NHL Team Preview: Seattle Kraken
It’s time to release the Kraken! The league’s newest team is ready to take to the ice for their inaugural season, opening the year on the road against the most recent expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights.
Seattle’s expansion draft was driven around advanced analytics, not necessarily the same series of castaways we saw in the Vegas expansion. The Golden Knights were able to amass draft picks and prospects from the other teams in the league, hoping to avoid losing key players, but teams moved savvy this time around, orchestrating moves to prevent the same losses to Seattle.
Still, the Kraken put together a quality roster capable of big things in 2021-22 and over the next several years.
Since the entire team is technically an “addition,” we’ll use this section to highlight some of Kraken’s free-agent acquisitions.
To start, Philipp Grubauer is the long-term goaltender for Seattle after the Kraken signed him to a six-year, $35.4 million deal. Grubauer finished third in the Vezina Trophy voting last season after posting a 30-9-1 record, a 1.95 GAA, a .922 save percentage, and a league-best seven shutouts.
Jaden Schwartz was brought in as well after a solid nine-season run with the St. Louis Blues. He was a key piece of the Blues’ Stanley Cup run, leading the team with 12 goals and scoring two hat tricks in the playoffs. Schwartz was also named one of the Kraken’s alternate captains.
Seattle signed another quality free agent forward in Alexander Wennberg, who spent last season with the Florida Panthers after six seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wennberg will start the season as the second-line center while Yanni Gourde is out, and he may move to the wing once Gourde returns.
During the expansion draft, Mark Giordano was Seattle’s pick from the Calgary Flames, and the former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman has been named the first captain in franchise history. Giordano is 37, but he is still an effective defenseman in all zones. Playing for a new team in Seattle could also spark his game after a somewhat disappointing 2021 campaign.
Jared McCann will slot in as the first-line center early in the season while Yanni Gourde is recovering from shoulder surgery. Gourde will miss the first two months, meaning McCann will likely center Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz.
McCann finally got power-play time last season with Pittsburgh, and it paid off with seven goals and three assists. He led the Penguins in power-play goals, and if he can mirror that degree of production, he’ll likely continue to see those top minutes once Gourde returns.
Last season, Chris Driedger started to break out as the goaltender for the Florida Panthers, playing behind Sergei Bobrovsky on the depth chart but taking over the lead role down the stretch. Driedger finished the year with a 14-6-3 record, a 2.07 GAA, a .927 save percentage, and three shutouts.
While he’s likely the backup to Grubauer, he could take over for a while if Grubauer struggles out of the gates or suffers an injury.
Morgan Geekie, Seattle’s expansion pick from the Carolina Hurricanes, is a strong candidate for a breakout season. He’s put up great numbers with Carolina’s AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, but at 23 years old, last season was his first extended stay at the professional level. With a new team and a chance to be “the guy,” Geekie should be able to impress enough to earn power-play time and post career highs in all scoring categories.
Finally, watch out for Carson Soucy, who was selected after spending his career with the Minnesota Wild. Soucy is a strong, gritty defenseman who adds toughness to the Kraken lineup. He’s increased his offensive production through his first three seasons and should be a solid contributor in 2021-22 and beyond.
Seattle Kraken Season Predictions and Odds
2021-22 Over/Under Point Total: Over/Under 89.5 points (both are -110) Pacific Division Title Odds: +850 (third) Western Conference Champions Odds: +1500 (tied for sixth) Stanley Cup Odds: +4000 (tied for 15th)
* All odds provided by Action247 Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
**All views expressed are my own. My picks are my own and are not a guarantee, bet at your own risk.