Welcome to the Seattle Kraken Mailbag here at The Hockey Writers. This monthly column will allow members of the Kraken team to answer any Kraken-based questions from social media. Make sure to keep an eye out for next’s month call for questions at the beginning of October.
In this month’s edition of the mailbag, we answer questions about Shane Wright, Matty Beniers and who will be the best fit on their wings.
If Shane Wright in Fact Does Makes the Team, Who Are His Ideal Wingers?
Going into training camp, this is the million-dollar question. Is Wright ready for the NHL, or would another year in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) be beneficial? On pure talent, there is little doubt that he deserves a roster spot. This is a player that has 160 points in 121 regular season OHL games and was widely considered the best prospect the entire year. It is hard to argue that another year with the Kingston Frontenacs would be beneficial and may, in the end, hurt his confidence if sent down after the preseason.
On the flip side, the Kraken need to be careful not to rush him into the NHL. Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko of the New York Rangers are good cautionary tales of what can happen when high-end draft picks are thrown into situations they aren’t ready for. Seattle should take advantage of the nine-game window they have and see how he adjusts to the NHL before making any decisions. If he looks ready, keep him for the season, but if not, sending him down to the OHL like the Anaheim Ducks did with Mason McTavish this past season may not be the worst thing.
As for potential linemates, the best combination would be with Oliver Bjorkstrand and André Burakovsky. Wright is an offensively driven playmaker that will have the most success with a proven goal scorer on one wing and another playmaker on the other side. All three new additions to the lineup should help the Kraken become not just a deeper team but one that doesn’t have to rely on one player or line to produce offence.
Does Beniers See Significant Playing Time With Bjorkstrand?
Based on last season, it seems that the best linemates for Beniers would be Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz. That being said, the Kraken did not have Bjorkstrand available; however, based on play style, this trio would still be the best option. All three are strong two-way forwards who can contribute in the offensive zone and should be Seattle’s number one line going into the season.
The good news about how the Kraken have built their forward group is that their centers can be interchangeable. One game, it could be Wright with Eberle and Schwartz while Beniers takes a turn with Bjorkstrand and Burakovsky. They could even mix in players like Jared McCann, Yanni Gourde or Morgan Geekie into their top six to see if those trios spark anything. So to answer the question, they will play together this season, but whether or not it is a significant time at even strength will depend on what Seattle decides to do with Wright.
Where they will see significant time together, however, will be on the power play. There is little question that both will play significant parts with the man advantage and should feature on the first unit together. Based on their projected lineup, their units should look like this:
Beniers – Bjorkstrand – Burakovsky – Wright – Dunn
McCann – Schwartz – Eberle – Gourde – Schultz
Both Beniers and Bjorkstrand have shown that they are gifted offensive players. Based on overall play style, however, it would be best to keep them on separate lines at even strength for the majority of the season, with most of their joint playing time coming on the power play.
Thank you for all your questions this month. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled early in October when we will once again look to fill the mailbag with inquiries and debates. In the meantime, make sure to keep it locked here on The Hockey Writers for all your Seattle Kraken and hockey needs.
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.