Hot stove options: who's likeliest on the Kraken radar?

Ottawa Senators v Carolina Hurricanes

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 11: Martin Necas #88 of the Carolina Hurricanes is introduced prior to their game against the Ottawa Senators at PNC Arena on October 11, 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)Photo: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

By a month from now, we’ll have clear notice on the blueprint of next year’s Seattle Kraken. No surprise, their biggest need of the off-season is to address offensive upgrades, primarily within the top six forwards. 

 “We’ve got some cap space,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis told 93.3 KJR-FM. “Hopefully we can do something over the next couple months - whether it’s signing free agents, whether it’s making some trades, like what we did between year one and year two. No guarantee that happens, but we’re certainly looking at that and we have the money and the backing of the ownership to go ahead and try to do that.”   

The upgrades could start as soon as this weekend, as names have begun to emerge within the trade market. Free agency opens at 9:00 am PT on July 1, where the Kraken are likely putting pedal to metal. Here’s a look at several hot stove names to watch for on their radar, included with a special “burner rating” (with 10 ranked as the highest/ hottest). 

Anthony Duclair (by free agency from Tampa Bay): 

He’s been linked to Seattle as a reported landing spot, and the Kraken are likely looking at the 31-goal version of Duclair in Florida, three seasons ago, for what they have in mind for an upgrade. Duclair struggled with injuries two years ago but returned for the Panthers run to the Cup Final, and last season had a significant drop offensively but with a San Jose team that bottomed out to “win” the Macklin Celenbrini lottery sweepstakes. He found a re-birth in his game in a March trade to Tampa Bay, where he put up 15 points in the final 17 regular season games, closing out an impressive 24 goal campaign. 

Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 16: Anthony Duclair #10 of the Tampa Bay Lightning warms up prior to the game against the Florida Panthers at the Amerant Bank Arena on March 16, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)Photo: Joel Auerbach / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Duclair, 28, comes off a three-year deal worth three million annually. Speed, skill, size, and effective front-of-the-net play are his game. It’s a logical fit for what the Kraken need. There’s also a potentially attractive fan favorite component too: Duclair has grown into a role of advocacy and community outreach as a founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, and most recently orchestrated the construction of a synthetic rink surface in the Tampa Bay community. The Lightning raved about his return to form offensively, and with the summer bearing tough decisions ahead for their cap-crunched roster, Duclair could be available at an affordable price. BURNER RATING: 9 

Martin Necas (by trade from Carolina): 

Reports are surfacing that Necas, the dynamic 28-year old forward at the end of a two-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes, could be traded by this weekend, and the Kraken are in the mix to acquire him. Necas makes sense on multiple levels: while he’s not in the elite tier of the McDavid-Matthews-MacKinnon forward group, his brand of electrifying speed and skill demonstrate that a 28-goal, 71-point campaign is less of an outlier and perhaps more of an omen, while he still hit 24 goals this past season with 17:21 of ice time, 122nd among all NHL forwards (Matty Beniers, Yanni Gourde, and Jordan Eberle played more). He was nearly at a point per game in the playoffs. The guy in line to make a trade happen is also connected: Francis drafted Necas when he ran the Hurricanes seven years ago. 

Arguably, Necas would sufficiently upgrade the Kraken offense. The return would likely cost high end draft picks or even an established rostered player, begging the debate of “giving something to get something.” His name is the hottest right now on the trade market, the Kraken will have competition to land him, and he’ll also need a new contract. As a pending restricted free agent, he’s fresh off a two-year deal worth three million, annually. The bigger bag awaits. That begs the question of how much more the Kraken need to lock him in, long term. But for many of the realistically available forwards, he checks off a lot of boxes. BURNER RATING: 8

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 24: Max Domi #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs waits for a puck drop against the Boston Bruins in Game Three of the First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 24, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)Photo: Claus Andersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Max Domi (by free agency from Toronto): 

This one’s interesting, from a sheer potential and affordability standpoint. You might recall the pesky, slippery, and stocky 5-foot-10 forward, built like a fire hydrant at 208 pounds, who played a noticeable supporting cast role on a Dallas team that was nearly knocked out by the Kraken in seven games, two years ago in the second round. His offensive game is built on a speedy and fiery “heart and soul” brand that’s got fan favorite-potential, and is nails to defend against. His father Tie was one of the most feared enforcers in the game’s previous generation. Max’s brand is all about hurting you on the scoreboard or in a battle at the net.   

Domi brings what many hockey insiders call “jam” – an edgy, abrasive, and relentless forté of grit that commands respect and space, upgrades physicality needs on the Kraken, and translates to playoff production. He brings a high-energy personality that fills a dressing room, along with versatility between the center and left wing positions. Yet the investment though would come with the condition of a rebound season. His defense has a questionable reputation, and he only had nine goals and 47 points with the Leafs this past year. Nearly all of that was at five-on-five, contrasted with a 28-goal campaign five years ago in Montreal when he had the second most power play ice time. 

Domi, an improved face-off man in each of the last two seasons, sentimentally became attached to Toronto where his father lived the dream as a Leafs folk hero. But Max was only on a one-year contract for three million. There’s risk involved for his erratic production through his career, but a large role for the right price could make this move happen. BURNER RATING: 8

New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 26: Teuvo Teravainen #86 of the Carolina Hurricanes scores a second period powerplay goal against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 26, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Teuvo Teravainen (by free agency from Carolina): 

Isn’t it funny how these Francis connected-Canes keep coming up? That’s what you get when a former general manager moves on and his former team has a multitude of players who need to get paid – but not enough money to go around. Francis got him in a trade from Chicago eight years ago as a substantial foundation piece to the Hurricanes brand of today. Teravainen plays a high-end offensive game that translates with puck possession, solid defense, and locked in a 25-goal output this year. That’s his career high, but he’s also locked in four seasons north of 60 points.  He's got a potential fit on the power play and penalty kill units. 

If Teravainen becomes available, which is likely based on the Hurricanes priorities with Jake Guentzel and restricted free agent Seth Jarvis, it’s likely Francis takes a swing on a reunion once again. Teravainen’s last contract was for five years, worth $5.4 million annually. BURNER RATING: 6 

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game One

SUNRISE, FL - MAY 6: Gustav Forsling #42 of the Florida Panthers defends against Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins during first period action in Game One of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Amerant Bank Arena on May 6, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)Photo: Joel Auerbach / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Jake DeBrusk (by free agency from Boston): 

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had DeBrusk linked to the Kraken two weeks ago. He would address the upgrade needs at an affordable price, with playmaking hands, sandpaper-like grit, and a quick release that would make him an instant fit with three seasons of his career where he’s flirted with 30 goals. He took a step back this season with just 19 goals and 40 points, but played through a broken hand during the season and yet came back to leverage 11 points in 13 playoff games. 

DeBrusk can play either side of the wing and would present another prolific option for Matty Beniers. He’s at the finish line of a two-year deal worth four million annually, an affordable ballpark for what the Kraken need inside of their cap room. It’s likely that DeBrusk hits the open market, and he’ll command plenty of attention. BURNER RATING: 6 

Detroit Red Wings v Florida Panthers

SUNRISE, FLORIDA - MARCH 30: Sam Reinhart #13 of the Florida Panthers scores the game winning goal against Alex Lyon #34 of the Detroit Red Wings in the shootout at Amerant Bank Arena on March 30, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Sam Reinhart (by free agency from Florida): 

Reinhart is going to have his pick of the litter this summer. He’s arguably the top pending free agent projected to hit the market, and likely will command a new contract north of $10 million. The reasons he’d be a grand slam signing for Francis are too many to count on two hands. We’ll start with the obvious offense – including a career high 57 goals, though of course it came in a contract year on a Cup contender, but also he’s been good for 30 or more in each of the last three seasons. He could reunite with Jason Botterill, now working under Francis, and previously was Reinhart’s general manager in Buffalo. 

Reinhart can do it all – play center, wing (where he’s spent most of his time in Florida), drive a line, play defense, manufacture offense in high danger areas, and in two weeks he could likely be a Stanley Cup Champion. The Kraken would love to add those qualities yesterday. So would 31 other teams, where the competition to sign him will be ferocious. Landing a big fish of Reinhart’s size would be symbolic of the Kraken taking the next big and necessary step as a competitive franchise. But it’ll be up to how much Francis is willing to spend, manage his salary cap room after that, and where Reinhart prefers to go (or, run it back in Florida). BURNER RATING: 4 

Elias Lindholm (by free agency from Vancouver): 

See above. Lindholm’s a natural center, and one of the top available pending on the market. He’s going to command attention from teams who are ahead of the Kraken with regards to championship window (see: Boston, Vancouver) and has all the leverage to command a hefty payday despite turning 30 this December. 

Lindholm and Francis are connected with their past with Carolina. Assuming there’s no drop-off in his game (and gets riskier with age), Lindholm could fit in as a center who’s been capable of 42 goals and looked terrific in the playoffs this spring for the Canucks. The issue: those 42 goals came in Calgary with Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau as linemates. Since they split apart: 22 goals, and 15 goals are his declining totals in order of the last two years. Pay up at your own risk. BURNER RATING: 3

Jake Guentzel (by free agency from Carolina): 

You want a winger who can produce offense and score goals? Look over here. You want a winger who can win a Stanley Cup or two for your city? Look over here. He’s dripping with Sidney Crosby influence and could enter a dressing room with (surprise!) a legion of teammates from Penguins past: Jared McCann, Jamie Oleksiak, Brandon Tanev, and Brian Dumoulin are all under contract (while Justin Schultz is TBD). Voila, instant fit. His game punches above his weight class, he’s top line material, and by now we’ve all put the questions of “but can he produce without Crosby” talks to bed. He was dynamite after this spring’s trade to Carolina. 

The fly in the ointment, aside from the massive pay raise he’ll command, is the inside track that the Hurricanes have on an extension, according to Chris Johnston of The Athletic. But if he tests the market, see the Reinhart situation: if Francis wants him, the Kraken will have to bid in a proverbially crowded and lucrative auction room. BURNER RATING: 2 

Toronto Maple Leafs v San Jose Sharks

Photo: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Mitch Marner (by trade from Toronto): 

Perhaps no better forward on the planet could be available by trade this summer. 

If it even happens. 

Marner, who grew up in the Toronto area while now playing for his hometown team, has grown into a polarizing yet talented symbol of offense through six years of his NHL career. He’s flirted with 100 points in each of the prior two seasons and would bring elite level playmaking, creativity, and skating abilities positioned to transform the top line and all associate firepower in Seattle. Repeated disappointment in the playoffs, each on Marner and the Leafs, have amplified the volume of off-season trade talks. Criticism has surrounded his postseason effectiveness. Yet, he remains a top end point producer that teams salivate over – and turning age 27 a month ago, he’s in his prime. 

The odds of Marner landing in Seattle though are remote – at best. He’s entering the final year of his six-year, $10.9 million annual contract. That’s steep for the Kraken to even consider even with their roomy cap space, where they need to fit new contracts for Beniers and Eeli Tolvanen. Marner’s current deal also has a no-move clause – he can flat out refuse any proposed trade, and his camp, per Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, isn’t making any move to get out of Toronto. This would all be on Leafs brass to conceive a proposal and approach Marner for permission. Any trade, which has no guarantee of an extension (and it will be cashmere-expensive), involves a high degree of risk and the likely return of a king’s ransom. 

The Kraken are in the market for an offensive upgrade. This would be an elite addition. But for the potential cost, how much is too much? Draw your own conclusions, where nothing of an asking price is perhaps off the table. Any player (even in a combo package) is fair game.  BURNER RATING: 1

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content