In anticipation of the Seattle Kraken‘s inaugural season, we at The Hockey Writers will be doing a deep dive on each player. This installment of the series focuses on forward Colin Blackwell, who the Kraken selected from the New York Rangers.
2020-21 Team: New York Rangers
2020-21 Season: Blackwell enjoyed career-highs across the board in his first full-NHL season. He averaged 14 minutes of ice time over 47 games, and his 12 goals and 10 assists quadrupled his previous goal total. His versatility, being able to play with Artemi Panarin or drop down and provide bottom-six depth, helped him become an indispensable part of the Rangers lineup.
Method of Acquisition: Blackwell was selected by the Seattle Kraken during the expansion draft.
Blackwell’s Pre-Kraken Career
Blackwell’s offensive production for the Harvard Crimson may not have made him the talk of the town, but his collegiate career displayed his ability to overcome adversity. He scored eight goals and 33 points in his first two seasons with the Crimson, but missed the entire 2013-14 season due to concussions.
Blackwell made a brief return at the end of the 2014-15 season before gaining a fifth year of eligibility to play the 2015-16 season. The 2011 seventh-round draft pick scored six goals and 19 points in his final season with Harvard before turning pro.
Similar to fellow expansion draftee Yanni Gourde, Blackwell had to pay his dues in the minors before getting the call to “The Show.” He had an unproductive first American Hockey League (AHL) season with the San Jose Barracuda, scoring just 11 points in 57 games.
Blackwell caught stride the following year with the Rochester Americans to the tune of 17 goals and 45 points before joining the Nashville Predators organization and the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. Blackwell made his NHL debut during the 2018-19 season. Although he didn’t score in six games, he started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
He played just 26 AHL games the following season and scored 23 points, and also spent 27 games in the NHL with the Predators, scoring 10. He was signed by the New York Rangers prior to the 2020-21 season and won a starting spot off the taxi squad. He hasn’t looked back.
Following this past season with the Rangers, Blackwell performed well in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hockey World Championship. He scored four goals, including a game winner, with a 28.57 shooting percentage in 10 games. His leadership was on display for the world to see, as he was named an alternate captain on the bronze medal-winning Team USA.
Blackwell’s Kraken Expectations
Assuming he stays healthy, this looks to be Blackwell’s first full 82-game season, as last season was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While he won’t be playing with the offensive juggernaut that is Panarin, he could find himself putting up similar numbers, if not exceeding last season’s production.
While he likely won’t see top-line minutes, he could play anywhere throughout the bottom-nine. He’d come in handy if the Kraken get bitten by the injury bug. He spent some time on the Rangers power play, where he scored three goals in just under 52 total minutes, and played just under 33 total minutes on the penalty kill.
If Blackwell could build on his breakout season and score in the 15 goal, 35 point ballpark, that would provide strong depth scoring for the Kraken. On the personal side, it would be a great step going into unrestricted free agency (UFA). It could earn him another contract with the Kraken following the season, with a bit of a pay raise.
Was Selecting Blackwell a Hit or a Miss?
Kraken general manager Ron Francis’ eyes must have lit up when he saw that the Rangers didn’t protect Blackwell. He’s overcome so much adversity to make it to the NHL, which should endear him to the Kraken faithful. Being that Gourde is going to miss the start of the season, Blackwell gives head coach Dave Hakstol a ton of different options for how to construct his lineup.
While the Rangers left a few younger options available with decent potential, Blackwell brings all-around depth to a team that is thinner up front than on the backend. With a $725,000 cap hit and just a year left on his contract, he’s a low-risk, high reward player for the Kraken. Francis definitely hit this selection.
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.