This is just … SUCH old news, but I’ve been waiting for an opening where I didn’t have anything else to write about.
Anyway, Vince Dunn was signed to a 4-year extension, worth over $7 million per year. That’s a decent chunk of change; indeed, the biggest cap hit on the team next season. He’s a defenseman, coming off of his best year ever, and we avoid an arbitration hearing in the process by locking him up long term.
So, I hopped onto Spotrac to look at the state of things, since I really don’t know much about salary cap in hockey. I don’t know if I was necessarily expecting a huge offseason full of moves, but by the looks of things, the Kraken have less than a million dollars left in cap space. Other than filling in around the margins or minor leagues, I don’t foresee much in the way of free agent signings happening before the start of the season (which is in early October).
It’s interesting, then, to see the approach to building the 2023/2024 team. We’re largely the same as we were in 2022/2023. Which means, we’re kind of banking on this team growing organically. Young guys like Beniers making the leap in his second full season in the NHL, Andre Burakovsky staying healthy for the duration, and everyone just sort of gelling as this team without a mega-star, but lots of really solid dudes playing their specific roles perfectly.
And, if we look ahead, 10 out of our top 11 contracts are signed through 2025; only Jordan Eberle’s deal expires after this upcoming season among the most important Kraken players. I think that’s pretty great, as the Kraken build off of their first-ever playoff run. Having this kind of cohesion is vital for a hockey team.
It’s also, I think, valuable for the Kraken to be built this way – no mega-studs, lots of good, solid pros – if they’re going to continue to supplement through the draft. We don’t necessarily need to draft guys and play them right away. We can wait until they’re ready. And, when they are ready, we can bring them along slowly until they get their feet wet. It’s not like in other sports, where you’re largely throwing guys to the wolves right out of the gate.
I should point out that nothing the Kraken have done so far precludes them from making improvements via trade (other than the fact that Grubauer has a no-trade clause, and a number of other guys have modified no-trade clauses). I think that was on the minds of prognosticators heading into this offseason as a likely possibility, though I’m not aware of anything coming down the pike just yet. We’ll see.
If the team we have is the team we have, I won’t be upset. I think there’s natural growth to be had from the players already on our roster. I also don’t see why Grubauer couldn’t parlay a very good playoff run into further regular season success. He’s done it before! Maybe as the team around him continues to improve, it’ll unlock his natural ability to be a stone wall for us.