Alexander True deserves a chance to be an everyday NHLer with the Seattle Kraken. The former Seattle Thunderbirds star has shown fantastic development this season in the American Hockey League (AHL), and the Kraken should find a way to keep him up with the big club. Here is a breakdown of his season so far.
Thriving in the AHL
True has stepped up his game this season with the Charlotte Checkers. He is the team leader in points and assists and is second on the team in goals. Before being called up by the Kraken, he had registered a point in each of his previous four games. He has arguably been the Checkers’ most consistent player all season, which helped him grab the eye of Kraken management and the coaching staff.
Success in the AHL is nothing new for True. In 225 career games, he has 66 goals and 80 assists for 146 points. His best season came in 2018-19, where he registered 55 points in 68 games. Last season with the San Jose Barracuda, he put up 20 points in 27 games before being called up to the San Jose Sharks late in the campaign. He has shown strong development throughout his AHL career and has gotten to a point where he deserves a long look in the NHL, rather than a short stint and then being sent back down.
True’s NHL Career up to Now
True had played 19 games in the NHL with the Sharks before being selected in the Seattle Expansion Draft by the Kraken. He had five points in those 19 games, with all being assists. Last season with the Sharks, he was given 4:58 of penalty kill time, where he limited the opposition to three shots and zero goals.
One issue in San Jose was True’s ice time. He only eclipsed 13 minutes three times during the 19 games and was never given over 15 minutes despite playing well and creating offensive chances. In over half his career games, he’s averaged less than 10 minutes of ice time. In short, he needed to play more when in the lineup for the Sharks. Despite that, he continued to show positive development traits, which led to the Kraken selecting him in the Expansion Draft.
First Game With the Kraken
In True’s first game with the Kraken versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, he logged 11:07 of ice time playing a line with Ryan Donato and Joonas Donskoi. The trio played well in a fourth-line role, winning the Corsi battle and outshooting the opposition four to two. The only negative was they were on the ice for the Blue Jackets’ second goal of the evening, but overall, that line showed some chemistry and was hard to play against.
True showed he belongs in the NHL based on his individual stat line. He threw four hits, blocked a shot and had two shots on goal in his limited ice time. As for his advanced statistics, he registered one high-danger chance for and had a 55 percent Corsi rating by the end of the evening. His night was not perfect as he took a penalty and was zero for five on faceoffs, but he is still developing, so these problem areas should be fixed with additional ice time.
The coaching staff could help him get acclimated to the NHL by playing him with a linemate that can win faceoffs. Having every-day NHL players like Donskoi and Donato as his linemates are fine, but neither can win faceoffs on a semi-consistent basis. A player that could fit that role is Calle Järnkrok. He would take the faceoffs while True could play every other aspect of the center position until his faceoff ability develops to the level it needs to be. With some tough matchups ahead against some of the best faceoff teams in the league, this is a strategy the team should consider to ensure he can continue his development while also relieving some of the pressures of the position.
Kraken Need to Give Him a Long Look
At this stage of True’s development, it is beneficial for the Kraken to keep him in the lineup for as long as possible. He needs to learn the NHL game, and sending him back to the AHL may hinder his development. The Kraken are a team that needs to start focusing on the future, with their Danish forward being front and center in their plans.
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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.