The Seattle Kraken had a rough first year in the NHL, finished last in the Pacific Division with only 27 wins in 82 games, for a total of 60 points, the third lowest in the league only above the Arizona Coyotes and the Montreal Canadiens. Jared McCann led the team with 27 goals and 50 points on the year, followed by Gourde (48 points), and Eberle (44 points). Seattle struggled just about everywhere on the ice, but have made many improvements this off-season.
One thing that is going to be crucial for the Kraken is that their goalie duo of Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger have a much better season this year. Grubauer played in 55 games in the 2021-2022 season, winning only 18 with a GAA of 3.16 and and SV% of .889. To put that in comparison, in his last season with the Avalanche, he had a GAA of 1.95 and a SV% of .922. Obviously defensive ability comes into play here as the Avalanche were a championship caliber team, while the Kraken were not, but Grubauer was certainly disappointing with the number he put up for the Kraken. Driedger also struggled, playing in 27 games, winning 9, with a GAA of 2.96 and a SV% of .899. In Florida the previous season, he had a GAA of 2.07 and a SV% of .927. If the Kraken want to get serious, it has to start with the goalies playing better.
The Draft picks
The Kraken have had 2 very high first round picks in their first year in the NHL. They started off getting Matty Beniers at second overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. In the 2022 NHL Draft, the Kraken got Shane Wright at fourth overall, who just signed a 3 year, entry level deal. Shane Wright was predicted to go first overall, but fell all the way to fourth, apparently due to “attitude issues” and scouts seeing Slafkovsky as having a higher ceiling. The Kraken sure hope that if there are any attitude problems, they can fix them. Shane Wright spent the 2021-2022 season playing in the OHL with the Kingston Frontenacs, where he had 94 points in 63 regular season games. He had 14 points in 11 playoff games. Shane Wright is a dynamic playmaker that could certainly flourish in the NHL. Matty Beniers played in 10 NHL games with the Kraken this past season, where he put up 9 points. He spent the rest of the season at the University of Michigan, where he had 43 points in 37 games. Beniers is a strong player on both ends of the ice, being able to lock down and help his team escape the defensive zone, while also creating many opportunities offensively. The Kraken have two of the best prospects in the NHL in Beniers and Wright, it will be interesting to see if they are given full NHL seasons this year.
The Seattle Kraken went out and signed Andre Burakovsky in the first day of NHL free agency. They signed the 27 year old winger to a four year deal, with an AAV of $5.5M. Burakovsky won the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in the 2021-2022 season, putting up 8 points in 12 playoff games, unfortunately missing a couple of games due to injury. Burakovsky put up good numbers in the regular season as well, putting up 61 points in 80 games. The 2013 first rounder is a great pick up for the Kraken, many teams were in on Burakovsky, who has some size to him but is an agile player with great puck control and a strong shot. If he can get himself more involved on the defensive end of the ice, Burakovsky will be a very important signing.
The Seattle Kraken recently acquired Bjorkstrand from the Columbus Blue Jackets, in a trade that saw a 2023 third round pick and a 2023 fourth round pick go to the Blue Jackets. This trade is a steal for the Kraken, as the Blue Jackets were in a tight cap situation after recently signing Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine. The 27 year old winger is strong on both ends of the ice, and has really lifted his defensive game in the past season. Offensively, he put up 57 points in 80 games with the Blue Jackets. As you can see by this player card from JFreshHockey, Bjorkstrand shows strength in almost every single analytic, lacking any true weak points in his game.
Justin Schultz was signed to a two year deal with an AAV of $3M. Schultz is a 32 year old defenseman who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2015-2017. Schultz spent last season on the Washington Capitals, where he had 4 goals and 19 assists in 74 games. This is a good veteran presence signing for the Kraken, who’s blue line certainly looked last at times last year. Schultz can hopefully come in and bring some stability on the defensive end of the ice, while helping grow the game of some of the younger guys on the team.
The Kraken re-signed Morgan Geekie to a one year deal worth $1.4M. Geekie played in 73 games last season, putting up 22 points. The Kraken signed Michal Kempny to a one year deal worth $750k, Kempny is an experienced defenseman who struggled with injuries last season with the Capitals, only playing in 15 games, putting up 2 points. He played 5 games in playoffs, putting up 1 point. Kempny has had a handful of injuries over the last couple of years, but if he can stay healthy he is a solid depth player for the Kraken.
The Kraken probably won’t be a playoff team in the 2022-2023 season, but they are certainly moving in the right path, making some pretty big moves this summer. The addition of Burakovsky, Bjorkstrand, Wright, Berniers (Full time) and Schultz will certainly take them up a step from being bottom of the division, and allows them to continue to build on this base of talents prospects.