The Noon PT deadline passed on the 2022-23 National Hockey League trade deadline, and Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis had the most important objective in mind before explaining every available nook, cranny, twist, and turn to one of the league’s most volatile and busiest deadlines in recent memory:
Take a shower.
Many general managers across the league had to sweat it out for numerous reasons. For teams like Edmonton, Toronto, Boston, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and more, their championship window has arrived, or is almost closing, with names like Vladimir Tarasenko, Timo Meier, Patrick Kane, Ryan O’Reilly, Jakob Chychrun, Viadislav Gavrikov, Joonas Korpisalo, and even Jonathan Quick on the move.
In the end, defenseman Jaycob Megna, was the only name involved with any roster changes over the last several weeks. Francis refused to deal anybody off the roster.
“I’ve said all along, I like our group,” said Francis.
The Kraken did a lot of their heavy lifting last summer and earlier this yearwith shaping the roster that has arrived at third place in the Pacific Division, with 21 games left in the regular season, in the offseason with trading for Oliver Bjorkstrand and signing Andre Burakovsky, Justin Schultz, and goaltender Martin Jones out of free agency.
Matty Beniers, who was not a part of last year’s expansion team for all but ten games, is now a Calder Trophy favorite and leads the league in rookie scoring. Eeli Tolvanen, whom the Kraken got for nothing off the waiver wire, has turned into a gold-standard transaction with just ten goals in 27 games.
While the face-off circle and penalty kill has at time been a struggle, the Kraken have covered those deficits with five-on-five play, where they league the in goals for that situation, and depth, where 12 different players have scored ten goals or more. Vince Dunn is working on a career-year on the blueline with 44 points. Jared McCann is one goal shy of 30, an impending first for a benchmark in his career.
Draft picks, and high ones, were thrown into the mix across the league with volume at times mirroring a major junior type of transaction. Prospects, akin to Wright, were also in the mix. In the end, the Kraken kept theirs, valuing a draft class with many projections suggesting a crop that will be among the deepest in years.
“If you look at this, and with all respect to our previous draft picks, our scouts will tell you this is the best draft, and the deepest draft of the three, our young franchise will be involved in,” said Francis.
“We’ve got a lot of picks at the top. That will give us options as we get to the draft – whether those players are ones we absolutely want and can make an impact for us, whether we think there’s something that makes sense in a deal to make our team better at some point, but it gives us some options head into the draft.”
With the Kraken maintaining their quiet stance heading into Friday, coming off a 2-0 start to the four game road trip and whispers turning into louder chatter at the desire to stay together, the Kraken didn’t budge with their movement. A source confirmed to 93.3. KJR-FM that offensive-minded Anaheim defenseman John Klingberg’s name was in the mix, while reports said the Kraken were going down to the wire to acquire burly and physical left winger James Van Riemsdyk out of Philadelphia.
In the end, no deal materialized, and the Kraken, arguably ahead of schedule on a championship contending window, are playing the long game.
“End of the day, we believe in the group we had, and didn’t think there were prices we were willing to pay at this point to change the chemistry we have in our locker room currently,” said Francis.