The Seattle Kraken’s inaugural season has been very disappointing to this point. A team that hoped to contend for a playoff spot is dead last in the weak Pacific Division, eight points out of the Western Conference’s last wild-card position. It’s still early, but with a 4-11-1 record, the playoffs already seem like a long shot.
Despite the grim results, here is the first edition of the Kraken Stats Round-Up, an analytical look at the team using both basic and advanced stats. I’ll go through the team stats as well as look at skaters and goaltenders in the hopes of understanding what is troubling Seattle the most so far.
Kraken Team Stats
The Kraken’s overall stats reveal why they are struggling so much. Their scoring, which was the biggest concern entering the season, is not good but not terrible. They are tied for 20th in the league with a 2.75 goals-for-per-game average. That number ranks ahead of teams in a playoff position like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators. The bigger issue is their porous defense. A team that was touted to have one of the best defense corps in the league ranks 31st in goals-against per game with a 3.69. They are losing because they are allowing a goal more than they are scoring on average.
At the same time, their defense may not be the reason for such brutal goals-against numbers. Per Evolving Hockey, the Kraken’s expected goals-against (xGA/60) numbers are stellar; in fact, the league’s newest team ranks fourth in the NHL with a 2.11 xGA/60. Seattle is not giving up a lot of high-end scoring chances. The problem, therefore, must lie in the crease (we’ll get to that later). However, any team that badly underperforms in xGA is bound to regress to the mean, especially in an 82-game season. Better days are likely ahead.
Kraken Skater Stats
Despite their weak start, many of Seattle’s players are shining. First-line sniper Jordan Eberle leads the team with eight goals, which is on pace for over 40 by season’s end. He is tied for 13th in league scoring with stars like Anze Kopitar, Brad Marchand, and Steven Stamkos. Eberle also leads the team in points, but center Jared McCann has him beat in points per-game. McCann has 10 points in 11 games, building on an excellent 2020-21 campaign with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brandon Tanev’s goal-scoring has also been notable, with six markers through the first few weeks of the season. He has quickly become a fan favorite in Seattle.
Center Alex Wennberg and winger Jaden Schwartz lead the team in assists with nine. They have had a positive impact, sitting second and third on the team in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), respectively. Similar to baseball, WAR attempts to quantify a player’s overall value to his team. Both Wennberg and Schwartz have been strong defensively, which explains their high-end WAR numbers, while forward Ryan Donato ranks first on the Kraken in WAR despite racking up only six points so far. Donato has also had a great start on the defensive side of things.
On the other end, forward Morgan Geekie has had a rough start. Though he has played in all 16 games, he’s managed only three points. He also sits dead last on the Kraken in WAR, with -0.5. Calle Jarnkrok has also had a less-than-ideal start, failing to register a single point through eleven games.
Kraken Goalie Stats
The Kraken spent big on goaltending during the offseason, signing Chris Driedger to a three-year deal as a solid 1B option and reigning Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer to a lucrative six-year contract. Unfortunately, those investments have yet to pan out. Head coach Dave Hakstol has been riding his number one – Driedger has only started two games – which has only highlighted Grubauer’s abysmal play so far.
Among goalies with at least five starts, Grubauer is last in the league with a .877 save percentage. He is also dead last with -14.16 goals saved above expected. The Kraken’s defense corps has been strong, so their goals-against woes are undeniably the result of Grubauer’s poor play. If they want any chance of making this season interesting, he will have to improve, which starts by lessening his workload.
All hope is not lost. With such strong underlying numbers, Seattle is bound to improve in the coming weeks. However, for any real success, better goaltending will be pivotal. Hopefully, Grubauer can turn his season around and help the team to a playoff spot.