Ron Francis reflects on his controversial expansion draft
The Seattle Kraken got off to a rocky start, but general manager Ron Francis stays the course and will continue to stick with the plan laid out before the expansion draft, beating down those who compare his team to the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Washington State club is currently in last place in the National League Pacific Division with a 10-19-4 record. A performance well below the Knights (51-24-7) during their inaugural season, which they had also concluded with a defeat in the Stanley Cup final.
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It was naive, however, in Francis’s eyes, to believe that the tour’s GMs would repeat their mistakes of 2017. At the time, they had unwittingly force-fed Las Vegas with trades to protect specific players.
“As these transactions were not on the table, we took a different approach and tried to maintain our space under the cap, which we still have as we review who might be available in the free agent market. “Explained Francis during an interview with the ESPN network on Tuesday.
Despite everything, Francis expected better.
Several factors may explain these failures. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly impacted the Kraken more since the fledgling organization cannot rely on the depth of other clubs in the affiliates.
But the Kraken’s setbacks curiously come from one of the aspects that seemed to be a strength before the start of the season, namely in goal. Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger do not offer the kind of performance expected at all, with respective efficiency rates of .882 and .892.
Grubauer is just entering a six-year, $35.4 million contract. Despite everything, Francis keeps the faith.
“If you look at his career, I think he also struggled to [faire la transition] between Washington and Colorado, he assessed. Listen, he’s a guy who was a finalist for the Vézina last year. I think if you talked to him he would say there are things he needs to be better at and he needs to make saves. But I still think he’s a goalkeeper who can be good for us in the future, if we build around him. »
Do not deviate
No question, thus, of changing the initial plans. Even less to panic.
« The plan from the start was to build from scratch and for the long term, » Francis said. Have a solid education. It is with this approach that we have selected the players. It is for this reason that we have kept space under the ceiling. So that hasn’t changed. »
“For us, the worst thing to do would be to panic and change our trajectory by giving away our strengths for a player who may, or may not, turn things around this year. The hardest part is sticking to the plan, drafting and developing well, and then trying to improve your team the way you can.”