A deep dive into the Seattle Kraken's salary-cap situation

Navigating the salary cap is one of the more important tasks for any GM.  Teams that can avoid total cap chaos by walking the tightrope of inking players to deals that match their value (or compensate for future value without breaking the bank) remain successful.  Those that don’t see struggles and front-office changes.

© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano, left, has one year remaining on his deal.

PHR will look at every NHL team and give a thorough look at their cap situation heading into the 2021-22 season.  This will focus more on players who are regulars on the roster versus those who may find themselves shuttling between the AHL and NHL.  All cap figures are courtesy of CapFriendly.

Seattle Kraken

Current Cap Hit: $73,106,666 (under the $81.5M upper limit)

Entry-level contracts

None projected to play a full-time role in the NHL this coming season.

One year remaining, non-entry-level

Mason Appleton ($900K, RFA)

Colin Blackwell ($725K, UFA)

Dennis Cholowski ($900K, RFA)

Ryan Donato ($750K, RFA)

Cale Fleury ($750K, RFA)

Haydn Fleury ($1.4M, UFA)

Morgan Geekie ($750K, RFA)

Mark Giordano ($6.75M, UFA)

Jeremy Lauzon ($825K, RFA)

Kole Lind ($874K, RFA)

Calle Jarnkrok ($2M, UFA)

Marcus Johansson ($1.5M, UFA)

Jared McCann ($2.94M, RFA)

Riley Sheahan ($850K, UFA)

Carsen Twarynski ($750K, RFA)

McCann has shown flashes of being an above-average contributor in the past but hasn’t been able to do so consistently.  He’ll get the chance to play a bigger role with Seattle, and if it all comes together, he could be in line for a sizable pay bump next year.  Jarnkrok has been on a bargain deal for the last five years and will also get to play a bigger role with a shot at bumping up his numbers before hitting the open market.  Johansson and Sheahan are both coming off quiet years and have seen their value dip lately and will need stronger seasons to land guaranteed deals next summer.  Appleton is coming off a strong season with Winnipeg and is already looking like a candidate to more than double his AAV next summer.  A similar performance this season could triple it.  Donato had to settle for a minimum contract after a tough year in San Jose but should be able to rebuild his value with the Kraken somewhat.  Blackwell had a breakout year with the Rangers and is a candidate for a big jump in salary next summer.  Geekie, Lind and Twarynski will also be battling for depth roles, but if they land a roster spot, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to land a big raise as they’d be in a limited role.

Giordano — who turns 38 next month — is nearing the end of his career but is still a capable top-four blueliner.  He’s going to get an opportunity to play a bigger role than he probably should, and he’s a candidate to be moved at the trade deadline to a contender that can cut his ice time.  He’ll be going year-to-year from here on out, and while his next deal will be cheaper than this, he could still command an AAV in the $5M range.  The Fleury brothers are at different stages of their careers.  Haydn played close to the full season in 2020-21 and should be able to land a small raise a year from now while Cale was in the minors last season and is merely looking to stick on the roster.  A limited role is likely which will yield a cheap deal next summer.  Lauzon did well in Boston last year in his first stint of regular duty, and with arbitration rights, he could double his current AAV next summer.  Cholowski’s AAV is a little high for someone who might be on the fringes of making the roster, but that may be by design in order to try to help sneak him through waivers next month.

Two years remaining

Nathan Bastian ($825K, RFA)

William Borgen ($900K, RFA)

Joonas Donskoi ($3.9M, UFA)

Vince Dunn ($4M, RFA)

Carson Soucy ($2.75M, UFA)

Donskoi hasn’t had a lot of consistent top-six opportunities but has surpassed the 30-point mark in each of the last four seasons.  His price tag is a little high for his level of production, but with a bigger role with the Kraken, that could change.  Bastian has basically just been an energy player in the early stages of his career, and as long as he can hold down a spot on the roster, they won’t have any issues with his price tag.  Gritty-energy players can still land a pretty good payday as long as they can put up some production, which is something Bastian will have to work on.

Dunn’s offensive production landed him a big raise this summer, and it’s telling that Seattle opted for basically a second bridge contract to get one more opportunity to work out a long-term deal before he becomes UFA-eligible.  He’s going to get the opportunity for a bigger role than he had with the Blues, and if he can establish himself as a top-pairing player, that next deal could be quite a pricey one.  Soucy is a serviceable third-pairing defenseman making a bit much for that role, but Seattle has ample cap space to afford the small overpayment in the short term.  Borgen is merely looking to establish himself as a regular NHL player, so his next contract shouldn’t be much higher than this one unless he winds up in a big role fairly quickly.

Three years remaining

Chris Driedger ($3.5M, UFA)

Jordan Eberle ($5.5M, UFA)

Alexander Wennberg ($4.5M, UFA)

Eberle isn’t the top-line winger that he was in his prime, but he’s still a fairly consistent secondary scorer.  He’s going to be asked to do more than that in Seattle, which could give him a chance to crack the 20-goal mark again — something he was on pace to do the last two shortened seasons.  If he gets there, it might not be a bargain contract, but they’ll get a reasonable return.  Wennberg’s contract showed how difficult it is to land impact centers in free agency.  He did well with Florida last season but was bought out by Columbus the year before after struggling in a top-six role and has reached double-digit goals only twice in his career.  He’s going to have a big role with the Kraken, and this is a contract that certainly carries some risk.

Driedger is one of the more impressive success stories in recent years.  After bouncing around the minors, he finally got an opportunity with the Panthers and quickly became one of the better backups in the league.  But with the late start, his track record is minimal — just 41 career NHL appearances, including playoff action.  Landing a three-year commitment toward the upper echelon of price tags for a backup goaltender was pretty good, especially when it looked like he might be the starter.  Of course, that changed early in free agency, but Driedger should be able to still play enough games to justify the small premium for a backup netminder.

Four or more years remaining

Yanni Gourde ($5.167M through 2024-25)

Philipp Grubauer ($5.9M through 2026-27)

Adam Larsson ($4M through 2024-25)

Jamie Oleksiak ($4.6M through 2025-26)

Jaden Schwartz ($5.5M through 2025-26)

Brandon Tanev ($3.5M through 2024-25)

Schwartz is coming off a tough season with the Blues, but he received that money with the expectation that he’ll get back to the level of play before that where he was a capable and consistent top-six forward.  He’s one of only a few players who have seen top-line duty and he’ll have that role in Seattle, so there will be a chance for him to live up to the deal.  Gourde played an instrumental role for the Lightning in their two Stanley Cup titles but did so in a bottom-six spot.  He won’t be in that role with the Kraken and should be their top center when healthy.  Can he produce in a top role?  If so, this could become quite a bargain in a hurry.  Tanev is on a premium deal for someone who has been a grinder for most of his career, but he has provided some production over the last three seasons to help justify the price tag.

Oleksiak earned a spot in Dallas’ top four for the first time last season and made the most of it, blowing past his previous high in average ice time while also setting a career-best in goals.  However, this deal was above market value from the moment it was signed, and giving that much in term and money to someone who has predominantly been on the third line carries some risk.  Clearly, they think he can be a top-four piece moving forward, and if that happens, they’ll get some return out of this contract.  Larsson hasn’t lived up to his draft billing (fourth overall in 2011), but he has become a quality shutdown defender.  Had he reached the open market and not signed in the expansion window, he’d have landed a similar deal elsewhere.

Grubauer joining Seattle was somewhat of a surprise, but it’s a good fit.  He was one of the top goalies in the league last season, which gave him plenty of leverage on the open market.  Whether he can carry the full workload of a starter remains to be seen — his career-high in games played came last season with 40 — which is where having Driedger on a higher-priced backup deal works as a quality, albeit largely unproven, insurance policy.

Buyouts

None (they weren’t allowed to buy anyone out this year)

Retained salary transactions

None

Still to sign

None

Best value: Jarnkrok

Worst value: Oleksiak

Looking ahead

With spending as little as they did in expansion, Seattle had plenty of cap space to use this summer and they opted to exclusively do so in free agency over taking on a contract or two in exchange for other assets.  That’s a decision that drew some ire right away but we’ll see over time if it was the right one.  They have ample cap space this season and that shouldn’t change for a little while.

Some of their longer-term commitments could become poor-value deals at some point, but as long as they don’t spend to the upper limit right away — it doesn’t look like that’s the plan — then it shouldn’t be an issue even if some of those players underperform.  As far as cap situations go, theirs is pretty clean.

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More must-reads:

  • Kraken sign veteran forward Scott Wilson to professional tryout
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  • Can you name every player who was selected in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft?

Related slideshow: The best possible fictional hockey team (Provided by Yardbarker)

The best possible fictional hockey team

Hollywood has given us many memorable fictional sports moments, especially when it comes to the great game of hockey, with classic teams and legendary players that we still talk about today.If we were to put a team together of fictional hockey players from film and television, here’s what it would look like.

Forward: Adam Banks (‘The Mighty Ducks’ franchise)

Banks is one of the most complete players on our team. He’s a strong two-way player, who won’t necessarily draw a lot of attention to himself unless it’s through his time on the ice. Our first introduction to Banks (Vincent Larusso) sensed a bit of standoffishness, but once he accepted that his ice time would come as a member of the Mighty Ducks instead of the revered Hawks, we started to warm to the young man.

Forward: Connor Banks (‘Mystery, Alaska’)

Banks is the star of the famed “Saturday Game” in this remote Alaskan community. According to Sports Illustrated, he’s known as the “cruise missile.” Connor Banks (Michael Buie) might be the fastest player on our club. A tremendous skater in the open ice and one fine puck handler, Banks would log plenty of minutes, potentially as a top-line center. He’s also apparently a successful grocer, but not a big fan of outsiders.

Forward: Ned Braden (‘Slap Shot’)

Apparently, Braden (Michael Ontkean) is one of the greats in the history of the Ivy League. He’s highly intelligent but shunned the corporate world for a shot at professional hockey. He’s the most talented player on the Charlestown Chiefs but has no appetite for the club’s goonish theatrics. His dry wit and sarcastic sense of humor should enable him to fit in well with this group.

Forward: Charlie Conway (‘The Mighty Ducks’ franchise)

If we’re talking the Mighty Ducks, Conway should be considered the face of the franchise. He’s a good-hearted kid, who has grown into his role as a team leader both on and off the ice. Charlie (Joshua Jackson) is a funny kid, but someone who truly cares about his teammates. That can go a long way in the dressing room in case the squad finds itself amid a rough stretch or needing a confidence boost.

Forward: Doug Dorsey (‘The Cutting Edge’)

There’s a time when Dorsey was considered the best amateur hockey player in the state of Minnesota. However, a head injury that left his peripheral vision hindered also ended his hockey career. While Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney) ended up enjoying a successful career as a pairs figure skater, he might be worth a couple of shifts per game on nights when he’s not a healthy scratch. The “Minnesota Machine” still could have something left to offer.

Forward: Reggie Dunlop (‘Slap Shot’)

The legendary Dunlop (late, great Paul Newman) serves many a purpose for our team. The longtime player-coach of the Charlestown Chiefs, Dunlap is the captain of our squad, and likely the face of the franchise. Reg won’t shy away from a radio or television interview and should be a favorite of those sportswriters (not sure if Dickie Dunn is still on the beat). He’s best days on the ice might be in the past, but Dunlop still provides plenty of value to this effort.

Forward: The Hanson Brothers (‘Slap Shot’)

We took some liberty here by including all three Hanson Brothers — Jeff (Jeff Carlson), Steve (Steve Carlson), and Jack (Jack Hanson). There is no doubt this “goon” trio will be the most popular group of players on our roster. However, it’s likely they will be healthy scratches most nights. Unless we’ve got a big game against Tim McCracken, Ogie Ogilthorpe, and the rest of those Syracuse punks. When their line is called, the Hansons will have the foil on and their opponents in their sights. Plus, they will always respect the playing of the national anthem.

Forward: Derek Sutton (‘Youngblood’)

Sutton (the late Patrick Swayze) was one of the best junior hockey players in the world during the mid-1980s. A pure scorer, Sutton was slated to be a high NHL draft pick until an on-ice head injury nearly ended his career. We assume — if there was ever a Youngblood sequel — we would see Sutton back on the ice. Maybe not his once-dominant self, but a serviceable member of this team nonetheless.

Forward: Paula Taymore (‘Hockey Mom’)

Taymore (Jessalyn Gilsig) is a hard-working single mom in the Calgary area. Still, she enjoys some rat hockey every now and then but does not like being put down, seemingly playfully, by the guys at the rink. So, after she brought together a group of talented women players to take on the men, Paula earned a spot on our club. She’s feisty and fierce, has a solid slap shot, and is always ready to throw an opponent into the boards.

Forward: Brandon Walsh (‘Beverly Hills, 90210’)

Even the move from Minnesota, where he was regarded as one of the best junior speed skaters in the Twin Cities, to Beverly Hills did not keep Brandon (Jason Priestley) from staying off the ice. While we did not see him at the rink often in California, when we did, Walsh was quite good. He’s a solid skater, an above-average passer with excellent vision, and a strong finisher.

Forward: Stevie Weeks (‘Mystery, Alaska’)

One of the youngest players on the team, Weeks is still a raw talent but he’s too good to be kept off this roster. Back in Mystery, Weeks (Ryan Northcott) turned heads while “skating the river.” Something that not only displays talent but strength. If there is one drawback to Weeks’ overall character is that he’s dating one of our coach’s daughter. Let’s hope that’s not a distraction.

Forward: Dean Youngblood (‘Youngblood’)

Just a teenager, Youngblood (Rob Lowe) is loaded with talent but needs a little fire and grit to complete his overall promise. Youngblood shined during his short time with the Hamilton Mustangs, but that was more than enough to make this team. Nobody is denying his scoring prowess, and now that he’s also willing to drop the gloves if needed, Youngblood has the potential to be a star. By the way, he’s also dating the daughter of another of our assistant coaches.

Defenseman: John Biebe (‘Mystery, Alaska’)

This wily veteran is a forward by trade, but John Biebe (Russell Crowe) will be shifted to defense on this team. He’s getting up in age and lost some of his burst, so one of our assistant captains seems better served along the blue line. Also the town sheriff in Mystery, Biebe is considered one of the greats in the history of the “Saturday Game” and someone for the young guys on the squad to emulate.

Defenseman: Dave ‘Killer’ Carlson (‘Slap Shot’)

“Killer” is not the most talented player on this team, but he might have the biggest heart. Carlson (Jerry Houser) is an overachiever, who has to work hard for his ice time. He’s a coach’s dream and will always stick up for his teammates. He’s also not afraid to get into a donnybrook and shed some blood. Dave’s only fault might be that he does not often wear a coat when going out to start his car during heavy storms.

Defenseman: Greg Goldberg (‘The Mighty Ducks’ franchise)

Goldberg (Shaun Weiss) began his playing career as a goalie, so if we ever need an emergency netminder, he could be the guy. In the meantime, Goldberg is expected to be a force on defense, especially when it comes to the penalty kill. Goldberg’s husky stature makes him a huge offensive obstacle in front of the net — especially when we find ourselves in those 5-on-3 situations.

Defenseman: ‘Tree’ Lane (‘Mystery, Alaska’)

A towering figure in front of the net, “Tree” (Kevin Durand) has the potential to be an imposing presence. That said, “Tree” can be a little too passive at times. He does not always take advantage of his size and stature, something that will be needed on the penalty kill or late in games. Maybe it’s because he’s just too nice a guy who does not want to offend anybody.

Defenseman: Ross ‘The Boss’ Rhea (‘Goon’)

Rhea (Liev Schreiber) is your typical hockey enforcer. He doesn’t really care much about scoring and has little offensive prowess on the ice. However, he’s an agitator and a brute. When we need a game to change from an emotional standpoint or light a collective fire under the team, “The Boss” is our guy. He might not be a blue-liner by trade, but this is where we’ll need him.

Defenseman: Derek Thompson (‘Tooth Fairy’)

Can you imagine the “Tooth Fairy” (Dwayne Johnson) standing in front of the net pushing smaller opponents away from the crease? Thompson, a cocky and ignorant enforcer, had to endure a long minor-league career before getting his shot with the Los Angeles Kings. He’s a natural forward, mostly on the wing, but since we have a lack of depth on defense, we will make the switch and hope for the best.

Goaltender: Julie ‘The Cat’ Gaffney (‘The Mighty Ducks’ franchise)

It’s quite possible “The Cat” (Colombe Jacobsen-Derstine) will be our No. 1 goaltender. Julie might also be the smartest player on our team, both on and off the ice. From her time with the Mighty Ducks and Team USA, we know “The Cat” is capable of coming through in the clutch. When the game is on the line and we need a big save, Gaffney is our girl.

Goaltender: Tommy Hanrahan (‘Slap Shot’)

Hanrahan (Christopher Murney) might not be the most dependable netminder on our roster, but we can probably use him in a pinch. He also has some apparent off-ice issues, especially regarding his wife, Suzanne. We’re not sure what the relationship will be like between him and former rival-turned-teammate Reg Dunlop, but maybe they’ll just need to drop the gloves in practice to settle some old scores.

Goaltender: Denis Lemieux (‘Slap Shot’)

One can stay Lemieux (Yvon Barrette) has a case of small man’s syndrome. He’s a hot-head, but also a bit misguided in his anger. He never really liked living and playing in Charlestown for the Chiefs, so maybe his play will improve with this team. Denis’s English is getting better, so at least he’s got that going for him. Lemieux is also always good for an interview when none of his teammates are available.

Head coach: Gordon Bombay (‘The Mighty Ducks’ franchise)

Much like his players with the Ducks, Bombay (Emilio Estevez) matured over time and became quite the successful hockey coach. He was able to take a group of overachievers and turned them into winners. Now, he will have plenty of talent to work with on this club, but we think he’s fiery and strong enough to deal with all the egos. Plus, we’ve surrounded Bombay with a couple of veteran assistant coaches to help the process.

Assistant coach: Judge Walter Burns (‘Mystery, Alaska’)

The Old Bear. Burns (Burt Reynolds) is a former “college 2A” standout, and also one of the more prominent judges in Alaska. We are apperceptive that he will devote his time to the club and assist Gordon Bombay. He can be a disciplinarian and takes an old-school approach to the game, but perhaps that’s what we need to keep everybody in line. We still don’t know how he feels about Stevie Weeks dating his daughter.

Assistant coach: Murray Chadwick (‘Youngblood’)

The epitome of old school. Chadwick is a hockey lifer. He’s seen it all as a player and a coach. Though he enjoyed some big-time success, Chadwick (the late Ed Lauter) seems most comfortable hanging around the bus leagues. Murray demands the best of his players and does not need to be bothered by whiners or weaklings. He’s a solid teacher of the game, who doesn’t have much patience. He’s also not a fan of Dean Youngblood going out with his daughter.

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CALGARY — Outshot by a large margin and chasing throughout the game, the Anaheim Ducks rallied for a 3-2 overtime win over the host Calgary Flames on Monday. © Provided ... Read more »

'It's an addicting feeling': Kyle Schwarber's grand slam sinks Astros in ALCS Game 3 as Red Sox keep rolling

BOSTON — They’ve gone from a maddening second-place team to a juggernaut,  punishment seemingly imminent as a well-earned walk gives way to a timely hit and then, of late, baseball’s ... Read more »

Maple Leafs fall in OT vs. Rangers in Auston Matthews' season debut

TORONTO – Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs arrived in casualwear yet were unable to take care of business — despite controlling the run of play. © Provided by ... Read more »

HOTN: Welcome To Calgary Blake Coleman

© Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images Highlight Of The Night Calgary Flames 2 – Anaheim Ducks 3 (OT) Well, as home openers go that one didn’t exactly go so well. ... Read more »