Meet the Kraken: Winger Nathan Bastian

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 winger Nathan Bastian, who the Kraken selected from the New Jersey Devils.

Age: 23
Position: Right Wing
2020-21 Team: New Jersey Devils
2020-21 Season: In his first full season as part of the Devils, Bastian put up 10 points in 41 games. The former 41st overall pick from 2016 played mostly on New Jersey’s fourth line bringing energy and physicality to every shift.
Type of Acquisition: Expansion Draft

Making The Jump To The NHL

After 188 games in the American Hockey League (AHL), Bastian finally got his shot in the NHL. Despite missing some games due to a lower-body injury, he performed well, finishing with three goals and seven assists in 41 games. He played most of his season on the fourth line with Michael McLeod and Miles Wood.

Despite missing 15 games, Bastian led the team with 136 hits. He averaged 12:37 per game, which included special teams’ work. It was a great first full season in the NHL, which should provide some momentum going into the Kraken’s inaugural season.

Work on Speical Teams

If Bastian makes the team out of training camp, it will be because of his work on the power play and penalty kill. In 5:52 of ice time on the power play last season, he couldn’t generate any shots, but his big frame could be used as a screen in front of the net. He also has great hand-eye coordination that could be useful to either tip shots or scoop up rebounds around the net front.

The penalty kill is where Bastian spent the majority of his special team’s time last season. He played 51:03 on a Devils team that had issues killing penalties. The team ranked dead last in the league with a 71% efficiency rate, and he was on the ice for 11 goals against. That being said, there is a reason for optimism as some of the NHL’s biggest stars could not score on the power play with him on the ice. For example, when he played 7:09 shorthanded last season against Alex Ovechkin, not only did he limit the Great Eight to four shots on goal, but he even generated a shot shorthanded. Other players he prevented from scoring while on the man advantage included Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and now teammate Jared McCann.

5 on 5 Play

There is a lot to like when it comes to Bastian’s five-on-five play. He had a Corsi of 49.93 and a goal-for percentage (GF%) of 51.43. Lastly, he had 10 takeaways compared to only three giveaways. He is defensively responsible but also has that offensive instinct that allows him to generate chances while five on five. He makes the most of his opportunities and should increase his point total to at least 18 points next season.

Expectations For This Season

Bastian will be fighting for one of the last roster spots once training camp starts. He should start the season as the 13th forward, but do not be surprised if he steals an opening day spot away from a player like Carsen Twarynski. There may even be an opportunity to play up the lineup and get some power-play time with Yanni Gourde, expected to be out until November with a shoulder injury.

Bastian comes into the season listed at 6-foot-4, 204 pounds. His size and willingness to throw hits may play a factor in why he makes the opening day lineup. Head coach Dave Hakstol likes his teams to be big and play that physical brand of hockey. During his time in Philadelphia, the Flyers were eighth in hits with 5,929. This player plays the way Hakstol wants his team to play and should get additional ice time from his new coach because of it.

A Great Pickup

Bastian was a surprise pick, but in the end, he probably has the best value from the Devil’s roster. They could have gone with players like P.K. Subban, Will Butcher or Andreas Johnsson, but he definitely has the most potential and upside. Lastly, he is cost-controlled and under team control until 2023, when he set to become a restricted free agent. There is a lot to like about Bastian, as he should deliver some big hits and big plays next season.

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