The month of March wasn’t as kind to the Seattle Kraken as they hoped for, but they still managed to capture eight wins and 18 points in 14 games. Unfortunately, they now find themselves in the Wild Card battle as the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, and Vegas Golden Knights have pulled away in the standings. Here is a look at five stories from March 2023.
Kraken Can Taste The Playoffs
With eight games remaining on the season, the Kraken are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. With a relatively easy schedule that includes facing the Arizona Coyotes three times and the Chicago Blackhawks once, Seattle should be able to secure a playoff before the final week of the regular season. The team is also projected to finish the season with at or above 100 points, which is a far cry from the 60 points they put up last season.
These last eight games are important because they will determine whether or not the Kraken will enter the playoff through the Pacific Division or the Wild Card. As of writing, the Kraken would be set to face off against the Minnesota Wild, who they are 1-2 against this season and 2-4 over the past two years. Regardless of the opponent, the Kraken will be underdogs in the first round and will need to come out swinging if they want to capture their first-ever playoff series victory.
Firebirds Clinch First-Ever Postseason Berth
The Coachella Valley Firebirds have been one of the best stories across the American Hockey League (AHL) all season. Not only have they clinched a playoff spot in their inaugural season, but they also sit second across the league with 92 points and are just four back of the Calgary Wranglers for first. With nine games left in the campaign that includes a six-game home stand, it is safe to say they also will eclipse the 100-point mark this season.
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The Kraken organization has done a great job this season in surrounding their young players with experienced veterans down in the AHL. Whether that is Matt Tennyson, Max McCormick or Andrew Poturalski, these older players continue to lead this team and are helping shape the future in Seattle. Head coach Dan Bylsma along with assistant coaches Stu Bickel and Jessica Campbell also deserves a ton of credit for how they have shaped this team over the season. Expect plenty of excitement in the desert over the next few weeks as the regular season concludes and the battle for the Calder Cup begins.
Daniel Sprong Hits 20 Goals
Daniel Sprong has been one of the feel-good stories around the NHL this season. After not receiving a contract in the offseason, he signed a tryout with the Kraken and earned his way onto this team. Less than six months later, he scores his 20th goal of the season and has become one of the best signings across the league from the past offseason.
Sprong is making the most of his opportunities as he has become one of the most efficient players in the league. Averaging just 11:10 of ice time per game, his 3.24 points per 60 are the highest in the league of anyone who has played ten games or more. As for his 1.56 goals per 60, that ranks fifth in the league of players who has played at least 10 games and is just behind fellow Kraken forward Jared McCann, who leads the league with 1.86 goals per 60. In the playoffs, contributions from depth players is crucial for success, meaning although he doesn’t play big minutes, Seattle will need him to step up whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Three Kraken Could Join 100 Point Club With Franchise
Three Kraken players are set to join McCann in the exclusive 100-point club for the franchise. Jordan Eberle is the closest, as he has compiled 99 points with Seattle over the past 153 games. Based on his recent strong play, he should have no issue hitting the milestone against the Kings on April 1.
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Next is Vince Dunn, who sits at 96 points. While hitting 100 may take a bit more time, there is little doubt he can hit the milestone before the season concludes. The last is Yanni Gourde, who is close, but may have to wait till next season. He is at 92 for his career and will need to produce eight points in the final eight games to hit the 100. While it is possible, this milestone most likely will happen at the start of the 2023-24 season.
Prospect Spotlight: Ryan Winterton
Selected 67th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft, Ryan Winterton has developed into an intriguing prospect for the Kraken. An over-a-point per-game player in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he recorded 12 goals and 36 points in 34 games this season for the London Knights. A player who likes to score in bunches, he has shown countless times this season he can change the momentum of a game thanks to his playmaking and shot.
A fixture in the top six for the Knights this season, Winterton will need to be at his best to help London past their first-round opponent, the Owen Sound Attack. Despite a 19-point difference between the two teams in the regular season, Owen Sound has a very deep team that includes Colby Barlow, Servác Petrovský and Cedrick Guindon. If he can put up points at a more consistent rate over the next few weeks, it would go a long way to helping the Knights reach the Memorial Cup for the first time since 2016.
Plenty To Play For Down The Stretch
While the Kraken are in a great position, they need to continue to play hard down the stretch to get ready for the playoffs. They need to enter the postseason with momentum; otherwise, it could be a quick exit from the postseason. There is still plenty to play for over the final eight games of the season as Seattle gears up for their first-ever playoff appearance.