Hockey

Kraken focus on blue line, sign Larsson, Oleksiak

The Seattle Kraken used their exclusive negotiating window with unrestricted free agents to start building their roster ahead of Wednesday night’s NHL expansion draft reveal.

And they focused on defense.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal, and Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak came to terms on a five-year contract with an average annual value of $4.6 million, sources told ESPN. Both would have been top targets around the league had they hit the free-agent signing period.

But building the back line was a priority for general manager Ron Francis, and because both of those players were left exposed, Seattle used two of their 30 draft selections on them, as well as a sizable portion of their salary-cap space.

Larsson, 28, has rounded into the kind of defensive defenseman the Oilers hoped he’d become when they made a one-for-one-trade with the New Jersey Devils for Taylor Hall in 2016. There were expectations that Larsson would pair well with Edmonton’s newly acquired defenseman Duncan Keith, but Larsson opted for a change of scenery.

Oleksiak, 28, had six goals and 14 points for the Stars last season, finishing with a minus-3 rating. Dallas struggled in the shortened season, failing to make the postseason, but the Stars — anchored by their defense — advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in the postseason bubble in 2020, where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Oleksiak’s deal features a no-trade clause, sources told ESPN, through the 2023-24 season, and a modified no-trade clause — with 16 teams on his no-trade list — in the final two years of the pact.

Behind that new defense, in net, the Kraken will feature former Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger, who agreed to a three-year, $10.5 million deal before also becoming one of their 30 selections later in the night. Driedger, 27, had a breakout season with the Panthers, going 14-6-3 in 23 games with a .927 save percentage and a 2.07 goals-against average.

The Kraken had an exclusive negotiating window with unrestricted free agents from Sunday to Tuesday.

Source

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