The Seattle Kraken have hit the three-quarter mark of their inaugural season, and the NHL Trade Deadline is upon us. General manager Ron Francis has embraced a selling mentality, dealing several players, including captain Mark Giordano, in exchange for draft picks. Although his moves have left Seattle with a depleted roster, there remains time to piece together the Kraken’s three-quarter-season superlatives, the third installment of four.
Most Valuable Player: Yanni Gourde
Honorable Mentions: Jared McCann, Ryan Donato
Jaden Schwartz received the MVP distinction at the quarter mark, followed by Jared McCann at the halfway point. However, the three-quarter mark sees a new name take over the award, as forward Yanni Gourde has overtaken the Kraken scoring lead. McCann remains the goal-scoring leader, but Gourde’s team-leading 22 assists have vaulted him past McCann, with 38 points in 55 games to McCann’s 36. Gourde’s points-per-game rate leads the Kraken, and he has taken on a major role with the team too, leading all forwards with a time-on-ice (TOI) average of 18:38 per game.
Gourde’s underlying numbers support his MVP recognition as well. He sits fifth on the Kraken in Wins Above Replacement (WAR, per Evolving Hockey), and his defensive impact has been consistently strong. Gourde was expected to be a key player for Seattle in their inaugural season, and he has not disappointed.
Best Sniper: Jared McCann
Honorable Mentions: Gourde, Jordan Eberle
Although McCann loses out on the MVP spot, he retains his position as the top sniper on the team, boasting a career-high 23 goals on the season. Gourde and Jordan Eberle trail, with 16 and 15 goals, respectively. McCann’s scoring pace has not slowed since his initial jump into the sniper position, tallying eight goals in 19 games since that point. Assuming he does not run into any injury trouble, he should be able to reach the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career. His new extension looks better and better by the day.
Best Defenseman: Jamie Oleksiak
Honorable Mentions: Carson Soucy, Adam Larsson
The top defenseman at the quarter mark, Vince Dunn, has elevated his play since the halfway point but remains out of the running here. Our half-season winner, Mark Giordano, is now disqualified by virtue of his trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs. As a result, hulking blueliner Jamie Oleksiak steps into the top spot.
As per usual, Oleksiak has flown under the radar this season. He has never been the type of player to wow a crowd with offensive skills or light up the scoresheet. In fact, his 14 points on the year are only third among Kraken defensemen, not including Giordano. However, he has quietly been a tremendously effective player, leading the entire Seattle roster in WAR and maintaining a very strong defensive impact.
With the intention of being competitive right off the bat, Francis signed a number of ill-fated contracts. However, Oleksiak’s deal, at this stage, looks like it will hold up as a solid one. He has been a key player for the Kraken this season.
Most Surprising Player: Ryan Donato
Honorable Mentions: Soucy, McCann
No surprises in the Most Surprising spot, as Ryan Donato retains it as he has the entire season. A cheap free-agent signing, he has continued to impress and has played his way into Seattle’s long-term plans. He sits 10th on the Kraken in scoring, fourth in goals, and first among forwards in WAR.
Related: Which Kraken Players Should Be Moved Before the 2022 Trade Deadline?
Donato’s ice time has been fairly low all season, sitting at just over 13 minutes per game. As he continues to gain the coaching staff’s trust, increased ice time will likely lead to increased productivity, making his contributions even more impressive.
Most Disappointing Player: Philipp Grubauer
Honorable Mentions: Joonas Donskoi, Morgan Geekie
Philipp Grubauer makes his third appearance as our Most Disappointing Player, as he has failed to improve his play throughout an abysmal season. The former Vezina Trophy finalist continues to struggle, ranking near the league’s basement in just about every goaltending statistic imaginable. Given the Kraken’s surprisingly strong defensive play, it is evident that most of the team’s struggles stem from its starting goaltender’s inability to stop the puck at a high level. Grubauer will have his work cut out for him as he works to make his contract palatable in the coming seasons.
As the lead-up to the trade deadline continues, expect some more deals from Francis. Check back at season’s end to see which of Seattle’s remaining players make up our end-of-season superlatives.
All stats courtesy of NHL.com and Evolving Hockey as of March 20, 2022.