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Recapping a wild Sunday for Ron Francis

or: an update on Ron’s quest to acquire an entire draft round

2021 NHL Draft Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

The Kraken were expected to be big sellers at the trade deadline, and sellers they were. General manager Ron Francis executed three trades throughout the day on Sunday, successfully turning four players into five draft picks. It all got started around lunchtime, when the bell finally tolled on Mark Giordano’s time in Seattle.

There was reason to hope that a Gio trade would net the Kraken a first round pick in return, but it just wasn’t in the cards this year. Giordano expressed his interest to join the Maple Leafs, his hometown team, and a team which doesn’t have much draft capital to speak of in 2022. Sean discussed this in more detail earlier, but while the return on this one was disappointing at first, it does in the end make sense.

Let’s also not overlook the other half of this trade either: Colin Blackwell is gone now too. Blackwell was injured early in the year, then struggled to fit in the right spot in the lineup for a while before finding a great home alongside Yanni Gourde and Mason Appleton. A pending unrestricted free agent, Blackwell did seem destined to be moved this weekend. He’s a solid middle-six forward who plays excellent defense and comes on a dirt-cheap contract. His addition to this deal is why the Kraken are getting three picks back in return from Toronto.

After a few hours to let that one settle, the next hammer dropped on the 2022 Kraken roster — and it’s safe to say Kraken fans were much more agreeable to this one.

The Nashville Predators sent a 2nd round pick to Seattle for defenseman Jeremy Lauzon. Lauzon has been a staple of the Kraken blue line for much of the year, and his most memorable moments weren’t exactly bright spots in this down season. His play did improve over the course of the season, but it was still a bit of a surprise that a team believed it improved enough to warrant a 2nd round draft pick. This one looks like a win for Seattle.

While the Lauzon news was still fresh, news of a third trade involving the Kraken came trickling in.

Mason Appleton is getting shipped back to Winnipeg to rejoin the Jets team that drafted him in the 6th round back in 2015. Appleton also had a slow start to the season before finding a home alongside the aforementioned Blackwell and Gourde. I call this one the Goldilocks trade: Gio didn’t net enough return, Lauzon gave Seattle more than expected, but the fourth round pick for Appleton seems just right.

The Full Breakdown

With these three trades plus the Calle Järnkrok trade from last week, Seattle’s roster now looks quite a bit different — and so does their future draft capital. Here’s what Francis’ wheeling and dealing looks like all together.

Kraken trade away:

  • Calle Järnkrok
  • Mark Giordano
  • Colin Blackwell
  • Jeremy Lauzon
  • Mason Appleton

Kraken receive:

  • Four 2nd-round picks (3 in 2022, 1 in 2023)
  • Two 3rd-round picks (1 in 2023, 1 in 2024)
  • One 4th-round pick in 2023
  • One 7th-round pick in 2024

The best way to really visualize the ammo Seattle has in the upcoming drafts comes from CapFriendly.

A look at Seattle’s 16 draft picks in the first 3 rounds of the next 3 drafts

Seattle is absolutely loaded with early and mid-round draft picks. Again, the only real downer in this graphic is the lack of an extra first round pick, but having four (4!) second round picks in just the 2022 NHL Entry Draft is really encouraging for a franchise still trying to build a team from the ground up. Seattle utilized their extra cap space this year, retaining salary for both Giordano and Järnkrok, and didn’t give away anything in future assets. Every player traded was on an expiring contract, with Lauzon and Appleton being the only restricted free agents that could have been in the plans for next year’s roster but mostly underwhelmed this season.

Where that leaves us

There are still 19 games left in this inaugural season, and the Kraken are down five lineup regulars. There will no doubt be some call-ups from the Charlotte Checkers here this week, simply because the Kraken currently do not have enough players to fill a gameday lineup. We should see Haydn Fleury as a regular on the blue line now, and a good deal more Will Borgen to boot. Yanni Gourde will have to find two new wingmen, but everyone who has played with him so far seems to do okay. Here’s what the Kraken could look like over these final few weeks:

Forwards

Johansson - McCann - Eberle
Schwartz - Gourde - Donato
Lind - Wennberg - Donskoi
Geekie - Sheahan - Kuhlman
Potential extras: True, McCormick

Defense

Soucy - Larsson
Oleksiak - Fleury
Dunn - Borgen
Potential extras: C.Fleury, Cholowski

The top six can get by without too much of a shakeup, but the bottom six is going to be much different than it has been thus far. Oh, and one more thing: Matty Beniers and the University of Michigan are in the NCAA Men’s Tournament, which begins this weekend. And once Michigan either loses or wins the whole dang thing, Beniers is expected to sign with Seattle and join the club for the final few games. Now that is something exciting to look forward to.