During the 2021-22 season, the Seattle Kraken struggled when it came to their special teams. They had the 31st-ranked penalty kill at 74.9 percent and the 29th-ranked power play at 14.6 percent. This offseason, Seattle made significant improvements to their forward group, which should boost their special teams’ rankings this season. Here is a projection of what the 2022-23 opening-night special teams groups may look like.
First Power-Play Unit
André Burakovsky- Matty Beniers- Oliver Bjorkstrand
Alex Wennberg- Justin Schultz
Based on the power-play deployment through the preseason, this looks like the starting unit the Kraken will use, at least at the beginning of the season. New additions André Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand should help revive Seattle’s power play that let them down during their inaugural season. Both have a history of success at the NHL level when it comes to producing with the extra skater and will be leaned on as the season progresses. As for Matty Beniers and Alex Wennberg, they are both strong offensive threats that should have no problems creating scoring chances and hopefully finishing them off.
On the back end, it looks like Justin Schultz will anchor the first unit. The offensively minded defenceman was brought in this offseason to give the Kraken more offensive options while also helping mentor Vince Dunn on how to properly quarterback a power play. Based on the deployment from coach Dave Hakstol as the preseason wore on, it seems he wants to go experience over youth to start the season in that position.
Second Power-Play Unit
Yanni Gourde- Shane Wright- Jordan Eberle
Jared McCann- Vince Dunn
The way this power-play unit is assembled, their main goal should be to get the puck on the net and force rebounds. Jared McCann has a cannon and should be getting the puck as much as possible. Jordan Eberle also has a strong shot, allowing Vince Dunn to send passes his way as well and keep the opponent guessing. Once they get the shot on goal and create the rebound, Yanni Gourde should be in a position to smack home the rebound leading to a successful power play.
Related: Kraken 2022-23 Opening Night Forward Line Projections
The big question revolves around Shane Wright. Last season in the Ontario Hockey League, he produced 21 power-play points in 58 games. If he can make a difference early on in the season, an elevation to the first unit could happen sooner rather than later.
First Penalty-Kill Unit
Alex Wennberg- Yanni Gourde
Jamie Oleksiak- Adam Larsson
Seattle seems to be determined to give Wennberg more responsibility this season, and that includes an increased role on the penalty kill. Against the Oilers in the final preseason game, he played more than any forward with 1:31 of ice time shorthanded. His partnership with Yanni Gourde looked strong, and the duo was able to hold Edmonton’s power play to just one shot on goal during that time.
As for the defence, the partnership of Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson looks like the go-to pair on the penalty kill. The two played well together last season and will be relied upon to log big minutes once again in 2022-23. They should be first over the boards when both are available the majority of the time.
Second Penalty-Kill Unit
Brandon Tanev- Morgan Geekie
Carson Soucy- Will Borgen
Despite no history of penalty-kill time, it looks as though the Kraken are going to give Morgan Geekie a chance shorthanded. Most would think this spot is Beniers’ but based on preseason playtime, the former Carolina Hurricane looks to have been given the spot. Partnered with Brandon Tanev, this forward group should have no problem intercepting passes and creating shorthanded scoring chances.
Related: Kraken 2022-23 Opening Night Defensive Corps Projections
On the back end, Carson Soucy and Will Borgen look like the team’s second option. The two will most likely open the season as the third pair and will have plenty of time to work on their communication. Both are tough defenders who should be able to use their physical play to separate opponents from the puck and clear it down the ice.
Power Play: 14th
Penalty Kill: 25th
The Kraken did not do much to address their penalty kill, which is concerning, but should see a step up from 31st overall. If Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones can have bounce-back years, it will go a long way in helping this unit improve. As for the power play, this unit should see a massive jump up in the rankings. This unit will be crucial to keeping the Kraken in the playoff race and has the potential to be clicking at a 20-25 percent efficiency rate. Special teams will play a massive role this season and will determine if Seattle is fighting for a playoff spot or are once again at the bottom of the league.
Statistics provided by Natural Stat Trick