The trade deadline on March 21st is fast approaching and the Seattle Kraken are, quite clearly, sellers this season. As of this writing, they have the third-worst record in the entire NHL, behind the intentionally-bad Arizona Coyotes and the somehow-reigning-Stanley-Cup-runners-up Montreal Canadiens. Playoffs are out of the question this year, so the focus now has to shift to the future. What moves can general manager Ron Francis make now that will turn Seattle into playoff hopefuls in the future? Em already took a look at who should be off the table if teams come calling, so today we’ll take a look at the guys that Francis should actively be shopping in the coming week.
Let’s start with the obvious.
It’s all but a foregone conclusion that the first captain in franchise history won’t finish the season with the team. Giordano has been a bright spot on Seattle’s blue line and in the locker room this season, but the Kraken can’t expect him to be a part of their long-term plan. He’s 38 years old, after all, in the midst of his 15th NHL season with over 1,000 games under his belt. I can’t say whether it will be the years or the mileage that will catch up with him first, but either way there’s a good chance Gio isn’t Gio any more by the time Seattle is ready to make a run in the playoffs.
Still, he’s shown that his age hasn’t caught up to him quite yet, and he could be a huge boost to a defensively challenged team preparing for a playoff run this season.
It would be nice if Seattle could send Giordano back to Calgary, where he spend his entire career prior to the expansion draft, considering they are the top team in the Pacific and potentially the biggest challengers to the Avalanche for the Western Conference title, but the Flames have little reason aside from sentimentality to trade away resources for a defender right now. They’re one of the best defensive teams in the league, backed by Jacob Markstrom and his eight shutouts.
Instead, keep an eye on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the coming days. The Leafs are a phenomenally talented team up front, but have some question marks on the back end. The Kraken just scored four goals on this team on Tuesday, only the second time in the last 11 games Seattle tallied four goals. Toronto needs defense, and the fact that they are in arguably the largest hockey market in North America means the pressure is on to make a splash at the deadline. With any luck, the Kraken could retain half of Giordano’s salary and net themselves another first round pick this year from Toronto.
The boi boi Calle will always be a Seattle legend thanks to Marshawn Lynch, but he’s also the forward that most people agree will not finish the year in a Kraken sweater. He might be a perfectly average NHL forward, but his consistency and penalty killing ability could make him attractive to a fair few playoff teams looking to solidify their forward depth. Elliotte Friedman has listed the Washington Capitals as a potential suitor for Järnkrok, but nothing concrete has come just yet. He won’t net a return like Giordano, but a mid-round pick isn’t out of the question here.
Järnkrok has spent time all throughout the Kraken lineup, even centering the first line in Jared McCann’s short absence. It wouldn’t be easy to replace his versatility if he goes.
Johansson is another forward that would be a depth addition to a playoff team at the deadline. The 31-year old doesn’t present huge scoring upside, but he does have significant experience in the regular season and in the playoffs. He was a member of the Washington Capitals for seven years to begin his career, during which time the Caps made the playoffs six times and won five playoff series. He’s also quite affordable, with only a $1.5 million cap hit for the entire season. With any luck, his recent string few gorgeous assists might up the interest in Jojo, and up the price tag as well.
Soucy is an above-average defender with one more year on his contract after this season at a reasonable $2.75 million cap hit. He would be more than just a rental for the team that acquires him. Soucy has already tied his career high in goals this season too with 7. Teams are always looking to add big bodies on the blue line to prepare for physical playoff hockey, and the 6’5” Soucy certainly fits that bill. The goals might even be enough for a team to consider him manning the point on their second power play unit. If Soucy gets moved, that opens up more consistent ice time for guys like Haydn Fleury and Will Borgen, two young defenders that haven’t had a chance at consistent ice time all season. We might even get Cale Fleury back up here too for a spell.
If no NHL teams are interested, the Kraken could always give the Seahawks a shout too — I hear they’re in the market for someone who knows how to throw a football now.
This is one that would really sting as a Kraken fan. Blackwell has been one of the few bright spots in the lineup lately. He’s scored six points over the last five games since being paired on a line with Yanni Gourde and Mason Appleton. Seattle hasn’t had many consistent forward lines, but this one really seems to have stuck. But it might be short-lived.
Blackwell is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year. Even if he were to stay with the team until the end of the season, there’s no guarantee he’d be back next year. Meanwhile, there are always playoff teams looking to add a versatile depth forward that can kill penalties and generate some offense from the bottom-six. His recent streak could be enough to convince a playoff team to pony up for his services, and that would be a much better deal for Seattle than losing him for nothing at the end of the season.