Ron Francis signed a four-year contract as general manager of the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday. It runs until the 2026/27 season. His current contract expires after this season.
The 60-year-old has served as general manager since the Kraken joined the NHL as an expansion team for the 2021-22 season. Seattle earned a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that season and advanced to Game 7 of the Western Conference second round, where they lost 2-1 to the Dallas Stars. With a record of 46-28-8, the Kraken secured the first wild card of the west postseason, knocking out defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in seven games in the first round.
Seattle finished its first NHL season 27-49-6, the third-worst record in the league.
“Every year is different, every year is unique. There are always challenges,” Francis told NHL.com on April 11. “But I think it was definitely more enjoyable for us than in the first year.”
Francis was the GM of the Carolina Hurricanes from 2014-18 and worked in their front office for 12 seasons before the Kraken hired him on July 18, 2019. Seattle sat idle ahead of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline on March 3, but set NHL records for wins and points (100) for a sophomore team and for the greatest improvement from a team’s first to sophomore season (19 wins, 40 points). Seattle climbed 18 places in the table and has the second-best record this season behind the New Jersey Devils (up 25).
striker Jared McCann (40 goals) and center Matty Beniers (24) were the only two Kraken players to score more than 23 goals for a team that averaged 3.52 goals per game, tied with the New Jersey Devils for fourth place in the NHL. Beniers is along with the defender Owen Power by the Buffalo Sabers and the Edmonton Oilers goalie, Stuart Skinnerfinalist for the Calder Trophy, awarded to NHL Rookie of the Year.
“I think every GM’s goal is to make the playoffs,” Francis said. “It’s no different for me and my team. The most important thing for us is that we can improve compared to last year as a new franchise in a new market and show our fanbase that we’re getting better and moving in the right direction , that’s what we wanted to achieve, I might be lying a bit if I said I saw it go so well, but it is, and that’s a credit to our players and our coaching staff and the effort they put in to get to this point.”
Francis, a center who has played 22 NHL seasons, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007. He ranks fifth in league history with 1,798 points (549 goals, 1,249 assists) in 1,731 NHL games for the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. The two-time Stanley Cup winner with Pittsburgh (1991, 1992) is the second-best assisting player in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky (1,963).