This wasn’t quite the impact move many expected, but the Kraken has agreed to a three-year, $13.5 million deal with free-agent center Alexander Wennberg.
Pierre LeBrun of TSN first reported the deal. Wennberg, 26, a 6-foot-2, 197-pound native of Sweden, scored an impressive 17 goals and added 12 assists for in 56 games for a playoff-bound Florida Panthers team last season.
“Alexander is coming off of his best goal-scoring season to date and gives us an offensive-minded center down the middle,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said. “He’s still young and we think he has room to grow even further as he has taken large strides in each of his last few seasons. We like his combination of size and skill and think he will fit well with our group.”
And the Kraken apparently isn’t done trying to add players, with ESPN analyst Kevin Weekes tweeting Wednesday the team is “making some traction” trying to land goalie Philipp Grubauer, a mainstay of recent Colorado Avalanche playoff teams. The Kraken has goalies Chris Driedger and Vitek Vanecek as a tandem at present, but you’d have to think Vanecek would be moved as part of a trade if Grubauer is brought in to be the No. 1 guy.
As for Wennberg, the former first-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets has averaged nearly a half-point per game over 471 NHL contests. So, there is some production there and he should also help the Kraken on the penalty-kill, as he’s known for his two-way play.
And the Kraken is getting him for a relatively low cost — compared to bigger names at the position — over midrange contract term.
For a team short on centers, especially with Yanni Gourde to miss the start of the season after shoulder surgery, it’s definitely a start.
Many of the bigger free agent names out there have already come off the board. The Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night agreed to a seven-year, $56-million deal with winger Gabriel Landeskog, while on Wednesday, former Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos — now with the Line Movement website — reported the New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Dougie Hamilton away from the Carolina Hurricanes for a seven-year contract worth north of $60 million.
The Calgary Flames reportedly signed forward Blake Coleman for six years, $29.4 million and defenseman Tyson Barrie is said to have agreed to a three-year, $13.5 million extension with the Edmonton Oilers.
As of now, including the Wennberg deal, the Cap Friendly website projects the Kraken has just more than $27 million in salary cap space remaining against the $81.5 million upper limit. That does not include players under contract expected to not be on the NHL roster.
It also does not include restricted free agents the team has given qualifying offers.
The Kraken as of now has only four players on contracts of at least four more seasons — center Gourde, winger Brandon Tanev and defenseman Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak. Oleksiak is the only player with a contract of at least five years.
This story will be updated.