Welcome to this edition of our Seattle Kraken 3 Up, 3 Down column. In this series, we look at some of the highs and lows of Seattle’s recent play. From the play of prospects to storylines surrounding the NHL franchise, The Hockey Writers is your go-to place for all things Kraken.
This edition will be a little bit different to reflect the strong start Seattle has had to open 2023. Instead of the usual three positives and three negatives, this article will feature six positive storylines from the organization over the past 15 days. From the Kraken’s recent success all the way down to some prospect talk, almost everything seems to be going right for the team since the calendar flipped.
Plus 1: Seattle Makes NHL History
The Kraken made NHL history by sweeping their seven-game road trip to start 2023. In addition, they also extended their longest win streak in franchise history to eight games thanks to one home win and seven straight on the road. Two Kraken players also tied NHL single-game records versus the Chicago Blackhawks. During the first period, both Adam Larsson and Vince Dunn registered a plus/minus rating of plus-6, which tied the record for the highest plus/minus rating in a single period with Montreal Canadiens defenseman Pierre Bouchard, who set it back in 1977. They are the only team that is perfect since the start of the New Year and have fans in Seattle dreaming of a possible Stanley Cup, thanks to this dominant win streak.
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The Kraken’s win streak is not just impressive because it has reached five games, but who they have beaten. In the last eight games, they have defeated the New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. All four of these teams are currently in a playoff spot, with Boston being the top team in the NHL, but were no match for the sizzling Kraken. Seattle is showing they can not only compete but also beat some of the best teams in the league, which should help build the team’s confidence throughout the rest of the season.
Plus 2: Kraken’s Offence Can’t Be Stopped
Seattle’s offence has been good all season but has found another gear over the past eight games. They have scored at least three goals in each game and have the highest goals for per game in the NHL since the new year with 5.13. The next highest teams in the league are the Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils, who both have played only six games and are averaging 4.5 goals per game. This shows not just how productive the Kraken’s offence has been but how consistent it has been during the win streak.
While the stars of Seattle have stepped up during the win streak, the Kraken are getting contributions from their entire lineup. The only skater to not have registered a point over the last eight games is Carson Soucy, while six skaters are averaging at least a point per game. Whether it is Matty Beniers, Larsson, Yanni Gourde or Dunn, everyone is chipping in and has helped the Kraken build one of the strongest offences in the league.
Plus 3: Matty Beniers, An All-Star And Potential Calder Winner
Beniers is having a rookie season to remember. Not only does he lead all rookies in points with 36, but he is also headed to his first All-Star Game. He joins Jordan Eberle, who attended last year’s festivities as the only Kraken players in franchise history to be selected to play at the All-Star Game.
As for the Calder Trophy discussion, he is the clear favourite heading into the second half of the season. As of right now, his main competition is Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson, but he has struggled of late, only posting a save percentage of over .900 in three of his last ten starts. It is Beniers’ trophy to lose at this point as the 2021 second-overall pick looks to become the third American in the last 20 years to win the award.
Plus 4: Coachella Valley Stays Hot
It isn’t just the Kraken who have started the year hot, as the Coachella Valley Firebirds have started 2023 on a tear as well. They are 4-1 to start the year, are on a 10-game point streak with nine of those games being victories, and are ranked first in the American Hockey League (AHL) in points percentage with 0.765 over their first 34 games. Just like the Kraken, the Firebirds are considered contenders and are having all this success despite the fact that 21 of their first 34 games this season have been on the road.
With the AHL All-Star Game coming up, two Firebirds have been named to the roster. First is forward Andrew Poturalski, who will be making his second appearance at the game after starting the season with 37 points in 34 games. The other is 21-year-old rookie defenceman Ryker Evans who has started his AHL career off hot with 21 points in 33 games. Coachella Valley as a team is firing on all cylinders and has the league on notice, as evidenced by two players being named to the All-Star Game.
Plus 5: Shane Wright Golden World Juniors
Shane Wright started 2023 making franchise history as the only player to win gold at the World Juniors as a member of the Kraken. Captain Canada stepped up for his country when they needed him most, scoring in the gold medal game and helping Canada capture their 20th gold at the tournament. He now joins the long list of players to lead their country to gold, which includes current NHLers like Kris Letang, Mikko Rantanen and Jason Zucker.
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The hope is winning gold will be the confidence booster Wright needs to finish the 2022-23 campaign strong. He is now back in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and has three points in his first two games with the Windsor Spitfires after they acquired him at the trade deadline. While it is unlikely he will be back with the Kraken this season, a long playoff run in the OHL could be exactly what the doctor ordered heading into the 2023-24 season.
Plus 6: Kraken Prospects Making Statements In The CHL
Wright isn’t the only Kraken prospect dominating in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), as Seattle has six additional players who are averaging over a point per game. Starting in the OHL, defenceman Ty Nelson has 46 points in 39 games and is second in the league for points by a defenceman this season. His North Bay Battalion teammate Kyle Jackson has also had a great start with 52 points in 39 games which ties him with another Kraken prospect and Sudbury Wolves forward David Goyette for sixth in points across the entire league. Lastly, there is Tucker Robertson of the Peterborough Petes, who not only has 51 points in 39 games but also 21 over his past 10. With performances like these, it is safe to say Seattle may have one of the best collection of OHL prospects across the NHL.
Moving over to the Western Hockey League (WHL), Jagger Firkus continues to dominate with 54 points in 40 games. The Moose Jaw Warriors forward is currently ranked seventh in the league in points and is once again one of the most dangerous players in the league. As for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), the Kraken also have a top-10 player in Jacob Melanson, whose 55 points in 32 games sit eighth across the league. Just like Robertson, he has also been on a tear recently, with 15 goals and 24 points in his last ten games. While the WHL and QMJHL prospect pools may not be as deep as the OHL one, there are still top players in each league that are dominating this season.
Kraken Currently Flying High
It is hard to remember another organization thriving at every level like the Kraken are currently. Even their ECHL affiliate, the Kansas City Mavericks, are on a roll, having won three straight and five of their last seven. Is it a good time to be a Kraken fan, as everything is going right for this organization.
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.