The Seattle Kraken are approaching their second Thanksgiving as members of the NHL, and have a lot to be thankful for so far this year. For starters, they’re in a significantly better position both organizationally and in the standings than they were a year ago. Through 17 games last season, they were 4-12-1 with a minus-19 goal differential. Through 17 games this season, they’re 9-5-3 with a plus-8 goal differential.
Over the past year, their roster has gone through some revisions and they have been very fortunate in several of their NHL Entry Draft selections. In addition, they’ve added their own American Hockey League (AHL) and ECHL affiliates to the organization, and the world was introduced to their mascot Buoy.
I’m going to take a look at three things that the Kraken organization and fans should be thankful for this upcoming holiday season. However, before I start I’d be remiss if I didn’t list two very honorable mentions; Davy Jones, team dog, and the one and only Buoy.
With that very important piece of business said, grab a glass of apple cider, cut a slice of apple pie (the superior pie), and allow me to start on what Kraken fans should be thankful for this year.
The Coachella Valley Firebirds
It cannot be overstated how beneficial it is for the Kraken organization to have an AHL team completely dedicated to the growth of their players and prospects. No disrespect intended towards the Charlotte Checkers, but it’s extremely important that fans now get to see how the Kraken develop their players and prospects. Fortunately for the organization, the Coachella Valley Firebirds are off to a really good start to the season.
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While they currently sit sixth in the Pacific Division, that’s partially because they’ve only played 11 games so far, less than any other team in their division. So far, they’re holding strong with a 7-3-1 record. While it’s generally a more veteran-laden AHL team, the Kraken still have a handful of young players and prospects that they’re hoping will take steps forward this season.
Ryker Evans, a staple of my monthly prospect reports, is one of those players. He’s scored six points in 10 games thus far in his young professional career. Meanwhile, a familiar face from last season, Kole Lind, is off to a strong start; currently second on the team in goals (six) and tied for second in points (14) through 11 games.
I think that having a minor league team completely affiliated with the organization is going to lead to some time being shaved off their prospects’ development. It may not be much, but now they’re not fighting for ice time with the top players on an opposing team’s farm team. More time and resources can be dedicated to developing their prospects to hopefully be able to make a jump (Evans I’m looking at you) in the relatively near future.
Martin Jones is taking all of my doubts and shoving them right back into my face. Months ago, I wrote that I wanted the Kraken to pursue goaltender Charlie Lindgren in free agency, and they ended up signing Jones. I wasn’t super thrilled at first, and thought that adding a soon-to-be 33-year-old goaltender was a bad idea. Now, while it hasn’t been the prettiest at times this season, he’s been holding strong and giving this team a chance to win more nights than not.
The numbers won’t always reflect it, but he’s earned an 8-4-2 record with one shutout in 14 games. He holds a strong 2.34 goals-against average (GAA) and a .912 save percentage (SV%). To dive into some of the advanced numbers for a second here, that includes a 7.8 goals saved above expected, which is good for seventh in the NHL.
All that to say that Jones is playing well enough for the Kraken to win games, and they’ve been able to do that so far. He deserves a good amount of credit for the vast turnaround in how the Kraken have started their season from Year 1 to Year 2. Fans should be thankful for his experience and play after their top-two goaltenders fell to injury.
Kraken Goalscoring Trending Upward
One of the biggest talking points ahead of the 2022-23 NHL season for the Kraken was the lack of goal scoring during their inaugural year. It was no secret; it was evident enough that they directly addressed it during the offseason. While their two main additions, André Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand, have combined for just five goals thus far, the impact of adding such players is being seen up and down the lineup.
Last season, the team saw 35 different skaters take the ice, and 28 scored goals. That works out to 80 percent, which is good, for sure. However that was over the course of the full season, and the team was still 28th in the NHL in goals with only three 20-goal scorers. Jared McCann‘s 27 goals ranked him as the only Kraken with more than 25 goals.
Through 17 games this season, the Kraken have seen 22 different skaters take the ice, and 19 have scored goals. That’s good for slightly over 86 percent of skaters, with seven players having scored at least four goals. That may not seem like much, but the season is still young and they’re ranked 13th in the league in scoring.
Of all the offensive bright spots this season, their defensive scoring should be one that fans are very thankful for. Kraken defensemen scored 37 goals last season, and this season they’ve netted 13, with five multi-goal scorers. Having an active blue line, especially considering what’s in the pipeline, is going to be imperative to this team’s success in the future. Fans should be grateful that it looks like they’re off to a good start, but now the team needs to sustain it.
Kraken Should Be Grateful Their Strong Start Should Pay Off
Regardless of whether or not the Kraken make the playoffs, they look like they should be playing meaningful hockey in the spring, especially if they can keep up their current level of play. Having a strong start to the season is huge for chemistry building, and at the very least the team and fans should be thankful that it’s happening so early in Year 2.
Many of the key pieces of this team are already signed long-term. To have positive chemistry developing, let alone a winning record, so early in the season is going to prove largely beneficial for this core. In addition, it could even help their prospects transition easier to the NHL as they continue in their development.
It’s the start of the season to be thankful. While I’m sure everyone has those things or people they’re thankful for in their personal lives, the Firebirds, Jones, and more goal scoring are some things that the Kraken and their fans should be thankful for within their hockey lives as Thanksgiving approaches. Have a happy, healthy, and safe upcoming Thanksgiving weekend Kraken fans, THW faithful, and all those reading.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.