Kraken News & Rumors: Grubauer, McCann & Johansson

In this edition of Seattle Kraken News & Rumors, Philipp Grubauer plays his first game against his former team, Jared McCann extends his lead among Kraken goal scorers, and Marcus Johansson finds success in the injured Jaden Schwartz’ lineup spot.

Grubauer Makes First Start vs. Avalanche Since Signing With Kraken

Grubauer made his 25th start of the season, and first against his former Colorado Avalanche squad, in a 4-3 loss on Monday. The German goaltender played the last three seasons with the Avalanche, before signing a six-year, $5.9 million average annual value (AAV) contract with the Kraken in the offseason. He posted a .886 save percentage (SV%) in the game, besting his former goaltending partner Pavel Francouz’ .885 SV% performance for the Avalanche.

Philipp Grubauer Seattle Kraken
Philipp Grubauer, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Last season, Grubauer was named as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender. He posted a .922 SV% across 40 games played in his final season with the Avalanche. He has struggled to put up the same statistics in Seattle, with a .882 SV% in 26 games. The 30-year-old German goaltender is making an unprecedented amount of starts with the Kraken, which could be part of the reason his play has dropped off. His return to Colorado will hopefully remind him of what he’s capable of, and help him return to his regular elite form.

McCann Extends Kraken Goal-Scoring Lead With Snipe on Monday

McCann has become the Kraken’s go-to sniper this season, and he proved why again on Monday night vs. the Avalanche. Early in the second period, Johansson dumped the puck into the Avalanche zone, ringing it around behind the net. With the puck slipping past Colorado defender Cale Makar and Kraken forward Jordan Eberle, McCann perfectly positioned himself to pick it up along the left boards. Before anyone had any time to think about defending him, he unleashed an instant rocket over the right shoulder of Francouz to give the Kraken a 2-1 lead in the game.

Jared McCann, Seattle Kraken
Jared McCann, Seattle Kraken (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The goal marked his 14th of the season, enhancing his lead by two goals over Eberle for top Kraken goal scorer. McCann carries an incredible shooting percentage of 17.7 percent on 79 shots, highlighting the 25-year-old forward’s incredible accuracy. He continues to be a consistent scorer for Seattle, and is having himself a career year despite the Kraken’s struggles to keep up in the Western Conference.

Related: Jared McCann Is Emerging As Seattle Kraken’s Sniper

McCann is in the final year of a two-year, $2.94 million AAV contract and will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. If he continues lighting the lamp with his lethal shot, expect him to get a pay raise from the Kraken this offseason. Seattle has found its sniper and will likely lock him into the Kraken’s future core with a new deal at the end of the season.

Johansson Puts Up Two Points in First Game Filling in For Schwartz

With Schwartz out four to six weeks as he recovers from hand surgery, the Kraken need a player to fill the void left with one its top producing forwards out of the lineup. On Monday, head coach Dave Hakstol played veteran forward Johansson in Schwartz’ spot on the top line, alongside McCann and Eberle, which turned out to be a great experiment. The 31-year-old forward had a strong night, potting a goal and adding an assist on the aforementioned McCann goal.

Marcus Johansson Seattle Kraken
Marcus Johansson, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Johansson looked promising in Schwartz’ place, with the top line providing the most spark for the Kraken on Monday. He now has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 23 games, and will look to inflate his stats if he continues playing top-line minutes alongside McCann and Eberle.

“[Johansson] is a different player than [Schwartz] in terms of the things that he brings,” Hakstol told NHL.com. “He can be a real driver in terms of transporting that puck into the zone. He’s really good five-on-five as well and we’ve seen him do that well on our power play. He’s a guy that works well off of the goal line. So, he can bring some real benefits to his linemates from that area in terms of his ability to make plays off that goal line and with his vision down there.”

The Kraken are set to face-off against the Dallas Stars on the road on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. PT. The Stars, who are in the race for a Western Conference wild card spot, should provide a good test for the Kraken. Seattle looks to put an end to its three-game losing skid with an inspiring effort in Dallas.



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