NHL Free Agency: Seattle Kraken hit a statement home run with Grubauer addition

Philipp Grubauer #31 of Colorado Avalanche. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Philipp Grubauer #31 of Colorado Avalanche. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

What a way to start your first NHL Free Agency period for the Seattle Kraken.

Just days after wrapping up the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft and then the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Seattle Kraken dove headfirst into NHL Free Agency and they made quite the statement just a couple of hours after teams were permitted to conduct their business.

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With speculation raging as to where goaltender Philipp Grubauer would sign, the Kraken decided to spice Free Agency up by outdoing the Colorado Avalanche and signing the 2020-21 Vezina Trophy finalist to a six-year, $35,400,000 contract.

It was the kind of stunning, swing-for-the-fences-type move that we weren’t sure we would see from Seattle General Manager Ron Francis given how conservative he was when constructing his team in the Expansion Draft, but this transaction certainly put the rest of the NHL on notice.

The deal itself really is impressive when you look at it on its own, but when you really study it through a prism, then that’s when it hits home just how big a move this is for the Kraken ahead of their inaugural season in the NHL.

Philipp Grubauer (31)
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31). Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Seattle Kraken brilliantly swing for the fences with Philipp Grubauer signing

For starters, Grubauer had his choice of potential destinations once NHL Free Agency opened and, having narrowed his choice down to two teams, he opted to sign with an Expansion team in the Kraken rather than return to the Avalanche.

That in itself should prove emphatically that the Kraken are an immediate destination for Free Agents despite yet not having played a game, and it could persuade other players to sign in Seattle in the coming days.

Secondly, Grubauer was arguably the best goalie available on the open market having carved out an impressive couple of years in Colorado.

He went 18-12-4 with a .916 Save Percentage and a 2.63 Goals Against Average to go along with two shoutouts in 2019-20, but the 29-year-old’s best work without a doubt came last season for the Avs.

Grubauer played the best hockey of his career as he amassed a 30-9-1 winning record, posting a league-leading seven shutouts to go along with a stellar 1.95 Goals Against Average and a .922 Save Percentage.

He finished third in Vezina Trophy voting as a result, behind Andrei Vasilevskiy and eventual winner Marc-Andre Fleury, while he has established himself as one of the most reliable and elite netminders in the National Hockey League.

Philipp Grubauer
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Grubauer now gives Seattle a legit No. 1 starter and, with Chris Driedger as his backup, the Kraken can boast one of the best and most effective goalie tandems heading into their inaugural season and, as we all know, you can’t win in the NHL without elite goaltending.

Plus, Francis now has a high-end trade chip in goalie Vitek Vanecek, who was selected from the Washington Capitals in the Expansion Draft, and the 25-year-old could be used to acquire a piece that will help Seattle address other needs on this roster.

Sure, the Kraken are now committed to spending around $9 million on two goalies heading forward but, if both Grubauer and Driedger perform to their expected levels and help lead this team to the postseason in 2021-22, then it will be more than worth the price.

Again, you won’t go anywhere if you don’t boast a legit No. 1 starter and the Kraken now have their guy in Grubauer for the next six years, not to mention a high-end backup in Driedger who proved in 2020-21 that he’s capable of playing as a starter in the NHL.

Having also addressed their lack of forward depth by signing center Alexander Wennberg to a three-year, $15 million contract and veteran left-wing Jaden Schwartz to a five-year, $27,500,000 deal – yes, you can question the term and price of both – it has been a pretty good day for Seattle who may not be done yet given they have more than $15 million in cap space remaining, per CapFriendly.

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However, no matter what else they do from this point on, the Seattle Kraken have made one of the statements of NHL Free Agency by coming out of the shadows and weaponizing their cap space to sign an elite goaltender in the ilk of Grubauer, and it is a home run of a signing by Francis and the rest of the front office.