Welcome to the first annual Seattle Kraken Report Cards. Although the 2021-22 season did not go as hoped, there were many moments and players who stepped up during the campaign. Now, it is time to review the season that was and determine which letter grade each player deserves from the past season. To qualify for a grade, players must have played a minimum of 10 games and finished the season within the Seattle organization.
Just like the grading system in the US and Canada, we will be using letter grades to determine how well each player did. For example, if a player gets an A grade, they were excellent all season while if a player receives a C-, they have a lot to work on going into next season. This article will focus on Morgan Geekie, Karson Kuhlman and Jamie Oleksiak.
Geekie had a career year this season posting 22 points in 73 games. For the first time in his career, he was used as an everyday NHLer and also had the chance to play on the power play. Despite playing well, he was rarely given the opportunity to move up the lineup, which stunted his development and point production. He only played over 17 minutes four times while he was played under 10 minutes a total of 12 times.
Overall, Geekie’s play was good this season despite being stuck in a bottom-six center position all year. He was by far the Kraken’s best faceoff man with a 52.5 percent win percentage with a 56.9 percent win percentage in the defensive zone off of 112 faceoffs. As for his defensive play, he showed improvements as the season progressed and finished with an even-strength Corsi of 52.1 percent.
Going into next season, there are some areas he needs to improve to take the next step. The first is shooting the puck. Over 73 games, he had 97 shots. Yes, he is more of a playmaker but he needs to get more puck on the net, especially if he wants to be given more power-play time. The other is creating high-danger chances. This season, including time on the power play, he finished with 40 individual high-danger chances created. For comparison, Brandon Tanev, who only played 30 games, finished with 31 despite playing significant minutes with Geekie as his center. As mentioned, it was a good season for him overall, but there are definitely areas he needs to work on this summer.
Player Grade: C+
Although Kuhlman’s playing sample with the Kraken is small, there are some indicators that showed he can be an effective piece for the team. The former Boston Bruins winger, who was claimed off waivers this season, scored twice and added six assists in 25 games for the Kraken. He played mostly in a bottom-six role and was part of the Kraken’s first penalty-kill unit at the end of the campaign.
Kuhlman saw most of his time in Seattle on a line with Yanni Gourde and Jared McCann. In around 85 minutes of time together, the trio had a 57.1 percent expected goals for percentage and outscored the opposition four to three. This will be a line to watch next season as they showed some chemistry in a limited sample size but haven’t had the opportunity to prove it is a long-term solution for the team going forward.
Overall, Kuhlman proved to be a good waiver pickup for the Kraken. He created 17 total individual high-danger chances in his 25 games while also showing some physicality by throwing 29 hits. The Kraken do need to sign him as he is a restricted free agent this offseason, but he has shown to be a player the organization should bring back for a second look in 2022-23.
Player Grade: B-
Oleksiak had an average season for the Kraken in 2021-22. There were some areas of his game where he thrived in but also some that were problematic, especially for a defenceman making $4.6 million against the cap. While his season was not bad, Seattle does need better and more consistent play from him moving forward.
Let’s start with the positives from this past season. Oleksiak had a career high in games played with 72 and tied his points career high with 17. He also threw 182 hits and blocked 86 shots. He was also above 50 percent in Corsi, shots for percentage and scoring chances for percentage. Lastly, he showed strong chemistry with Adam Larsson and Carson Soucy, which allows the Kraken coaching staff to feel comfortable pairing him with different partners throughout the season.
There were a couple of concerning areas in his game this season that will need to be tidied up. The first is defensive zone turnovers. No one on the Kraken had more than his 45 this season. This is one of the reasons he was on the ice for a career-high 77 goals against. The other area is the penalty kill. This is an area that the team as a whole needs to work on, but the Kraken gave up 17 goals and 45 high-danger chances against during his 127 minutes of penalty-kill time. Despite these two areas, he played well for Seattle and was one of their best defencemen this season.
Player Grade: B
All three of these players are expected to play a big role next season. Whether it is Geekie and Kuhlman trying to jump-start the offence or Oleksiak being the physical force on the blue line that Seattle needs. Make sure to stay tuned for more player report cards coming out throughout the summer and let us know if you agree with our grades in the comments below.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.