The Seattle Kraken enter the 2021-22 NHL season as the league’s newest franchise but feature a roster with ample professional experience. Through the course of the season, we will witness several players reaching a variety of milestones, from games played, to goals and points, to even hits and blocked shots. Here are the top 10 milestones to follow in the Kraken’s inaugural season — one for each player and ranked from 10 to 1.
10 — Philipp Grubauer Eclipses 250 Games and 200 Starts
Over the past three seasons, Philipp Grubauer has risen to the top of the NHL’s best goaltenders. He comes off a 2020-21 season in which he recorded a .923 save percentage (SV%) and a career-best 1.95 goals against average (GAA) in 40 games; such performance garnered his nomination as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
He enters this season with 214 games, 187 starts, and 109 wins. He likely won’t win 41 games to reach 150, but with 36 starts, he will reach 250 total games and will easily surpass 200 career starts. That said, Seattle may not need to rely on him as heavily as the Colorado Avalanche did last season, as his backup, Chris Driedger, has turned in stellar consecutive seasons of his own.
9 — Alexander Wennberg Reaches 500 Games
Alexander Wennberg just turned 27 years old and, at 471 games played, is almost halfway to 1000 — despite consecutive shortened seasons. By playing each of the first 29 games, he will reach the 500 mark on Wednesday, Dec. 15, in Anaheim versus the Ducks. Four nights prior, he will face one of his former teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Wennberg comes off a career-high 17 goals in the shortened 2020-21 season and, in the prime of his career, will strive to produce at that rate in Seattle. With 230 career points, he will easily surpass 250 this season, and by notching 27 assists, he will reach 200 total. Additionally, he could also easily eclipse 3,000 career faceoff wins, as he currently sits at 2,686.
8 — Jaden Schwartz Records His 400th Point
Jaden Schwartz experienced a drop in productivity last season, tallying just eight goals and 13 assists in 40 games. This contrasts a 2013-2020 stretch in which he averaged just under 61 points per 82 games. The 29-year-old joins Seattle as their highest-paid player and will therefore feel the need to produce more consistently; THW projects Schwartz to earn plenty of opportunities on the Kraken’s top line.
With 385 career points, he should be able to top the 400 point milestone around the Thanksgiving mark. He will also likely play in his 600th career game this season, as he enters this year with 560. He should also eclipse 250 assists (231 currently) and 50 power play goals (44 now) in 2021-22.
7 — Jamie Oleksiak Dishes Out His 1,000th Hit
Jamie Oleksiak does more than just hit, but at 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds, he presents one of the most intimidating frames in the league. He has recorded 845 hits over 369 games, a rate of over 187 per 82 games. He should have little challenge replicating his physicality in 2021-22, likely eclipsing the 1,000 hit mark toward the end of the regular season.
The 28-year-old has emerged as a reliable defenseman who should average around 20 minutes of time on ice. As a result, he should be able to eclipse 500 career blocked shots and, if healthy, could reach 100 career points.
6 — Calle Jarnkrok Wins His 2,000th Faceoff
Two thousand faceoff wins may not seem like much when top draw-takers like Patrice Bergeron can win as many as 1,000 in a single season. However, a player like Calle Jarnkrok can demonstrate exceptional value for Seattle, as the team does not have many skilled players in that role. In his career, he has won 1677 and lost 1839 draws for a win rate of 47.7 percent. By contrast, Wennberg is at 46.1 percent, Yanni Gourde is at 47.7 percent, Marcus Johansson is at 41.3 percent, and Jared McCann is at 41.7 percent; no other Kraken player has taken over 1,000 career faceoffs.
Jarnkork may play center, wing, or a combination of both this season, but either way, he will likely take faceoffs frequently. He only took 165 faceoffs the past two seasons but succeeded from 2017-2019. He won 432 draws at a respectable rate of 50.8 percent. I expect him to enter the circle around 600-700 times this season, especially if he fits onto a second line. He is currently 323 faceoff wins away from reaching the 2,000 milestone. Additionally, he should also surpass 550 games (508 currently), 250 points (211), and 100 goals (94).
5 — Adam Larsson Blocks His 1,200th Shot
Blocking shots is among the least glamorous of NHL skills, but it often makes the difference in either preventing a goal or generating a second-chance opportunity. Adam Larsson has already racked up 1,063 blocks in 603 games, a pace of over 144 per 82 games. If he stays at this rate, he should be able to top 1,200 by the end of this season.
Larsson is part of a deep defensive core for the Kraken and is the only right-handed defenseman with over 50 career games. He will likely be instrumental in keeping the puck out of the net, both in even strength and penalty-killing situations. This season he should also eclipse 650 games and could get to 1,600 hits (1,454 currently).
4 — Marcus Johansson Stays Healthy to Reach 750 Games
I have projected 30-year-old Marcus Johansson to bounce back in 2021-22; after all, he produced at a point every other game for the Buffalo Sabres just two years ago. The third-most experienced NHL player on Seattle, he is just 16 games away from the 700 mark. If he plays every game up until number 700, he would reach the milestone at home against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, Nov. 17; four days prior, he could play in game 699 against his club from last year, the Minnesota Wild. Johansson needs to play 66 games in 2021-22 to reach 750.
Coach Dave Hakstol will likely call upon Johansson to help fill the void that the injured Yanni Gourde will leave at the start of the regular season. With a slightly increased role, he should be able to easily top 400 points (378 currently) and possibly 150 goals (135).
3 — Jordan Eberle Scores His 250th Goal
Barring a long-term injury, Jordan Eberle should eclipse the 250 goal mark fairly early into the season. He enters 2021-22 with 241 career goals, the most of any Kraken player. Seattle may rely on him more than any other player to put the puck in the back of the net, especially on the power play; 88 of his 241 goals have come on the man advantage.
Eberle has averaged 25.37 goals per 82 games throughout his 11-year career. Technically, he has not reached the 20-goal mark since 2017-18 — his first season with the New York Islanders — but he still scored at a pace of 21.90 goals per 82 games. He should be a lock for at least 20 goals with Seattle and could top off around 26-28. He should also eclipse 600 points (551 currently), 800 games (779), and possibly 350 assists (310).
2 — Brandon Tanev Steamrolls to 1,200 Hits
Brandon Tanev earned a throng of cheers when his name was announced at the 2021 Expansion Draft; co-host Dominic Moore praised to the crowd, “I promise you, this guy will be one of your fan favorites. He hits everything that moves.” The 29-year-old Toronto native has appeared in just 295 NHL games but has already amassed 984 hits — throwing the body at a rate of over 273 times per 82 games.
For all we know, Tanev could reach the 1,000 hit mark in his first game this season against the Vegas Golden Knights. If he stays healthy, he should effortlessly record 200 more hits throughout the rest of the year to reach 1,200. Come to think of it, even 1,300 is not too much of a stretch. That said, he will need to stay healthy to reach the milestone; he missed 24 of 56 games last season. He should also eclipse 350 games (295 currently), 100 points (92), and 300 blocked shots (268).
1 — Mark Giordano Surges Past 1,000 Games
The most experienced Kraken player, Mark Giordano has played in 949 NHL games, dating back to his debut during the 2005-06 season — the first following the 2004-05 lockout. Giordano missed 10 games in 2019-20 but has otherwise played nearly every game since the start of the 2015-16 season.
Assuming he appears in every game for Seattle, he could reach the 1,000 game milestone on Saturday, Jan. 29, at UBS Arena versus the New York Islanders. The Flames may also choose to honor the 38-year-old’s achievement on Tuesday, April 12 — the last time Seattle visits Calgary. Additionally, he should also surpass 550 career points (509 currently), 150 goals (143), 400 assists (366), and 1,800 blocks (1746).
Honorable Mentions for the 2021-22 Season
Several other Seattle Kraken players have individual milestones on their radar for 2021-22. Here are just a handful of them:
- Joonas Donskoi: 400 games (399 currently), 200 points (186), possibly 100 goals (78)
- Jared McCann: 400 games (353 currently), 200 points (155)
- Mason Appleton: 200 games (138 currently)
- Vince Dunn: 300 games (267 currently)
- Yanni Gourde: 350 games (310 currently), 200 points (187), possibly 100 goals (80)
- Jeremy Lauzon: 100 games (76 currently)
In addition to these individual milestones, the Seattle Kraken will celebrate a plethora of franchise milestones in their inaugural season — many of them franchise-firsts for goals, wins, shutouts, and potentially, a trip to the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. THW will continue to cover the Kraken and their milestones throughout 2021-22 and beyond.
Nick covers the Seattle Kraken for THW. At his alma mater, Santa Clara University, he served as sports editor for the campus newspaper but carved out time to cheer on his San Jose Sharks nearby. His professional experience spans reporting, copywriting, and video production for sports, gaming, and tech brands.