Kraken Monthly: Driedger, Trade Deadline, Melanson & More

The Seattle Kraken struggled during the month of February going 4-6-1 over their 11 games. Luckily, others in the Pacific Division have struggled recently meaning they are just four points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the division. Here is a look at five stories from February 2023.

Chris Driedger Returns From Injury

Chris Driedger returned to the ice on Feb. 27, 2023, helping the Coachella Valley Firebirds to a 4-3 overtime win over the San Jose Barracuda. It was his first game action since May 29, 2022, when he sustained a torn ACL at the 2022 World Championship. The 28-year-old stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced picking up his 63rd career win at the American Hockey League (AHL) level in the process.

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With Driedger now fully healthy, the focus shifts to what the Kraken are going to do in the net going forward. Unless a trade is made, it looks like he will stay in the AHL with Martin Jones and Philipp Grubauer splitting starts in the NHL. The hope is with more internal competition, all three will kick their game into high gear and finally deliver the consistent solid goaltending Seattle has been missing over the past two seasons.

No Big Moves Expected Before Trade Deadline

The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is scheduled for March 3, 2023, but do not expect any big moves by the Kraken. In multiple recent interviews, general manager Ron Francis has mentioned that the organization does not want to mess with the team chemistry or jeopardize the future to acquire assets that won’t be around following the summer. While adding depth pieces may not be off the table, it sounds as though Seattle will be one of the quieter teams leading up to the deadline.

As for selling, there is some speculation that the Kraken may be interested in moving defenceman Carson Soucy. A pending unrestricted free agent, the 28-year-old has been playing on the third pair this season and would be a great addition for any contending team who wants to add toughness to their lineup. With the recent addition of Jaycob Megna to the blue line, his name will be one to watch as the deadline gets closer.

Coachella Valley Finishes February On A Roll

After a mini three-game losing streak in the middle of the month, the Firebirds finished February off strong with three straight wins and now sit with 74 points in 49 games on the season. Led by Max McCormick, Brogan Rafferty, and Jesper Frödén who was recently recalled by the Kraken, Coachella Valley is not only on its way to clinching a playoff spot but could finish the season with the best record across the AHL. With multiple six-game homestands scheduled down the stretch, their ascension to the top of the standings will be something to monitor as the season progresses.

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With the addition of Driedger, the Firebirds look like an early favourite for the Calder Cup this season. They have one of the deepest rosters in the AHL and have been a force all year. As long as no significant issues occur or they lose players to call-ups, they should have no problem going on a long postseason run.

Seattle’s Scoring Struggles

The month of February was not kind to the Kraken’s offence as they managed just 31 goals in the 11 games. They were shut out twice and were held to three or fewer goals in six of their games. Overall, their 2.82 goals for per game for the month and 29.2 shots per game ranked 23rd across the league for the month of February.

Dave Hakstol Seattle Kraken
Dave Hakstol, Head Coach of the Seattle Kraken (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There is no doubt that the loss of André Burakovsky hurt the offence, but Seattle has a deep enough team that the scoring should not have taken this big of a hit. Alex Wennberg, Jaden Schwartz and Oliver Bjorkstrand all finished below 0.4 points per game while the depth scoring that has been praised all year completely dried up with Daniel Sprong, Ryan Donato and Brandon Tanev combining for just two goals. The season is long and teams go through slumps but with the playoff race in the West so tight, the Kraken need to find a way to bump this slump and start finding the back of the net once again.

Prospect Spotlight: Jacob Melanson

This season, few in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) have been as dynamic as Jacob Melanson. The Kraken’s 2021 fifth-round pick is having a career season as he is now up to 42 goals and 80 points in 48 games. In terms of rankings, he sits fourth in goals and seventh in points across the QMJHL. He also sits seventh in goals when it comes to all players across the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).

Related: Seattle Kraken Top 15 Prospects: 2023 Trade Deadline Rankings

Melanson continues to have an impact on every game he plays and is currently riding the longest point streak in the QMJHL this season at 21 games. He is making a difference in every facet of the game, whether it be at even strength, on the power play or on the penalty kill where he has six shorthanded goals on the season. A signed prospect, watch for him to put on a show for the Sherbrooke Phoenix once the postseason starts.

March A Key Month For Kraken’s Postseason Chase

The Kraken need to have a successful March if they have aspirations of making the playoffs. They have 14 games but it will be tough with only six being at home. If Seattle can pick up anywhere between 18-22 points while winning their game against the Edmonton Oilers in regulation, they should remain in the hunt to be crowned Pacific Division champions.

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