2 Trade Targets For the Seattle Kraken

The NHL's previous 30 teams learned their lesson from the Las Vegas expansion draft, and where once teams were using some players in bargains to keep others, when it came time for the Seattle Kraken to draft their inaugural roster teams were savvier to how it might be used against them. Look no further than the results seen during the Kraken's first season. Despite 5 of the 8 Pacific Divison teams currently being in the midst of a losing streak, the Kraken still sit at the bottom with an 11-23-4 record, with many of the teams ahead of them holding games in hand. Barring a massive turnaround that needed to start yesterday (to be fair, they did win over the Blackhawks yesterday), the Kraken are going to be sellers at the deadline. That may be for the best; a turnaround now would mean the NHL's newest team would need to reconsider signing some of their UFAs, using up valuable cap space. Instead, those UFAs will likely become rentals for the league's contending teams, and the Kraken will recoup picks and prospects as they build their team going forward. With that in mind, here are two players that could be acquired by Seattle in exchange for their rental pieces.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

When the Hurricanes signed Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet this summer, it was as much a signing to benefit their team as it was a bit of vengeance for Montreal's attempt to do the same with Hurricanes' star Sebastian Aho. However, where Aho has lived up to the $8.460 million contract he eventually signed in Carolina, Kotkaniemi hasn't been a $6.1 million dollar player for the Canes, which is what he was offered for a one-year deal. He's not a bad player, 7 goals and 16 points in 35 games; in fact, he'll probably end up having a career season this year when all is said and done. However, the Canes have just under $2 million in cap space to work with at the deadline, and that $6 million could be put to good use if it wasn't tied up in a guy who is currently centering their 4th line. The Kraken, meanwhile, have $13 million in cap space to play with. Plenty of room to add an underperforming RFA centreman into the mix. They'd have first bidding rights on Kotkaniemi's next contract, and while he may not ever become the #1 option he was drafted as by Montreal, he's still only 21-years old. There' is plenty of time for Kotkaniemi to become a top 6 player, and with the pressure of performing on a contending team removed from the equation, he'd have more time to grow into the role with Seattle.

Sam Steel

The Ducks have been very high on this player since they selected him 30th-overall in 2016. However, in one of the best drafts in recent history, Steel is slowly becoming a miss in the prospect department. For reference, Jordan Kyrou was selected 5 picks later, Alex DeBrincat was taken 9 picks later, Adam Fox 36 picks later, and the list goes on. Steel is not a bust by any means, he's an NHL player, but the top 6 option he looked like he'd develop into seems to be less and less likely as the years go by. He'll also probably set a career-high in goals this season, but when that career-high has been stagnant at 6 goals in each of the last 3 years, that's not exactly a tall order. The Ducks, meanwhile, have had a fantastic season, vastly outperforming the expectations placed on them in October. They currently sit in a playoff spot, and despite their current losing streak, most of the teams in their Division are on a similar skid, which is giving them lots of breathing room. If the Ducks are buying come the March deadline, Steel would be a valuable piece to add to any trade package, given his ceiling is still much higher than his current performance. That, and the Ducks have no lack of offensive skill on their roster, and many of the players key to their success this season will be in need of new contracts in the summer, including Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm. There's not a lot of room for Steel to seize a top spot, and Seattle could once again benefit by grabbing an underperforming RFA and giving him the room to grow and gain his confidence in the NHL. They have the cap room to extend him for a few more years, and Steel won't be pressured to help them compete for a Stanley Cup right away. Instead, he can take the time to learn from players like Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz, and Yanni Gourde - guys who have all gone deep in the playoffs several times in their recent careers - and develop into a valuable player at his own pace. He won't come cheap, the Ducks still see some potential in this player, but there's some benefit for both teams here.

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