The Seattle Kraken have not had a great start to their first season. They will finish 2021 at the bottom of the Pacific Division despite having shown improvements as the season has progressed. If this team wants to make a run at a playoff spot, these three players need to step up once the calendar flips.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer has not lived up to expectations this season after signing a six-year, $35.4 million contract. Through 23 starts, he has a 3.29 goals-against average (GAA) and a .882 save percentage (SV%). His advanced stats are not much better as he has allowed 20.5 goals above expected this season which leads the league. The next highest is Kevin Lankinen of the Chicago Blackhawks, at 12.8.
The good news for Grubauer is that Chris Driedger finally looks to be healthy. This means Seattle can implement the 1A-1B goaltending tandem that many penciled in before the season. The former Florida goaltender has been on and off injury reserve all season, resulting in him starting only six of the team’s 30 games so far this season. With more rest between starts and a Kraken team that looks to have fixed some of their early defensive issues, “Gru,” as he is called, should have no problem bouncing back in 2022.
Mark Giordano has struggled with the Kraken. Seattle’s captain has only managed eight points in 24 games and sits tied for 12th amongst all Kraken players. Add on the fact he missed multiple games after contracting COVID-19, and you have a year to forget for the former Norris winner.
In the case of Giordano, he hasn’t played poorly; he just hasn’t been able to produce at the level that was expected. He currently leads the team in five-on-five Corsi with a 52.64%, but those chances are not turning into goals. Luckily, Vince Dunn has stepped up when it comes to offense from the defense, but Seattle needs to find a way to get their captain going in 2022.
In his first 19 games as a Kraken, Calle Järnkrok has two goals and five points. That is a major drop-off from last season, where he finished with 28 points in 49 games for the Nashville Predators. His analytics have not been good so far, and in December, he registered a Corsi below 40% in three of his five games. It has not been a great start for him with the Kraken, whether it is having chemistry with linemates, confidence issues, or a lingering injury.
Hopefully, the break will help Järnkrok reset and find his game. One way to help him regain confidence is to put him back on the power play and keep him with the same linemates to develop chemistry. So far this season, he has played on five different line combinations and both wings. He is currently slated to play on a line with Yanni Gourde, and the two have shown strong chemistry so far this season. Overall, 2022 should be a good year for the pending unrestricted free agent as long as he can make good on the opportunities presented to him.
2022 Should Be A Big Year for a Number of Kraken
There is a lot to look forward to if you are a Seattle Kraken fan. Depending on how his NCAA season goes, Matty Beniers may get an opportunity late in the season, and there is sure to be some movement when it comes to the trade deadline. The Kraken also has 19 unrestricted or restricted free agents this coming offseason, so some players will be stepping up in the new year to ensure they get a big payday come the offseason. 2022 should be a fun year, and it all gets going on January 1 with a battle against the Vancouver Canucks.
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 https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.