Seattle Kraken '22-'23 Breakdown
September 29th, 2022
27-49-6 (60 Points)
Goals For: 216 (29th)
Goals Against: 285 (24th)
The Seattle Kraken expanded into the league for the first time last year and had a questionable expansion draft. The Kraken were poised to draft some hefty names with the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko, Jakub Voracek, Ondrej Kase, Dougie Hamilton, Nikita Zadorov, Gabriel Landeskog (who they passed on after not being able to sign to an extension), and more. While the decisions seemed questionable at the time, understanding the way Seattle went into this draft for the longer term as opposed to the immediate future makes sense after some of the individual performances on the names they passed on. The expectations that were placed on Seattle due to the Vegas Golden Knights inaugural year were unreachable and General Manager Ron Francis didn’t fold to the pressure of drafting every big name he could. What Seattle did right was to buy themselves a few extra years. This team isn’t necessarily young, but the team they have is in a position to compete next year, especially within their division. Aside from the expansion draft Seattle drew the #2 overall pick in the entry draft selecting Massachusetts native, Matt Beniers. This pick worked out for Seattle in my opinion because drafting #1 overall pick Owen Power would not have turned out as well for this team the way drafting a forward in Beniers will. As a new team the Kraken need offense and scoring. Ticket sales flew and the Kraken have been selling out the stadium each game. Beniers got the call up towards the end of the season and put up 9 points in 10 games. Seattle then followed up last year’s pick with the fourth overall pick in the 2022 entry draft. Shane Wright, the highly touted first overall pick coming into the draft, fell in the Kraken’s lap when Montreal, Arizona, and New Jersey passed on him. Reports out of camp so far have been positive for Wright and this kid has the attitude and chip on his shoulder to make passing on him a mistake.
The Kraken have set themselves up for a bright future building around Matty Beniers and Shane Wright. Two big moves this offense saw Seattle bring in prime talent around these two top picks. Two time cup winner Andre Burakovsky was signed this offseason after winning the cup last season in Colorado. Burakovsky has been a lower line talent in Colorado and Washington where he won a cup with both teams. Being a proven 20 goal scorer in the past, Burakovsky has an opportunity here to increase his playing time and be surrounded by top six forward skills bringing out a new ceiling of production we haven’t seen yet. In addition to Burakovsky, Seattle went and pulled off a shocking trade acquiring Oliver Bjorkstrand from the Columbus Blue Jackets. This move should be one of the most under the radar brilliant trades we see. Bjorkstrand is an underrated and undervalued wing who could hit the 30 goal mark for the first time in his career if given the chance to play on the top line with Beniers and Burakovsky. With both wingers under contract for the next four years, Ron Francis has secured a potential top line for some time. What makes these moves significant as well is the ability to fluctuate two veterans the Kraken have in Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle. Seattle faced not having a true number one line last year. Jaden Schwartz, when healthy, and Jordan Eberle filled the top line roles last season they are not built to fill. Eberle and Schwartz both have the skill to succeed for this team and the signings and drafting of Beniers, Wright, Burakovsky, and Bjorkstrand allows both players to alleviate their expectations and fill the more suited roles they’re expected to play. Jordan Eberle has a chance to play on the top line over Bjorkstrand and has the skill to do it but pairing him with Jaden Schwartz on the wings being centered by Shane Wright sounds very appealing. Last year Eberle finished the season a -28 in goal differential, with Schwartz finishing -13 in 26GP. Alex Wenberg, -26, did no favors to this line either and were major contributors to the Krakens defensive struggles when on the ice. I project all three of these players to improve on their +/- this year seeing better line matchups with Beniers and Burakovsky projected to fill the first line roles. Why this matters is because you now have two twenty plus goal scorers who typically play even hockey as your secondary scorers. On top of their goal scoring abilities, you also have two thirty year old veteran leaders with cup (Schwartz in St. Louis) and playoff depth experience (Eberle back-to-back Easter Conference Finals with the Islanders) to lead this young core through their growth. These options still don’t include the skills of Jared McCann, who led the team in scoring last season and two time cup winner Yanni Gourde who was selected in the expansion draft from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Gourde finished second in the Kraken’s scoring last year behind McCann. Role players like Ryan Donato will be an even better fit for the Kraken this year with other third and fourth line names in Morgan Geekie, Brandon Tanev, and Joonas Donskoi. The question marks around this team will lie on defense and in the net. Phillip Grubauer made the shocking decision to leave Colorado last year who were Stanley Cup favorites, to join the Kraken as a free agent after the expansion draft. Colorado went on to win the cup after his departure replacing him with Darcy Keumper. Grubauer struggled mightily in his first year in Seattle and while this team may not have been good in front of him, he did himself no favors. Grubauer finished the season with double the amount of losses than wins and finished the season with a goals against average a full goal higher than his previous year in Colorado.
Expectations for 2022-23
Seattle finished 29th out of 32 teams in scoring last season with 24 of the Kraken’s 27 wins coming with them scoring three or more goals. This team could not win low scoring games due to the lack of defensive abilities and their net-minding struggles. The Kraken finished with a -71 goal differential last year and traded newly acquired captain Mark Giordano to the Maple Leafs at the deadline. This team should not make any drastic improvements on defense this year but I do expect Grubauer to rebound and play better. I don’t expect a full recovery from Grubauer to play the way he did in Washington and Colorado, but this Seattle team played in over 20 games last season decided by one goal, or were down by a goal in the final minute before conceding the empty net. These are 20+ games that the additions in the offseason through the draft and free agency can help minimize this coming season. Seeing any significant change in defensive ability will be tough but I do expect a significant change in their offensive production allowing Seattle to play more competitively during the regular season and swing many of these close losses in their favor. The Kraken should move to a top 20 team in terms of goals for on the season and definitely propel themselves over the likes of Anaheim, San Jose, the L.A Kings, and put themselves on level playing fields with Vegas.
Where does this leave Seattle for the upcoming season? The Kraken currently come in with a season total over/under of 81.5 points with +350 odds to make the playoffs. Nashville secured the final playoff berth last season ending with a total of 97 points. Expecting the Kraken to make a 30-40 point increase this year from the 60 points they finished with last season will be a tall task especially with the depth of the Central Division. Earning a wild card spot will be less likely in my opinion that the Kraken making a push to finish third in the division. Last year, the Central division occupied the top three division spots along with both wild card spots with Dallas and Nashville finishing with 98 and 97 points. The Blues finished third in that division with 109. Comparing the Pacific division the Kraken reside in, the Kings third place finish was only one and two points better than the Stars and Nashville with 99 for the wild card spots. The Kings also finished with less wins than both teams earning their extra points in their overtime losses. With the expectations of the Kings falling off this year, the third spot in the division is up for grabs between three teams. While Vancouver has the best likelihood of taking that spot, the Kraken have a chance to put up a mini Cinderella type story that fans are so desperately expecting from Vegas’ run. The Vegas franchise has been one of the most controversial ones over the past few years with their coaching and roster moves, doing it again this offseason dropping the division battle down to the Canucks and the Kraken in my opinion. With the Kraken’s line to make the playoffs coming in at +350, I would like to have small action on this going into the season. The Kraken will be a team that will be undervalued on the totals this season in my opinion. For those who plan on being a member this year I highly recommend making sure you have BetMGM or Barstool Sports Book if you don’t. These will be the primary focus of my play being able to buy totals down by a half or full goal. Last season we finished the regular season up 200 units, mainly betting totals and team totals. The Kraken in my opinion will help continue that success. If this team misses the +350 odds to make the playoffs I expect it to be due to their defensive struggles again which plays well in the favor of our totals.
News on the upcoming site and plans for this season will be coming out after the weekend. Make sure you are following on twitter and stay subscribed to this email list for updates and discounts/promotions!