The Seattle Kraken will finish the first month of the 2022-23 season with a .500 points percentage. In their first 10 games, they fought hard and ended up with a record of 4-4-2 with 33 goals for and 34 goals against. Here is a look at five stories and trends from October 2022.
Goaltending Once Again a Challenge
Once again, the Kraken’s goaltending has been problematic. Despite averaging 26.1 shots against per game, the Kraken have allowed 34 goals or 3.4 per game. The tandem of Phillip Grubauer and Martin Jones is struggling out of the gate and costing this team points on almost a nightly basis.
Where the duo has struggled is on the penalty kill. They have a combined .725 save percentage (SV%) while shorthanded, which ranks 31st in the league. While the tandem has been better over the past six games, having blanked the opposition four times, the goaltending isn’t inspiring much confidence overall. So far, the Kraken have been lucky as they have outscored their problems most nights, but this is a trend to watch, especially as Grubauer could be out long term with an injury and Jones will be relied on heavily in the month of November.
The Shane Wright Situation
Shane Wright’s transition to the NHL has been anything but smooth. He was scratched five times in the first 10 games, which included three straight to finish the month. Worst of all, his grandparents made the trip out West and did not get to see him play a single game. The way coach Dave Hakstol has handled his ice time and opportunities is shameful and could lead to stunted development or the player asking for a trade down the line.
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While keeping Wright around the team allows him to learn how the NHL works, this plan is only successful if he is actually playing games. This is a player who already missed a year of development thanks to COVID-19 and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) shutdown. Now, the Kraken are denying him more development opportunities by keeping him in the press box for extended periods of time. At this point, a return to the OHL looks like the best option, as there, he can continue to develop and be put in a position to succeed rather than being scratched or playing under seven minutes a night.
Kraken Offence Hot to Start the Season
Through their first 10 games, the Kraken’s offence has been firing on all cylinders. They are averaging 3.3 goals per game and have one of the top power plays in the league. A big reason for their early success is that they are getting pucks on the net. Through the 10 games, they are averaging 32.3 shots on goal and have dropped below 30 just three times so far.
What has been impressive to watch is the Kraken’s ability to spread the scoring around. Every skater who has suited up for the team this season has at least a point, and 17 of the 20 skaters have one goal. Their power play is clicking, having scored nine goals so far this season, and they are winning the analytics battle on most nights. So far, it has been smooth sailing for the offence, as it is clear this team has gelled together early in the season.
Schwartz, Eberle Stepping Up
Coming into the season, most of the focus around the Kraken’s forward group was on Wright, Matty Beniers, André Burakovsky, and Oliver Bjorkstrand. A month into the season, it has been Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz who have become the leaders of this offence. Combined, they have six goals and 11 assists while also ranking third and fourth among Kraken forwards in Corsi for percentage at five on five. Whether it is in the offensive or defensive zone, this duo has stepped up their game and are leading by example.
While Schwartz is lighting it up in the offensive zone with five goals and 10 points in his first 10 games, Eberle has been strong defensively, leading the team with eight takeaways. As mentioned, they are leading by example and showing the younger stars on this team, like Beniers and Jared McCann, how to be successful at the NHL level for a long time. If they both can continue to play at this high level, a playoff spot may not be so farfetched come the end of the season.
Beniers Calder Watch
One Kraken that will be in the awards conversation at the end of the year is Beniers. Although he played 10 games last season, he is eligible for the Calder Trophy this season, given out to the league’s best rookie. Through the first 10 games of the campaign, he is second amongst rookies in goals with four and leads all in points with eight.
There will be some heavy competition for Beniers this season as rookies are taking the league by storm. In Ottawa, Shane Pinto is off to a strong start with six goals in his first eight games, while Calen Addison of the Wild is amongst the league leaders in defencemen scoring with seven assists. Other names to watch include Kent Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Owen Power of the Buffalo Sabres, and Cole Perfetti of the Winnipeg Jets. Although he has gotten off to a strong start, Seattle’s young star needs to keep up the strong play if he wants his name engraved on the Calder Trophy at the end of the season.
Strong First Month to the Season
Overall, it was a strong start to the season for the Kraken. Yes, there are some areas that need improvement if this team wants to make the playoffs, but the organization should be happy being .500 at this point of the season. Up next is a busy November as the Kraken are set to play 12 games, with half being on the road.
Make sure to stay tuned to The Hockey Writers as we continue to bring you coverage of the Seattle Kraken all throughout the 2022-23 season.
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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.