As the Stanley Cup Final continues, the Seattle Kraken experienced the sort of week that most teams do at this time of year when they are not competing for a banner. Some young players are signed, staffers leaving the franchise for career opportunities, and the club’s name is included in conversations about significant players on other rosters who may be on the move soon. Let’s recap the talking points, both big and small, that involved the Kraken this past week.

Kraken Sign Oscar Fiskar Molgaard to Entry-Level Contract

As general manager Ron Francis and his staff gear up for the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, the club has formalized business relations with one of the prospects it selected one year ago in Nashville. Dane Oscar Fisker Molgaard, taken 52nd overall, has been signed to an entry-level contract for three seasons with an average annual value of $950,000.

Related: Seattle Kraken’s 3rd Round Options at 2024 Draft

The 19-year-old center hails from Frederikshavn, Denmark. He has played in Europe his entire life for teams in leagues such as J18 Nationell, J20 Nationell, and most recently a club named HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League. In 2022-23 he tallied seven points for HV71 (four goals and three helpers) and boosted those figures to 21 points in 2023-24 courtesy of nine markers and 12 assists. 

His newly minted status as an official Kraken center adds intrigue to the possibilities in store next season. For most of the present campaign, they operated with Matty Beniers, Yanni Gourde, Jaden Schwartz, and Alex Wennberg as the main centers. As most know, Wennberg is now a New York Ranger. Beniers needs a new contract – he is a restricted free agent on July 1. Gourde has one year left on a deal that pays him $5.16 million before his status to unrestricted free agency in July 2025. What’s more, the 2023-24 season witnessed Seattle give some pro-level ice time to recent draftees Shane Wright and Logan Morrison. 

They can’t all be top liners, but it never hurts a franchise to keep its options open by having a player under contract for a modest figure.

Jay Leach Leaves for the Boston Bruins

A few weeks ago when the Kraken’s head coaching position was still vacant, I wrote an article about viable candidates. Dan Bylsma – who got the job – felt like an obvious choice given his ties to Seattle’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate club, the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Another name was Jay Leach, who worked alongside Bylsma’s predecessor, Dave Hakstol since the franchise first played in 2021. 

Jay Leach, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It was made official on June 12 that Bylsma will have an assistant coach vacancy to fill. Not because Seattle fired Leach, but rather because the Boston Bruins lured him back to their neck of the woods. It’s been said that the Kraken’s stout defensive play had a lot to do with Leach’s teachings. He was also in charge of coaching up the penalty-killing units. While it is unfortunate to see someone leave, a new head coach often brings in people they have worked with. Not only that, but Leach may have been chuffed by Boston inquiring about him since he spent five seasons leading the Providence Bruins, their AHL affiliate. Home is where the heart is.

Patrik Laine to the Kraken?

Anyone browsing The Hockey Writers’ top articles this Saturday might have spotted Mark Scheig’s news roundup. Among the talking points was that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine wants to play for another team. 

It didn’t take long for other publications to rattle off team names as possible destinations for the 26-year-old Finnish attacker. Julian Gaudio of The Hockey News wrote an article about Seattle possibly engaging in conversations with Columbus for a possible trade.

Laine’s story and, more importantly, his baggage, is far from simple. He has not played an NHL match since December in part due to injuries, but he also entered the league’s Player Assistance Program. That’s both a good thing (seeking help is the first step towards improvement) and a bad one. Scratch that. “Bad” is a bit dramatic. Suffice it to say that Seattle would have to do extra homework to figure out if the club and Laine could be a good fit. At the risk of sounding obvious, proceed with caution. 

There is no question that his first four seasons with the Winnipeg Jets were solid. He never scored fewer than 28 goals and even hit 44 in 2017-18. Unfortunately, he was dealt to the Blue Jackets at almost the worst time. The side had experienced a couple of decent campaigns that led to playoff participation, but the team’s downfall was beginning. Personal off-ice issues surfaced, the injury bug bit him, and his statistics have never been the same since his days in Winnipeg. 

It says a lot when, two years after signing a four-year contract, a player wants out. Again, it could also say a lot about the dire straits the Blue Jackets are in – to be fair, they don’t look great these days – but it’s also been rough for Laine. It could boil down to how desperate the Kraken are to give their moribund offense a jolt.

That wraps up the stories coming out of Seattle. The draft is only weeks away, as is free agency, so there will surely be whispers and rumors about Kraken summertime activity between now and then. It will also be interesting to see how the Calder Cup Final plays out. At the time of writing, the Firebirds lead their series 1-0 against the Hershey Bears. We shall soon find out if Seattle’s coach caps off his AHL career with a championship.

Substack The Hockey Writers Seattle Kraken Banner


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here