Seattle Kraken could reunite Hakstol with North Dakota alumni
Last week, the Seattle Kraken announced their first head coach in franchise history, Dave Hakstol. The move comes just weeks before the expansion NHL Draft in 2021. Hakstol coached four seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers after compiling an impressive resume with the University of North Dakota (UND) from 2004 to 2015. .
Six former UND students who played for Hakstol are entering this offseason as unrestricted free agents (UFAs). Below, I explore the likelihood of each player reuniting with their former coach in the Emerald City.
All six UFAs I’m looking at played in North Dakota between the 2004-05 and 2014-15 seasons. They also played in this last season in the NHL and have accumulated at least a full season of NHL experience. UFAs like Austin Poganski, Luke Johnson and Paul LaDue do not meet these criteria and are therefore excluded.
Nor will I be talking about former UND students who are still under contract, such as TJ Oshie, Jonathan Toews, Brock Boeser and Zach Parise. Additionally, other than Tyson Jost, there are no notable Restricted Free Agents (RFA) who have played for Hakstol at UND. Here are the six FMUs:
Travis Zajac, Center
Zajac is by far the most experienced player on this list. The 36-year-old has registered 1,037 NHL games, scoring 203 goals and 349 assists for 552 points.
The longtime New Jersey devil is in the twilight of his NHL career, but if he signs a friendly deal with the team, he offers a lot of value. Zajac would make a respectable third-row cross as he’s strong in the face-off circle, forces turnovers and can still play offensively.
Last season between the Devils and the New York Islanders, he scored eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 46 games, averaging 16:26 on the ice. He won 51.4% of face-offs, had a 25/14 take-out ratio and recorded a 45.7 Corsi (CF%) percentage, despite starting only 40.7% of face-offs in the offensive zone.
Zajac played for Hakstol in the coach’s first two seasons in North Dakota, helping the team advance to the championship game in 2005 and the Frozen Four in 2006. He scored 35 goals and recorded 48 assists. for 83 points in 89 games.
He just completed an eight-year, $ 46 million contract ($ 5.75 million average annual value, or AAV) and, at age 36, will negotiate a deal more comparable to his performance over the past two seasons. The Islanders have a salary cap of around $ 5.79 million and face tough decisions regarding their advanced core before the expansion project; it is likely that Zajac will have to look elsewhere in 2021 (the stability of the “Islanders” list will be challenged this offseason, ”New York Post, 6/27/21).
Verdict: Zajac spent 15 years in the NHL and has yet to win the Stanley Cup. 15 years have also passed since he last played for Hakstol. If he has to negotiate a deal with another team, he will likely pick someone who can compete for a Cup in 2022, even if he is set to win much less.
Drake Caggiula, winger
Caggiula has registered 260 games in the NHL, scoring 44 goals and 42 assists for 86 points. Despite his 5-10, 176-pound frame, he can play a physical role, having racked up 524 career hits. He has shown good attacking potential at times, scoring 13 goals in 2017-18 and 12 goals in 2018-19.
Pickering, Ont. native played UND for Hakstol’s last three college seasons; the Fighting Hawks made the Frozen Four in two of those seasons. In 162 games, Caggiula recorded 62 goals and 65 assists for 127 points, increasing his number of scorers each season.
He just signed a one-year league minimum contract ($ 700,000) but has already earned a total of $ 3 million in the previous two seasons. The drop in productivity – one goal, six assists in 27 games – was a factor in the Arizona Coyotes’ waiver last season; the The Buffalo Sabers claimed it in April.
Verdict: Caggiula, 27, likely wants to find a semi-permanent home after bouncing off several underperforming clubs in recent seasons. That said, he only appeared in 78 games from 2019-21 and may not be able to negotiate a close to the $ 1.5 million AAV deal from previous seasons. Understanding this, he can choose to find Hakstol at an affordable price.
Carter Rowney, winger
The 6-foot-2, 206-pound Rowney is a massive force in the defensive zone. I review some key stats from the past two seasons below; note that oiSV% corresponds to the percentage of stoppage on ice.
- 2019-20: 70.1 dZS%, 91.2 oiSV%, 37.7 CF%
- 2020-21: 75.8 dZS%, 90.8 oiSV%, 35.4 CF%
While not glamorous, these numbers indicate how Rowney can limit the amount and quality of her opponents’ scoring chances. Conversely, he is two years away from his best offensive season, in which he scored seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points in 62 games, for an average of 12:33 on the ice.
Rowney played for Hakstol from 2009-10 through 2012-13, once reaching the Frozen Four. In 150 games played, he scored 32 goals and 41 assists for 73 points.
Verdict: Rowney just finished a three-year, $ 3.4 million ($ 1.3 million AAV) contract but only appeared in 19 games with the Anaheim Ducks in 2020-21. At 32, his chances of staying with an NHL club are in danger of dwindling. Still, he could still sign with Seattle for the league minimum and compete for a rotating spot in the bottom six.
Derek Forbort, defender
Forbort is a typical stoppage defenseman, spending the majority of his time in his own zone and frequently blocking shots – 606 in 331 career NHL games. Perhaps his greatest strength is his shorthanded durability, as he led the Jets with 2:42 shorthanded time on the ice in 2020-21. His strongest offensive season came in 2017-18, during which he scored one goal and 17 assists in 78 games.
The 29-year-old defenseman just signed an affordable, one-year, $ 1 million deal with the Jets. Prior to that, he had earned $ 5.05 million over two seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. In 115 games with Hakstol at UND, he has scored six goals and 39 assists for 45 points.
The Jets will likely protect defensemen Josh Morrissey and RFA Neal Pionk for the next expansion draft. This leaves them the option of protecting another defender – likely Dylan DeMelo – while still making room to sign Forbort or Tucker Poolman (from the offseason depth chart “Analyzing the Jets”: Free agency needs, opportunities for prospects. , Kraken baits and more, ‘L’Athletic, 6/25/21).
Verdict: I think the Jets will probably want to negotiate a new contract with their top penalty killer – and a player who averaged 20:45 TOI despite making just $ 1 million last year. That said, Winnipeg could be on the hunt for bigger fish to fortify its blue line, freeing up a player like Forbort to find a new home with the Kraken.
Tucker Poolman, Defender
A teammate of Forbort, the less experienced Poolman does not statistically excel in one facet of his defensive game. That’s not to say he’s a handicap, because his plus / minus career is a minus-1. On the contrary, his career of 92.2 oiSV%, of which 93.5 oiSV% in 2020-21, could attract a few general managers.
Poolman has only appeared in 120 games, including 39 in 2020-21. His best offensive season came in 2019-20 when he scored four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 57 games, averaging 17:27 on the ice. His ice time dropped to 6:18 pm in 2020-21, but he registered only one assist.
Poolman only played one season for Hakstol in 2014-15, totaling 18 points and a plus-4 differential in 40 games. In 118 games at UND, he registered 20 goals and 52 assists for 72 points and a plus-44 rating.
Verdict: The 28-year-old defenseman just finished a three-year, $ 2.325 million contract with an AAV of $ 775,000, just $ 225,000 less than Forbort. If a superior defender like Forbort is available, then Seattle will offer a bigger contract for that caliber of player. Still, if Forbort stays in Winnipeg, Hakstol and general manager Ron Francis will likely consider Poolman.
Aaron Dell, goalkeeper
Dell just completed a one-year $ 800,000 contract with the Devils through the Toronto Maple Leafs. In seven games, he has compiled a save percentage of 0.857 (SV%) and a goals against average of 4.14 (GAA). These numbers may seem excruciating, but the Devils’ defense has demonstrated its own need for improvement; after all, franchise prospect Mackenzie Blackwood only recorded an SV% of 0.902 and an GAA of 3.02.
Dell’s best season was in 2016-17 with the San Jose Sharks; the 6-foot, 205-pound goalie recorded an SV% of 0.931 and 2.00 GAA. Those numbers and the following season got him a two-year, $ 3.8 million contract to support Martin Jones.
Dell played three seasons for Hakstol at UND. His best season came in 2010-11, when he recorded an SV% of .924 and GAA of 1.79 with six shutouts in 40 games.
Verdict: Dell has spent the past two seasons behind below-par defenses but, at 32, can probably still put up some respectable numbers. I think he will have to come up with an offer close to the $ 800,000 he won last season if he is to find Hakstol.
The Kraken have a few opportunities to make reasonable deals with the UFA UNDs I just mentioned. None of these six players are destined to take a starring role in Seattle’s inaugural campaign, but can help complete the roster’s depth – while also pushing other players to elevate their game and compete for a spot in the roster. training.
Depending on Hakstol’s interest, Francis might also consider reuniting his head coach with players who might otherwise be out of the market. Oshie, Troy Stecher and Rocco Grimaldi could be at the forefront of these discussions.
Nick covers the Seattle Kraken for THW. At his alma mater, the University of Santa Clara, he was a sports editor for the campus newspaper, but took the time to cheer on his nearby San Jose Sharks. His professional background spans reporting, writing and video production for sports, games and tech brands.