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5 Things to Watch for in NHL Free Agency if you are a Seattle Kraken fan

Free agency is upon us and, even though the Seattle Kraken will not be participating, there are still things to keep an eye on this year that could impact the Kraken down the road.

Here are my top 5 things to keep an eye on during free agency.

The NMC

Look for any players signing deals that have a Full No-Move Clause (NMC). NMC’s are generally reserved for the cream of the crop of free agent players. A NMC means that the team must protect the player in next summer’s Expansion Draft. It is highly likely that these players would be protected without the NMC, but the NMC will limit teams’ options. Anything that restricts other teams’ options and flexibility should be considered a good thing for Seattle.

Cap Crunch teams

All teams will be impacted by the flat salary cap related to COVID-19 lost revenues, but the more teams spend to the cap, then the more vulnerable these teams will be during the Expansion Draft. This could benefit Seattle during the Expansion Draft in 2 ways:

  1. Teams could expose some high-value, high-cap-hit players with the hopes that Seattle selects these players to shed some salary cap. Of course, this doesn’t mean Seattle will select this player, so let’s go to #2.
  2. Similar to what happen in the Vegas Expansion Draft, teams could negotiate side deals with Seattle to shed some high salary players in an effort to create more salary cap space to sign pending RFAs or other UFAs in 2021. Anaheim traded Shea Theodore to Vegas for taking Clayton Stoner and Winnipeg traded a 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick for in exchange for Vegas selecting Chris Thorburn
    Bottom line we want teams to spend to their limit.

Shea Theodore was traded to Vegas from Anaheim as compensation for Vegas selecting Clayton Stoner in the 2017 Expansion Draft. (Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire)

Goalies Carousel

This is certainly the trendy topic leading into the free agency period and for good reason. This year will probably see the most goalies change teams that the league has ever seen in any prior offseason. There are some high-profile goalies that will change teams this year. Corey Crawford (CHI), Jacob Markstrom (VAN), and Braden Holtby (WAS) are likely to change homes. For the 30 teams participating in the 2021 Expansion Draft (Vegas is exempt), each team will only be able to protect one goalie, so goalie signings this free agent period should give us a better sense of which goalies get exposed in the upcoming expansion draft next summer.

Short Term Deals

Keep an eye out for short term deals, as in really short. The scenario here is that a big time free agent signs a one-year deal with the hopes of either winning a championship with a well-positioned team or the player might take a one-year deal with the hope that they can sign a more lucrative deal with a team that has a lot of cap space…as in Seattle. This would be the Taylor Hall to Colorado on a 1-year deal.

Crowded Blue Lines

Alex Pietrangelo (STL), Torey Krug (BOS), Tyson Barrie (TOR), Kevin Shattenkirk (TBL), TJ Brodie (CGY), and Sami Vatanen (CAR) are all likely to find new homes in free agency. Wherever they sign, odds are decent that they will be protected, which means that some other defender will be exposed. There are several teams that already have some interesting decisions to make regarding who to protect on the blue line in the upcoming Expansion Draft. Having more teams with crowded blue lines will expose more talent and will be better for Seattle.

Several of these scenarios might not play out and we still expect some more roster movement leading up to the 2021 Expansion Draft, but we are starting to put the cake in the oven. We should have a better idea how it will turn out very shortly during this free agency period.

John Barr
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