 2024-25.
Depth Chart
My prediction remains that General Manager Ron Francis will seek to improve the team's offense by acquiring two 20-plus goal scorers this offseason, either through trades or free agency. Assuming unrestricted free agents Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Kailer Yamamoto, and Tomas Tatar do not return next season (though I would be in favor of Tatar returning, he saw reduced ice time under former coach Dave Hakstol and even landed in healthy scratch territory toward the end of the season), there are two spots in the lineup open for offensive upgrades.
Here's a hypothetical forward lineup with placeholders for the aforementioned added 20-goal scorers:
- Jared McCann // Matty Beniers // NEW 20-GOAL WINGER
- Jordan Eberle // NEW 20-GOAL CENTER // Andre Burakovsky
- Eeli Tolvanen // Shane Wright // Oliver Bjorkstrand
- Tye Kartye // Yanni Gourde // Jaden Schwartz
- Brandon Tanev
Recent rumors suggested Brandon Tanev and his one remaining year at a $3.5 million cap hit might be traded. If the team does add two players toward the top of the lineup, then having that big of a contract potentially filling the 13th forward role does not make sense. Meanwhile, Ryan Winterton's standout performance in the Calder Cup Finals may have made Tanev even more expendable. This doesn't mean I'm cementing Winterton into the Kraken lineup for next season, but younger, cheaper players than Tanev could fill the 12th or 13th forward roles.
On defense, we at Sound Of Hockey anticipate minimal changes, except for Justin Schultz likely departing via free agency after two seasons in the Pacific Northwest. Ryker Evans is expected to move onto the third pair full-time, though there's potential for the team to add a depth defenseman to backfill for Schultz.
- Vince Dunn // Adam Larsson
- Jamie Oleksiak // Will Borgen
- Brian Dumoulin // Ryker Evans
With Seattle's fourth line in 2023-24 proving mostly docile, and several players higher in the lineup experiencing reduced output, the Kraken scored a total of 214 goals, good for 29th in the league.
Filling Open Spots
Francis and company have various options to enhance the forward corps. Our own John Barr highlighted potential trade candidates such as Trevor Zegras, Martin Necas, Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Tanner Jeannot in Monday Musings. My personal favorites from this list are Necas and Ehlers. John suggested Necas, a restricted free agent, might command north of $8 million AAV in his next contract, which could be more than Seattle is willing to pay. But at 25 years old, Necas is hitting his prime and could justify that kind of investment.
On the other hand, acquiring Ehlers, a 28-year-old winger who has been plagued by injuries at times, could lead to another type of financial risk. While speculative and potentially farfetched, I'll pencil in Necas for the Kraken next season with an estimated $8 million salary.
If the Kraken acquire one scoring forward via trade, I anticipate the second coming through free agency, akin to what Francis swung two summers ago when he signed Andre Burakovsky and traded for Oliver Bjorkstrand.
This brings us to available UFAs, where players like Teuvo Teravainen, Jake DeBrusk, Sean Monahan, Anthony Duclair, and Warren Foegele could all make varying levels of sense for Seattle. Here, I'll select DeBrusk, estimating a $5.5 million contract, a reasonable $1.5 million increase from his previous cap hit of $4 million.
Regardless of the forwards acquired, if the Kraken unload Tanev's contract, re-sign Matty Beniers and Eeli Tolvanen (both RFAs due for significant raises), and add approximately $14 million in total between the two forward additions, then Seattle should remain right around next season's $88 million salary cap.
Impact of Acquisitions
Adding two effective forwards isn't just about the 40 or so goals they might contribute. It's also about the ripple effect on the lineup when you strengthen the top end of your roster.
Let's incorporate these forwards into the depth chart and consider the expected goal output for the Kraken in 2024-25, factoring in goal totals from the 2023-24 season and conservative estimates for rookies like Shane Wright, Winterton, and Evans.
- Jared McCann (29) // Matty Beniers (15) // Jake DeBrusk (19)
- Jordan Eberle (17) // Martin Necas (24) // Andre Burakovsky (7)
- Eeli Tolvanen (16) // Shane Wright (12*) // Oliver Bjorkstrand (20)
- Tye Kartye (11) // Yanni Gourde (11) // Jaden Schwartz (13)
- Ryan Winterton (2*)
- Vince Dunn (11) // Adam Larsson (4)
- Jamie Oleksiak (2) // Will Borgen (3)
- Brian Dumoulin (6) // Ryker Evans (5*)
(* = Rookie projection)
If the Kraken maintain the same mostly paltry production from returning players, add two forwards with 24 and 19 goals respectively, and get 22 goals from the three rookies I think could make the full-time NHL roster, that would bring Seattle's goal total to 227. That would have only bumped the Kraken up one spot to 28th in the NHL in 2023-24.
However, this projection dramatically oversimplifies goal-scoring dynamics. Strengthening the top lines should also facilitate better matchups for other scorers throughout the lineup. This depth could potentially revive the offensive balance we saw in Seattle two seasons ago, not just by adding 13 goals over 82 games, but by encouraging offensive improvement from the whole team.
What are your thoughts? Could this offseason plan get the Kraken back into playoff contention?
25 JUIN   |   19 ANSWERS
How Can the Seattle Kraken Boost Their Offense This Offseason?

Do you think the Kraken's offseason moves will lead to a playoff berth next season?

Yes1894.7 %
No15.3 %
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