Ryker Evans sent back to AHL Coachella Valley

Chicago Blackhawks v Seattle Kraken

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 14: Ryker Evans #39 of the Seattle Kraken attempts a shot against Arvid Soderblom #40 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at Climate Pledge Arena on December 14, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

The Seattle Kraken on Saturday reassigned defenseman Ryker Evans to the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the American Hockey League.

What we know:

  • Evans, called up for his first stint in the NHL this month, earned four assists in his first nine games
  • At 22 years of age, he has 89 games of AHL experience with 52 points
  • Evans last season, a top pair defenseman for the Firebirds, led the team's defensemen in playoff scoring with 26 points in 26 games, third overall for points.
  • The Kraken are carrying eight defensemen on the roster and Justin Schultz, frequently scratched due to injuries or lineup decisions since the Evans call-up, scored the game winning goal in an overtime win on Friday against Philadelphia.

Instant analysis from 93.3 KJR-FM:
To say this move is surprising, based on talent alone, is a pretty good place to start. Evans frequently performed as one of the Kraken top defensemen each night, was used heavily, and ran the point for the second power play unit. Miscues were rare, such as coverage at the front of the net on a Dallas overtime winner on Dec. 18. Yet, it's undeniable he has mastered nearly every assignment at the AHL level to prepare for the NHL level. The Kraken are 6-2-3 since Evans was called up, three points within the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. Perhaps in a salary cap free world, he's underway with cleaning out his apartment in Coachella Valley, prepared to move to Seattle permanently.

However, the hard salary cap dictates the roster structure. Previously seen in a red non-contact jersey, the Kraken just moved forward Jaden Schwartz up a notch in recovery as he participated in Friday morning's optional skate in normal colored equipment, a strong signal that perhaps he's close to returning to the lineup. Since he is on long term injured reserve, the Kraken get his $5.5 million annual salary wiped off the books. With the Evans move, who is also exempt from having to pass through waivers, they have $5.7 million in available cap space (according to capfriendly.com). That's enough to squeeze Schwartz in once he returns.

Additionally, Justin Schultz, in the final year of his contract as a right-handed shot defenseman, made a strong statement for his place in the lineup with the game winner on Friday night, three days away from the Winter Classic. He previously was scratched for all but two of the last ten games. Though competition has been dialed up for playing time on the Kraken defense, Evans was moved to the press box for the second time in four games. Coachella Valley will welcome him with open arms as their top pair blueliner, set to receive substantial playing time as opposed to battling just to hang in the lineup. Should there be another roster move or injury to affect the defensive corps, Evans is likely back on an airplane headed to Seattle.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content