More Seattle Domain Updates: Seattle Kraken HC?

I was talking with a friend about the new NHL Seattle team earlier today, grumbling about how, given how many times the name announcement has been delayed, at this rate the team would launch as “Seattle HC,” short for Hockey Club.

After a minute, though, my friend suggested that the “HC” suffix might not be as ridiculous as it was meant to be.  Seattle’s MLS entry is Seattle Sounders FC, after all, though MLS features many teams with “European-style” names that include “FC” or “SC.”  Nonetheless, it seemed like it was worth a look, and something interesting did come up.

SeattleKrakenHC.com was registered privately on November 26, 2019.  While we can’t see who owns it, we can see that it was updated last week, at 5:47 PM (UTC) on February 20, 2020.

That date stuck out to me because it’s the same time that several of the domains confirmed to be owned by the Seattle NHL ownership group were updated.

Those updates were confusing at the time because the names that were updated didn’t seem to match any kind of pattern.  While there is still no apparent pattern, the timing does seem to imply that SeattleKrakenHC.com is also owned by Seattle Hockey Partners, having been updated in a batch with the others.

Given the existence of this domain and the rumors already present about the Kraken team name, we may be looking at the team’s official name being “Seattle Kraken HC.”

It’s worth noting that, of the 13 team names from their original list of domains in 2018, the only other one represented by a domain in the form of SeattleTeamnameHC.com is the Sockeyes.  However, that domain was registered a week after SeattleKrakenHC.com and was not updated on February 20th.  That doesn’t mean the domain is not owned by Seattle Hockey Partners, just that there’s no visible tie there.

It’s also worth noting that the organization does not seem to currently own SeattleKraken.com, though it’s always possible that they’ve reached a deal to acquire that domain.  Naming the team Seattle Kraken HC could help them get around the need for it.

Red Wings Send Athanasiou to Edmonton

With just under two hours left before the NHL’s trade deadline on Monday, the Detroit Red Wings traded winger Andreas Athanasiou to the Edmonton Oilers, along with Ryan Kuffner, for Sam Gagner and two second round picks.

I know there are a lot of people pointing at Athanasiou and saying “What could you expect for a slumping forward who doesn’t play defense?”  And there’s truth to that.

But what I said last night and what I’ve said year after year is that I’m tired of this team not being able to make strong sales at the deadline.  This is going to be the Red Wings’ big move and it brings back two second round picks, probably in the 45th to 55th overall range.

Are there good players available in that range?  Of course.  Yzerman plucked Nikita Kucherov from there in 2011.  But it’s much less of a sure thing.  And, given Detroit’s draft history rather than Yzerman’s, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to pick in a position with a little more confidence than they will be picking.  Because in that same 2011 second round, Detroit had three picks before Yzerman grabbed Kucherov, and the Red Wings came away with Tomas Jurco, Xavier Ouellet, and Ryan Sproul.

In short, I know that two second round picks aren’t a bad return for Athanasiou, but as a fan of the Red Wings, I’ve been burned on the whole idea of picking a bunch of times in the second or third round enough that I don’t trust it.

All that said, two seconds was the price Detroit set, and Edmonton matched it, so I can’t really say the Wings’ got screwed if that was the deal they were always looking for.

As for the rest of the trade…  Kuffner I don’t care about and Gagner is a warm body coming back the other way, clearing some cap space for Edmonton.

Red Wings Add Forward Timashov via Waivers

With the NHL’s trade deadline approaching the Detroit Red Wings made a roster addition without giving a player up in claiming Dmytro Timashov via waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The move comes after the Red Wings claimed defenseman Cody Goloubef from Ottawa via waivers on Friday.

Timashov had reportedly requested a trade from Toronto, where he was averaging 8:06 of playing time per game.

In 39 games played with the Leafs, he had four goals and five assists for nine points with a 11.8% shooting percentage.  He scored 49 points for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies last season.

 

Red Wings Send Green to Oilers

The Detroit Red Wings made their first move of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline with about 14 hours before the deadline itself, sending Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers for a fourth-round draft pick.

Forward Kyle Brodziak also comes to Detroit, but that part of the transaction is purely paper as Brodziak has been on LTIR all season and will not play for the Red Wings, with his contract expiring this summer.

Per Max Bultman of The Athletic, the fourth-round pick in 2020 becomes a third-round pick in 2021 if the Oilers make the Western Conference Finals with Green playing in at least half of Edmonton’s playoff games in the first two rounds.

The Red Wings will retain 50% of Green’s salary for the remainder of the season.

I think a fourth-round pick was the best the Wings could have expected in return for Green.  Retaining salary is not a problem as the Red Wings have the cap space to accommodate it but I really wish that retaining salary had been enough to get the pick up to a third-rounder.  I don’t think the Oilers will make the Conference Finals so I don’t see the conditions kicking in to do that.

As I wrote just moments ago, it’s disappointing that Green, thought to be able to bring Detroit a first-round pick two years ago, is now only worth a fourth-rounder.  That said, I’m glad they were able to move him at all.

Pre-Deadline Thoughts

We’re about 16 hours away from the NHL trade deadline and the thought that keeps coming into my head is how disappointing it all is.

Traditional thinking about the trade deadline is that rebuilding teams will sell off their expiring veteran contracts in return for assets to help the rebuild.  This is nothing new.  In the coming hours, the Red Wings will attempt to do that.  It’s the NHL’s circle of life.

But while the names of Mike Green and Trevor Daley get thrown around as possible trade targets, the name generating perhaps the most buzz is Andreas Athanasiou.  I can’t help but think that it’s a sign of how dysfunctionally constructed this team is that, because their veterans have so little value, to fuel the rebuild the Red Wings must look at dealing a 25-year-old pending restricted free agent.

Trade deadlines haven’t gone exactly to plan since the Red Wings started their rebuild.

In 2017, the big trade piece out of Detroit was supposed to be Thomas Vanek, who ended up only fetching a third round pick and Dylan McIlrath when a market never developed.  Moving Vanek, Steve Ott, Brendan Smith, and Tomas Jurco cleared roster spots and got at least something in return for a handful of pending free agents, but there were no first-round picks or top prospects coming back.

In 2018 that was supposed to change as Green would be a pending free agent and, clearly, the former NHL All-Star would draw interest.  Instead, Green spent the deadline injured and then-GM Ken Holland was forced to deal Tomas Tatar.

Now, let me be clear, the return for Tatar was fantastic.  But it needed to be in moving a 27-year-old with three more years left on his deal.  And it didn’t negate the disappointment of being unable to move Green.

Last year Gustav Nyquist and Nick Jensen may have been on the younger side of players you’d expect to move out during a rebuild but they were both pending unrestricted free agents, so moving them made sense.  Again, though, no marquee piece came back.  And again, no market formed for other Red Wings veterans such as Jimmy Howard and Niklas Kronwall.

Finally, we come to this year, where the Red Wings have Green again available, as well as Daley.  Howard is again a pending unrestricted free agent, as is Jonathan Ericsson.  But no body seems to want any of them because their games have fallen off a cliff.  So, much like 2018, in order to escape this deadline having acquired anything of value for the rebuild, Athanasiou has to be made available.

Maybe Athanasiou brings back something like Tatar did.  I can’t see it happening, though.  What I don’t want to see is Athanasiou bringing back the third round pick that Vanek got (or even the second and third round picks that Nyquist got) and the Wings feeling forced to make that move simply because they have no other moves to make.

The feeling I’m getting right now, though, is that feeling of disappointment.  The feeling that there won’t be a market for any of the Wings’ players and they’ll have to settle a bad deal just to come out of the deadline with anything.

Red Wings Add Goloubef via Waivers

The Detroit Red Wings acquired veteran defenseman Cody Goloubef from the Ottawa Senators via waivers on Friday.

The move allowed them to send blueliner Brian Lashoff, who had been called up on Thursday night after Filip Hronek was placed on injured reserve, back to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Given the Red Wings’ injury scenario this season, it’s unsurprising that the team would want to carry eight defensemen right now.  With the trade deadline on Monday, I’m sure the team is hoping to have unloaded some of their defensemen for draft picks.

That said, this feels like the Eric Comrie trade to me.  What good is your farm team if it can’t provide players for short-term injury relief?

I’m sure some would say that there’s value in keeping the Griffins’ lineup together, I just don’t buy it that much.  But, unlike Comrie, Goloubef comes for free, so while I don’t see the need for the claim, I’m also not concerned about it.

On the AHL’s Nationwide Footprint

With this week’s news that the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights had reached an agreement to purchase the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, intending to relocate the team to the Las Vegas area, I got to thinking about the AHL’s alignment.

I should say I got to thinking about it again, because every year when the league’s schedule comes out, I find myself questioning why the teams of the AHL even bother operating as a single league.

This season the Grand Rapids Griffins play a 76-game schedule.  Of those games, 76% are against teams in their own division.  They play the Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford Ice Hogs ten times each, meaning over a quarter of the Griffins’ schedule is made up of two opponents.  They play eight games against the Pacific Division and ten against the Eastern Conference, with six of those being against relatively-nearby Toronto and Cleveland.

The Springfield Thunderbirds, meanwhile play inside their division for 79% of their games.  They play the entirety of their schedule inside the Eastern Conference, which doesn’t span any further west than Cleveland.

As much as I – as a Griffins fan – might get sick of seeing Milwaukee seemingly every other weekend, this scheduling format makes sense.  The AHL might be a nationwide league but this is still minor-league hockey.  Teams can save money by playing only the opponents closest to them.  At least it’s not as bad as when the Pacific Division was playing a completely different number of games as the rest of the league.

The difference between the divisions is only going to be worse, though, when Seattle’s affiliate in Palm Springs comes on line.  With the Rampage off to Vegas and Palm Springs operating, a four-division alignment would see the Colorado Eagles join the Central Division.  This would give the league one division for the Pacific, two divisions for the Atlantic, and a Central Division spread out over the entire rest of the continent, from Colorado Springs to Grand Rapids and Winnipeg to Austin.

With this in mind, the question to me is, is there a need for a nationwide “AAA”-level hockey league?

To be clear, I’m not saying that the AHL should collapse back to its northeastern roots.  The league got this way because NHL teams want their affiliates in easy-to-reach locations.  What I’m saying is that maybe there doesn’t need to be one league to solve that.  Having the International League and the Pacific Coast League separate works for baseball, after all.

Perhaps the current Pacific Division could become a ten-team league by adding Palm Springs and the Texas teams (with the Rampage having become the Silver Knights along the way), a reborn WCHL.  The remaining Central Division teams could replenish their ranks by adding Cleveland and Charlotte as yet another iteration of the IHL.  This would leave the AHL core from the Eastern Conference intact as a 14-team league.  Toronto and Belleville could join the Central teams to even things out better if needed.

Of course, all of baseball is run under one umbrella, something that is not the case for hockey.  While it’s easy to look at a map and see not one AHL but instead a WCHL, an IHL, and an AHL, the NHL may not want to deal with three individual leagues.  A single league may prevent teams from getting out of line.  Remaining a single league would certainly prevent what happened with the IHL of the 1990s, attempting to rise up to challenge the NHL.

I can’t help but think those issues could be handled, however.  While minor league hockey doesn’t have the umbrella organization that minor league baseball does, perhaps the creation of such an umbrella would be a part of this shift.  In my mind, this would also eliminate the issues that led to the fall of the original WCHL and IHL.

That said, perhaps I’m seeing problems that just don’t exist.  I can’t shake the feeling, though, that the American Hockey League is three smaller leagues in a trenchcoat.