Pacific Preview: Seattle Kraken looking to build on breakout season
Photo credit:Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
The newest team in the league has already made the playoffs – and they’re looking to do it again.
In just their second season in existence, the Seattle Kraken broke out with a 46-28-8 record and beat the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round before coming just one win shy of reaching the Western Conference Final.
We’ve previewed the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames. Next up, we’ll look at the Kraken.
Seattle’s 2022-23 season:
Goals For: 289 (6 of 32)
Goals Against: 256 (15 of 32)
The two most recent National Hockey League expansion drafts have been beneficial to the new teams, as the Vegas Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season, while Seattle nearly made it to the Western Conference Finals (to face Vegas) in just their second season.
So what worked for Seattle? It was scoring by committee for the Kraken last season as they lacked a true superstar. Vince Dunn was their highest point-getter, scoring 40 goals and finishing with 70 points.
In fact, they had 13 players with 30 or more points, with former Oilers Jordan Eberle (63), Justin Schultz (34), and Adam Larsson (33) all hitting the 30-point mark. Their first-ever pick, Matthew Beniers, went on to win the Calder Trophy, scoring 24 goals and 57 points in 80 games.
It took until Game 7 for the Dallas Stars to defeat the newly formed team, winning the game 2-1. What moves did the Kraken make to put themselves back into contention?
Notable Additions: Kailer Yamamoto, Brian Dumoulin, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Notable Subtractions: Daniel Sprong, Morgan Geekie, Ryan Donato, Carson Soucy, Martin Jones
The most notable loss for Seattle was Daniel Sprong signing with the Detroit Red Wings. The Dutch-born 26-year-old had a career year, scoring 21 goals and 46 points in 66 games. They didn’t really add anyone via free agency or trade, but they could find that production through Shane Wright.
Morgan Geekie (28 points) and Ryan Donato (27 points) are both mid-20-year-old players who play best in the bottom six. They signed elsewhere and Seattle signed home-state player and former Oiler Kailer Yamamoto to a cheap one-year deal. The 2021-22 season was a career-best for Yamamoto, scoring 20 goals and 41 points in 81 games, before dealing with injury in 2022-23.
To replace the loss of Carson Soucy, the Kraken brought in Brian Dumoulin. Last season was a career-best for the 32-year-old defenceman, scoring a goal and 25 points in 82 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Last season, a lot went right for the Kraken, as the team remained relatively healthy. They still lack a true superstar, but Jared McCann and Vince Dunn have broken out into pretty darn good players.
Beniers is entering his second full season, and it’s a big one for him. The former second-overall pick could very well become Seattle’s best player in 2023-24. Moreover, Shane Wright will start his first full professional season in 2023-24. Last year, he had a goal and an assist in eight NHL games, and four goals and two assists in eight AHL games, and also 37 points across 20 OHL games. He was recently reassigned to Seattle’s AHL team but should be back up at some point.
On paper, this team looks like they’ll contend for a wild card position as they did last season. However, hockey isn’t played on paper, and they could be a team that exceeds expectations if they play as they did in 2022-23.
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