Oct. 12, 2022, will mark the official start of the Seattle Kraken’s second-ever regular season. The 2021-22 campaign was one to forget, but thanks to some big offseason additions, there is hope Seattle’s 2022-23 season will be stronger. Here are some Kraken-based end-of-season predictions for the upcoming year.
Goals Leader: Oliver Bjorkstrand (31 Goals)
Oliver Bjorkstrand was brought in to score goals, and that is exactly what he should do in 2022-23, setting a new career high with 31. While he has yet to hit 30 in his career, he did finish last season with 28 in 80 games and was on a 35-goal pace in 2019-20. He will get more opportunities in Seattle compared to Columbus, which should help him finally join the 30-goal club.
The main reason Bjorkstrand should surpass 30 is the power play. Unlike in Columbus, will be relied upon to be the main shooter in Seattle. During his days with the Blue Jackets, he had more shooting competition with Patrick Laine and Jacob Voracek. Based on the projected Kraken power play, he should be receiving plenty of opportunities to fire home one-timers.
Assists Leader: André Burakovsky (39 Assists)
André Burakovsky was brought in to help facilitate the offence. He has always been a strong playmaker and showed he can dish the puck, putting up 38 assists last season. Based on the preseason, it appears he will be playing with Matty Beniers, which should help him rack up the assists as the rookie looks poised to break out in 2022-23.
Like Bjorkstrand, the power play will play a big role in his point production. Passing the puck to scorers in Jared McCann, Shane Wright, and Beniers with the man advantage should help him exceed his career high from last season. The Kraken paid a hefty price to bring him to Seattle and are hoping he can deliver on the hype.
Points Leader: André Burakovsky (65 Points)
It will be a close race, but Burakovsky should just beat out Bjorkstrand for the team’s point lead. He should have no issues setting a new career high, thanks to the opportunities he will be given throughout the season. While 65 may not seem like much for a team leader when it comes to points, it is important to note last season they were led by McCann, who had 50, so this would be a major bump up.
Another name to watch will be Beniers. While he was a star during his ten-game stint last season, it is hard to project how he will play during his first full season. If Burakovsky can get to 65 points, he shouldn’t be too far behind, as the two will be setting each other up all season long.
Defenceman Goals Leader: Vince Dunn (12 Goals)
The 2022-23 season should be a special one for Vince Dunn. The former St. Louis Blue will be given every opportunity to become the team’s number-one defenceman this season and could tie his career high with 12 goals. A player who is not afraid to shoot the puck, he should also surpass his career high of 150 shots on net in a season if he remains healthy.
One other reason Dunn is projected to have a career year is that he is a free agent after the season concludes. He will be 26 years old and looking for a big-money, long-term deal. If he can hit 12 goals or even surpass that total, a major extension could be in his future.
Defenceman Assist Leader: Justin Schultz (27 assists)
If Kraken fans have learned one thing, it is that coach Dave Hakstol loves to give players with experience opportunities over unproven players. That is why it shouldn’t be surprising if and when Justin Schultz is given more offensive opportunities than Dunn, especially when it comes to the power play. He has the experience and should be able to capitalize and put up his best season since 2017-18.
While Schultz may not be creating opportunities that directly lead to goals, he should be able to cash in based on the fact he is on the ice. This was common with Dunn last season, where he finished with 19 secondary assists and just nine primary ones. Expect a similar stat line from the former Edmonton Oiler as he benefits from the talent surrounding him.
Defenceman Point Leader: Vince Dunn (37 points)
As mentioned above, a career year from Dunn should not be unexpected. Between the increased talent around him and the fact it is his contract year, he should be able to surpass his career-high of 35 points this season. He has the tools to succeed; now, he just has to use them to his advantage.
The point-lead battle between Schultz and Dunn will be one to watch all season. Both should finish around the same total, with power play time being the biggest factor. If these two can step up and produce from the backend, the Kraken will be in good shape and should remain in the playoff chase throughout the campaign.
Goaltending Wins: Philipp Grubauer (24 Wins)
After a tough season where he won just 18 of 55 starts, Philipp Grubauer should have a bounce-back year for Seattle. While it is a lot to ask for him to once again hit 30 wins as he did with the Colorado Avalanche back in 2020-21, having him hit 24 is a reasonable expectation. Expect him to play a lot this season, especially if Martin Jones struggles early in his Kraken career.
Predicting Grubauer’s 2022-23 season is tough because of his inexperience. Last season was the first time he played more than 40 games in a season, and it was a struggle for him. Now that he has a full season under his belt, he should be able to bounce back and become the goaltender Seattle thought they were getting when they signed him during the 2021 offseason.
Season Prediction: 34 Wins, 81 points, 5th Pacific, 11th Western Conference
Overall, the Kraken are an improved team but aren’t quite there when it comes to the playoffs. They will be close but are projected to miss out by just a few points. Regardless, it should be an exciting season and one full of milestones for many of its players.
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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.