Kraken sign GM Francis to 3-year extension


SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken signed general manager Ron Francis to a three-year contract extension Wednesday through the 2026-27 season after the franchise reached the second round of the NHL playoffs in its second year of existence.

Hired to be the first GM in franchise history, Francis navigated through a difficult first season and helped land the players who turned Seattle into a playoff team in the second year without mortgaging future opportunities or putting the Kraken into challenging salary cap situations.

“Ron has done remarkable work over the last four years and deserves this recognition,” Seattle co-owner Samantha Holloway said. “He has built a tremendous team, putting Seattle hockey on the map. He is building for long-term success and is dedicated to our city, our fans and our community.”

Seattle is the second stop for Francis as an executive after spending seven seasons in the front office of the Carolina Hurricanes. With Carolina, Francis started as director of hockey operations before becoming the GM in 2014. Francis was let go by the Hurricanes after the 2018 season.

Seattle jumped at the chance to bring the Hall of Fame player in to lead the front office. The team’s expansion season was a major underachievement, with the Kraken going 27-49-6 and finishing last in the Pacific Division with 60 points. But Francis was able to move veteran players to stockpile draft picks and left enough salary cap room to make some key moves entering the second season.

Seattle signed free agent forward Andre Burakovsky, traded for winger Oliver Bjorkstrand and inserted rookie Matty Beniers into the lineup on Seattle’s top line from the first day of the season. The results on the ice couldn’t be argued. Seattle went 46-28-8 and reached 100 points, then knocked off defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Dallas in seven games in the conference semifinals.

Francis also stuck with coach Dave Hakstol after that difficult first season. Hakstol might be next in line for a contract extension from the team after a season in which he was recognized as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for top coach in the league.

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