Free agency is now less than six weeks away and many teams are already looking ahead to when it opens up. There will be several prominent players set to hit the open market in mid-July while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign as well. Next up is a look at the blues.
Key Restricted Free Agents:
f Ryan Donato – After bouncing around a bit the past few seasons, the once highly-touted prospect settled in for a quality first season with the Kraken, putting up 16 goals and 15 assists for 31 points in 74 games. Donato’s 74 games played were the most in a season for his career, as were his 31 points, which ranked sixth on a struggling Kraken team. As Seattle looks to improve and draw closer to its first-ever playoff Berth, they’ll look to bring in new talent, but also retain the pieces that seemed to work for them, which would presumably include the 26-year-old forward. After signing a two-year, $3.8MM contract prior to the 2019-20 season with Minnesota, Donato took a pay cut this season in Seattle at just $750K, but after his strong 2021-22 performance, he could be in line for a contract similar to the one he signed in 2019.
f Morgan Geekie – Geekie was selected from the Carolina hurricanes in the Expansion Draft and settled into his first regular role in the NHL, playing in registering 22 points in 73 games for the Kraken, both career highs. Not the flashiest player, Geekie makes a living as a hard-working, gritty forward which should serve him well as he he looks to continue his career and play regular minutes on a Kraken team that’s also looking to improve. When his ELC expired last offseason, Geekie signed a one-year, $750K contract with Seattle, a deal which seemed to work out well for both player and team. This offseason, Geekie will likely find a modest raise as well as the opportunity to show that he is part of the long-term plan in Seattle.
f Daniel Sprong – A deadline-day deal saw Sprong come from the Washington Capitals as part of the return for forward Marcus Johanson, Sprong continued his quiet-but-effective play with Seattle, scoring six goals in 16 games. Sprong is an interesting player, having been traded three times already in his young career, he’s never had a true chance to settle in with a team. The forward has never had eye-popping numbers at the NHL level, but he has shown the ability to score goals with relative ease. As Seattle looks to find players to build around without a long-settled foundation, Sprong has shown in his brief tenure with Seattle that he was capable of scoring goals, his six in 16 equivalent to a 30 goal pace in an 82 game stretch. He may not find much of a raise over his previous $725K cap hit, but his age (25) and his ability to put pucks in the net could see him getting a real, consistent NHL look with Seattle in 2022-23.
f Karson KuhlmanF Cole LindF Alexander TrueF Carsen TwarynskiD Haydn FleuryD Dennis CholowskiD Cale Fleury
Key Unrestricted Free Agents:
f Victor Rask – Rask’s case is interesting, coming off a six-year, $24MM contract he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes prior to the 2016-17 season. The forward would see himself struggling for Carolina and was eventually dealt to the Minnesota Wild in January of 2019, struggling there as well. Rask would actually rebound to an extent in 2021-22, putting up 13 points in 29 games for the Wild, however salary cap issues forced the organization to bury him in the AHL. As a result, the Wild dealt Rask to Seattle in a salary cap trade at the 2022 deadline, Rask continuing his bounce-back with eight points in 18 games for the Kraken. Where Rask winds up is of course unknown, and he surely won’t see another $24MM contract this offseason, however he has used his 2021-22 very nicely, especially in the face of adversity, to re-establish his value as an NHLer .
f Riley Sheahan – After spending his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings organization, on October, 2017 trade set Sheahan off on a stretch of six teams in five seasons, culminating in a 2021-22 season with the NHL’s newest team. Sheahan turned in a typical-for-him 17 points in 69 games this season, playing his usual 200-foot game as a responsible bottom-six center. The 30-year-old should be useful to a number of teams in different situations, including a building Kraken, a playoff-bound team, or somewhere in between. Having had three straight seasons with salaries under $1MM, most recently $850K this season, Sheahan would presumably wind up with something in that neighborhood once again.
D Derrick PouliotD Connor CarrickD Gustav OlofssonG Antoine Bibeau
Projected Cap Space:
Seattle projects to have $22,885MM in available cap space this offseason from which to work with. This of course will be enough to retain their pending RFAs and UFAs if they want to, the most expensive of these likely being Donato and Rask, who would probably not go much north of $3MM each per season, if that high. The key consideration for Seattle will be getting better, the team finishing 27-49-6 in their inaugural season. Their available cap space will provide plenty of options to improve and work the free agent and trade markets, but as far as their impending free agents are concerned, the decision may be less about affordability as it is with other teams, and more about what kind of talent they can find to play there. Even if they can retain all of their free agents and find a few to bring in from the outside while staying under the salary cap ceiling, it doesn’t change the fact that they cannot have more than 50 contracts in the organization and 18 skaters dressed every night On that note, Seattle currently sits with 22 out of a maximum 50 contracts allowed, plenty of room to work.