Game Notes: Edmonton Oilers @ Seattle Kraken
Photo credit:Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis11 months ago
Around this time last year, the Seattle Kraken were viewed as an easy win on the schedule. That isn’t the case this season.
1. The Kraken own an 18-11-4 record coming into Friday’s game. They’re tied with the Oilers with 40 points in the standings but they have three games in hand. Just like with the Battle of Alberta win from Tuesday night, this is a four-point game with Seattle.
2. Seattle had nowhere near the same amount of success in their inaugural season that the Vegas Golden Knights did back in 2017-18 when they busted into the league and raced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. But while the 2021-22 season was an ugly one for the Kraken, as they went 27-49-6, they started laying the foundation for success in the future.
Their draft in 2022 was highlighted by selecting Shane Wright with the No. 4 overall pick, giving the Kraken the possibility of a one-two punch down the middle of Matty Beniers and Wright for years to come. Seattle also made four picks in the second round and two in the third round and they already boast one of the stronger prospect groups in hockey.
3. With quite a bit of salary cap room to work with, the Kraken had a busy off-season over the summer. They inked Andre Burakovsky to a five-year deal and he now leads the team in scoring with 28 points. They also traded for two-way winger Oliver Bjorkstrand and they signed Justin Schultz to give them a defender who can produce offence from the blueline.
The biggest addition, though, has been rookie Matty Beniers, who Seattle selected at No. 2 overall at the 2021 NHL Draft with their first-ever pick. Beniers joined Seattle last spring after his season with the University of Michigan came to an end and he scored nine points over his first 10 games in the NHL. So far this season, he has 11 goals and 25 points over 33 games and is a good bet to win the Calder Trophy for the league’s top rookie.
4. Two former Oilers are doing very well for the Kraken this season.
Jordan Eberle, who was Seattle’s pick in the Expansion Draft from the New York Islanders, has 27 points through 33 games this season, which puts him on pace for his most productive campaign since he scored 76 for the Oilers back in 2011-12. He’s also tightened things up defensively. Eberle was in the red 56-to-47 in terms of on-ice goal differential last year and he’s in the green 30-to-21 so far this season.
Adam Larsson, who the Kraken selected from the Oilers, has been an absolute rock for them on the blue line. He’s logging a team-leading and career-high 24:04 per game and has a 34-to-24 on-ice goal differential at even strength. Larsson also has 13 points through 33 games, putting him on pace to set a new career-high in scoring. He’s never received a Norris Trophy vote before in his career and that should change this year.
The Oilers could really use Larsson right now, but nobody can blame him for wanting to move on after dealing with his father’s passing in Edmonton a few years ago. It’s great to see both Eberle and Larsson playing major roles on a young team like this.
5. As impressive as Seattle’s turnaround has been this season, there’s some reason to believe they could be doing even better if they got some goaltending.
They invested a six-year, $35.4 million contract in Philipp Grubauer after he finished third in Vezina Trophy voting while playing for the Colorado Avalanche during the pandemic-shortened 2021 season. Grubauer was a mess in 2021-22 and he’s struggled again this year to an .889 save percentage over 12 starts.
Martin Jones has been Seattle’s main starter this season and he has an .888 save percentage over 23 games.
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