The Seattle Kraken need to utilize Haydn Fleury more often. Despite playing well in nine games, the former seventh-overall pick has yet to play more than three consecutive games this season. The Kraken are projected to miss the playoffs, so they must take this opportunity to help his development while also giving themselves a better chance to win. With the limited offense coming from their defense, it’s for the Kraken to mix up their lines and insert the former Carolina Hurricane into the lineup.
Kraken Defensive Scoring This Season
Only nine goals have been scored by the team’s defencemen this season, and none on the power play. Despite that, Fleury, who has two goals, has remained in the press box for most of the season.
Fleury’s absence is puzzling, given their need for scoring. He can transition the puck well, has a great shot, and has shown he can score at the NHL level. Despite that, the Kraken keep returning to the same defensive lineup, hoping they will become consistent contributors.
Fleury Developing Chemistry With Defensive Partners
In every game he’s played, Fleury has had a different defensive partner. He has played over 18 minutes with Vince Dunn, Mark Giordano, and Adam Larsson, developing some level of chemistry will all three. No pairing has a Corsi for less than 52% or a shots-for percentage of under 53%. Despite that, he continues to be a healthy scratch while the team struggles.
When it comes to a consistent partner, Larsson is the best match. The pair has a 67.71% Corsi for in 18 minutes played together, and Larsson would offer Fleury a stable, veteran defenceman he can learn from. They have the skill set to play matchup minutes while also being able to jump into the rush and produce offensively. They have shown it can work; based on the team’s play over the past 10 games, it’s time to give these two extended minutes together.
Given his stats and analytics, it doesn’t make sense that Fleury is consistently benched over players like Carson Soucy and Jérémy Lauzon. He leads both players in shots-for percentage, expected goals-for percentage, and high-danger chances for percentage at five-on-five and has only been on the ice for nine goals against this season. The only explanation is that head coach Dave Hakstol does not trust him.
The most impressive part of Fleury’s game is his ability to block shots. He has 14 blocks, ranked second on the team per 60 minutes through nine games. Larsson leads the team with 37 in 19 games. The Kraken have only allowed over 30 shots on goal once when Fleury has played, and they have kept teams under 20 twice. Seattle seems to play better defensively when he is in the lineup.
Fleury Needs to Be in the Lineup
Fleury has shown he can be a consistent performer. The Kraken play better when he is in the lineup, including three of their six wins. He is projected to be a big part of the team’s future, so scratching him instead of developing him hurts the team now and in the future. With a tough schedule in December that includes three back-to-backs, fans will hopefully see him on the ice consistently.
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.