Friends, let’s get Kraken!
The 2021-22 season sees the National Hockey League expand to 32 clubs with the addition of the Seattle Kraken, finally balancing the organization into four evenly-distributed divisions of eight teams. (Seattle bumps Arizona to the Central Division in the process.)
So, what can we expect from this expansion team?
Seattle didn’t exist last season. They accumulated the bulk of their roster in July’s expansion draft.
The Kraken have been cobbled together over the past few months through the expansion draft, free agency and a few minor trades.
They’ve put together a decent group of players. Their goaltenders are Philipp Grubauer (Colorado) and Chris Driedger (Florida). Their key defensemen include Mark Giordano (Calgary), Adam Larsson (Edmonton), Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas) and Vince Dunn (St. Louis). Their key forwards include Marcus Johansson (Minnesota), Joonas Donskoi (San Jose), Yanni Gourde (Tampa Bay), Jordan Eberle (NY Islanders), Jared McCann (Toronto) and Jaden Schwartz (St. Louis).
In short: the Kraken have an intriguing group of players who haven’t played together very much, if at all.
On paper, the Kraken look to be a competitive group in the Pacific Division.
Their goaltending is going to be good. Goaltending isn’t really contingent on a ton of other factors. If your team plays a defensive style, sure, it can reduce quality chances against. But if you can stop the puck, it doesn’t matter a whole lot who’s in front of you. Grubauer and Driedger are quality goaltenders, so Seattle will have a fighting chance most nights.
The rest of the line-up will be a season-long chemistry experiment, much like Vegas was in 2017. The Golden Knights found chemistry and a team identity right away, and the “Golden Misfits” had an amazing inaugural season. It would be unfair to expect the same from Seattle, but they have a lot of pieces that should cohere nicely over the course of the season.
The obvious X-factors are how well will Giordano continue to fight off the aging curve, and who, exactly, will be producing offense in key moments for the Kraken? They have enough talent across the board that they have good depth and can roll four lines, but can anybody emerge as an offensive go-to guy the way players like William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault did for Vegas?
Time will tell. If nothing else, Seattle’s a team that will be in the thick of the playoff race all season. How close they get to earning a playoff berth in their rookie season will depend on how quickly their group of random dudes gel into a polished team concept.
Folks to follow
There are a lot of good folks to follow for Kraken content on Twitter:
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times – @GeoffBakerTIMES
- Ryan Clark of The Athletic – @ryan_s_clark
- Marisa Ingemi of the Seattle Times – @Marisa_Ingemi
- Andy Eide of NHL.com – @AndyEide
- Sound of Hockey – @sound_hockey
- Kraken Chronicle – @KrakenChronicle
- Davy Jones’ Locker Room – @DavyJonesLR
The Flames face Seattle four times this season
- December 23: at Calgary
- December 30: at Seattle
- April 9: at Seattle
- April 12: at Calgary
Odds and outlook
Based on the odds from our pals at PointsBet, here’s how the Kraken stack up within the NHL:
- To win the Pacific Division: 10:1 odds (third of eight teams, only Vegas and Edmonton have better odds)
- To win the Western Conference: 15:1 odds (sixth of 16 teams)
- To win the Stanley Cup: 51:1 odds (21st of 32 teams)
- Their points over/under: 92.5
Based on the odds-makers: the Kraken make the playoffs, but don’t go particularly far.
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