We are back with another edition of the Seattle Kraken Report Cards. We’ll be looking at a trio of defensemen who, barring a trade or buyout, will be part of the organization for next season. This group is composed of a player who few would’ve expected to lead defensemen in goals, a player who some thought needed to have a bounce-back year, and one who some didn’t even have penciled in for a roster spot to start the season.
Before we start, let’s break down our grading system. It’s your basic A-F system where an A is excellent, and a C- means they have a lot to work on. Minimum qualifications for inclusion are having played 10 games and finished the season with the Kraken. With that, the No. 2 pencils are down and scantrons are bubbled in; it’s time to get out those red pens and start grading.
Carson Soucy had a career year in goals and points, defying expectations for the Kraken. The THW Kraken writing team projected him to be stapled to the bottom defensive pair as the fifth/sixth defenseman. Despite some healthy scratches earlier on, he became a dependable blueliner for a team that saw players enter and exit the lineup for a plethora of reasons.
According to average time on ice (ATOI), he was in the team’s top-four with 17:40 per game by season’s end. The 10 goals had him leading Kraken defenders, and the only defenseman in double-digits. His 21 points placed him third among defenseman who finished the season in Seattle. While he saw some secondary power-play time, registering two primary assists, he saw a career-high in penalty killing time with just over 97 minutes over his 64 games. He added a shorthanded goal, the franchise’s first, and an assist. He led the team in plus/minus as a plus-7, one of only four players that finished the season above a plus-1 rating.
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Soucy’s role next season depends on who general manager Ron Francis brings back and who makes the team out of training camp. He could find himself in the top-four, depending on how things shake up, and be back on the penalty kill. Either way, he opened some eyes. This upcoming season is his final under contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent (UFA).
Player Grade: B+
Vince Dunn came into the season and was expected to be the Kraken’s top offensive defenseman. No disrespect to former captain and 2018-19 James Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano, but his numbers had fallen off as his age rose. While Dunn didn’t have the year some may have expected, neither did the Kraken. Yet, he matched one career-high and set another.
The career-high came in assists. His 28 assists surpassed his previous high, set when he hoisted the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues after the 2018-19 season. That was also the year he set his career-high 35 points, which he matched this year. Those assists led the Kraken as a whole, while his point total led their defensemen and placed him fifth on the team overall. He played minimally while shorthanded, but was a staple on the team’s struggling power play. In 73 games, he held a 54.89 Corsi-for percentage (CF%).
Dunn will likely be back as a top defenseman for the Kraken next season. He was second to Adam Larsson with 20:41 ATOI among Kraken defenders at the season’s end. It’ll be a contract year, so he should be extra motivated out of the gate. If the Kraken bring in a top defenseman in free agency, such as Dallas Stars blueliner John Klingberg, it could take some pressure off him and afford him a slightly lesser role. His play could improve as a result.
Player Grade: B
While Soucy was projected to be a bottom-pair defenseman, Will Borgen wasn’t expected to even get a sniff at NHL ice. Jeremy Lauzon was supposed to be the seventh defenseman with Borgen cast to the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Charlotte Checkers. However, he ended up sticking around for the whole season, thus setting career-highs across the board as he’d only played 14 NHL games prior with the Buffalo Sabres.
The 25-year-old, 92nd overall selection from the 2015 Draft scored two goals and eight points with 28 penalty minutes (PIMs) and held a plus-1 rating in his 36 games. He saw time as a secondary penalty killer and didn’t shy away from getting involved physically. He averaged 15:17 per game with a 49.73 CF%.
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Being one of the few right-handed shots on the blue line gave Borgen some value, but he may be edged out of the starting lineup to start next season. The Kraken have four defensemen under contract ahead of him, plus a few who they should look to bring back, along with whoever they go after in free agency. In addition, they could see a prospect or two make the jump. He could see himself in a seventh defenseman role, if not in the AHL for the Coachella Valley Firebirds’ inaugural season. However, while he didn’t provide anything extraordinary this season, he did defy expectations. We can’t take that away from him.
Player Grade: B-
All three players should be expected to remain in the organization by the time next season comes around. While Soucy’s role may slightly increase, Dunn could benefit from a slightly reduced one; assuming the Kraken cash-in during free agency. Borgen is the wild card who likely won’t see NHL ice to start the year, but could be one of the first names called up when needed. Stick with The Hockey Writers’ Kraken team for more Kraken Report Cards, as well as coverage on the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.