With the 2021 World Championships officially underway, there are a few players on Team Canada that Seattle Kraken fans should get to know. Whether acquired through trade, free agency or the expansion draft, there are some players worth acquiring by Seattle this offseason. Here are five players to watch during the tournament.
The Arizona Coyotes goaltender would be a fantastic selection in the expansion draft. Hill is slated to be the backup in Latvia for Team Canada, but could find his way into the starting spot if Darcy Kuemper falters in the tournament. The 25-year-old is a must-select if available during the expansion draft.
Although still unproven, Hill has the potential to be a solid starter in the NHL if developed correctly. He holds a career record of 19-21-4 in the NHL with a .913% save percentage (SV%). This season, he became an anchor on the penalty kill for Arizona holding a .914% SV% while only allowing six goals on 70 shots. His overall SV% did dip this year to .913% from .918%, but that had to do with an increase in starts and minutes played. Hill is a player Kraken fans should be excited about. He may not be the starter for Canada, but he will be relied upon to help them get into the medal round this year.
Colin Miller is a two-way defenceman who needs a change of scenery from Buffalo. Currently, he is playing on the top pair with Mario Ferraro of the San Jose Sharks, and will be relied upon to shut down the opposition’s top lines and contribute on special teams. In the Game 1 loss to Latvia, Miller recorded seven shots on net while leading the team in ice time with 21:35. He is going to be a key player on Canada’s blue line, which could lead to him being a key part of the Kraken’s blue line next season.
When looking at Miller’s season, it is evident that he was struggling. He only put up 12 points in 48 games and was a minus-20. However, the big problem with assessing his season is that the Buffalo Sabres were a disaster on and off the ice. They had a COVID-19 outbreak, one of the longest losing streaks in NHL history and star players who were either injured or could not put the puck in the net. That being said, there is reason to be optimistic about his play. He did have a season Corsi rating of 47.6% in all situations, which is around the area you want players to be.
He also has expansion draft and Stanley Cup Final experience as he was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017 and was a key part of their blue line during their run to the Cup. Miller is a decent player, he just was on a bad team. The World Championship is a great opportunity to prove he can still contribute and play big minutes against strong competition. He brings leadership and experience, and will look great in a Kraken jersey next season.
Adam Henrique was named captain for this year’s World Championship and may be a candidate for the expansion draft this summer. The 31-year-old went nine for 16 in the faceoff dot during Game 1 of the World Championship and will be relied upon to provide some offense for Team Canada throughout the tournament. He could be a good fit down the middle for the Kraken next season as a veteran center who can win draws and kill penalties playing in that third-line center role.
Henrique had a decent season with 21 points in 45 games. His production has declined as he gets older, but he is still a good two-way player who can play 15-18 minutes a night. His Corsi this season was 52.9% in all situation despite being on a team that was constantly out chanced throughout the season. The Anaheim Ducks are rebuilding and Henrique may need a change of scenery. Coming to Seattle and playing that third-line role may be what is needed for him to restart his career. This tournament should show if his offense has actually dried up, or if his low season point total was a consequence of being on the lowest scoring team in the NHL.
Nick Paul had a good season with the Ottawa Senators, which earned him a spot on Team Canada. The 26-year-old notched 20 points in 56 games and finished third on the team with a plus/minus rating of plus-5. He has developed into a middle-six winger who can contribute offensively while being defensively responsible. He did not have a great first game with Team Canada, but if put in the right situation, could be a key contributing player throughout the tournament.
Paul is going to be available for the expansion draft due to the abundance of young talent Ottawa has. He played well on the penalty kill and was only on the ice for 11 goals through 121 minutes played. One part of Paul’s game that makes him an intriguing player is his versatility. He can play on the wing or down the middle. This season, he finished with a 52.1% faceoff percentage winning 219 draws, which ranked him third on the team in faceoffs won. Although a good player, there is one concern with Paul. He needs to hit the net more with his shots. This season, he finished with a 53.8% shot through percentage while missing the net completely 56 times.
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If your shot through percentage is low due to blocked shots, that’s one thing, but missing the net is an error that needs to be addressed. With more development and games, this problem should be fixed, which would make him a solid middle-six option for Seattle. This tournament is big for Paul as he can prove that his shooting ability and two-way game is good enough to warrant a selection from the Kraken this offseason.
The 22-year-old stepped up in his first NHL season with 24 points in 52 games. This was good enough to earn him a spot on Team Canada for this year’s tournament. Although he only played 11:49 in Game 1, he did have four shots on goal and was one of the most dangerous players for Team Canada. If he continues to play this way, it could be enough to interest Seattle come expansion draft time.
Hagel is a young player who can contribute on offense, but needs to learn how to play in his defensive zone if he wants to succeed in the NHL. He was given some penalty kill time, but was on the ice for seven goals in 37 minutes. He finished this year with a Corsi of 45.7%, but that could have to do with Chicago having the fourth-most chances against and third-worst chances for at even strength this season. The good news is that Hagel has potential. He had a 63.2% shots through percentage this season, which means he is not wasting his shooting opportunities, and had a 102-point season in the Western Hockey League back in 2018. This is a player that can be a difference maker if he is given time and the right development.
Plenty of Options Available
This tournament is going to be key for the Kraken as it is the last audition for those who may be selected in the expansion draft. The coach of Team Canada, Gerard Gallant, may even be the first-ever coach of the Kraken, so this is a perfect opportunity for Seattle to see how these players play in his system. Although the star players stayed at home this year, Canada has a good team with players that should still entice the Kraken.
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.