The big debate coming into this season was whether the Seattle Kraken drafted the best team possible. Sixteen games into the 2021-22 season, the results are grim. They have one of the worst records in the NHL and sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division.
Before the season started, the Kraken writing team at The Hockey Writers put together what we thought would be the best possible lineup based on the protection lists from around the league (Click here for the roster). Now that general manager Ron Francis’ team is struggling, let’s simulate who built the better team.
Rules For the Simulation
The simulation was done on the NHL 22 video game produced by EA Sports for Playstation 4. Both leagues had the same roster as of Nov. 6, 2021 – the last available EA uploaded roster. All injuries were turned off to make it balanced, and neither Seattle team was allowed to make trades, line changes or roster moves. Here are the results:
The Real Seattle Kraken
Seventh in the Pacific, 11th in the West
Elsewhere around the league:
- Presidents’ Trophy: Tampa Bay Lightning: 56-22-4
- Stanley Cup Final: Vegas Golden Knights versus Toronto Maple Leafs
- Stanley Cup Champion: Vegas Golden Knights (4-3 series win)
Parallels Between the Simulation and Real Life
During the simulation, the Kraken were not a good team. They struggled on the power play and could not find a way to win. Unfortunately, that is paralleled with the real-life Kraken, who are suffering from similar issues.
One common dominator between the simulation and the real-life Kraken is the play of Philipp Grubauer. In the simulation, he finished with a .899 save percentage (SV%) and a 3.22 goals-against average (GAA). Through 13 games, he has a .877% SV% along with a 3.18 GAA. It doesn’t seem to matter which universe it is; goaltending is a problem for the Kraken.
The other similarity is the Kraken’s inability to put the puck in the net. Jaden Schwartz led the team with 50 points in 82 games. Through the first 16 games of 2021-22, Jordan Eberle has 13 points and is on pace for 65 over a full season. Combine that with the lack of offence from their defence, and you can see why the real-life Kraken are struggling not just in real life but also in the simulation.
The Hockey Writers’ Kraken
Fifth in the Pacific, Eighth in the West
- Defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 in first round
- Lost to Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in second round.
Elsewhere around the league:
- Presidents’ Trophy: Pittsburgh Penguins: 50-27-5
- Stanley Cup Final: Vegas Golden Knights versus Pittsburgh Penguins
- Stanley Cup Champion: Vegas Golden Knights (4-2 series win)
A Successful Season by The Hockey Writers’ Kraken
Overall, the team that THW’s crew put together had a season worth remembering. The Kraken made the playoffs on the final day by claiming a point against the San Jose Sharks and went on a good run, sweeping the Western Conference regular-season champion Edmonton Oilers in the first round. Unfortunately, their Cinderella season came up short, falling to the eventual Stanley Cup Winners in a one-goal Game 7 in round two.
A big reason for THW’s team’s success was the play of their top-six. Vladimir Tarasenko returned to form with 35 goals, and Ondřej Palát had a career year with 69 points. Other players like Max Domi, Calle Järnkrok and Josh Bailey stepped up to round out the top five scorers that did just enough to make the playoffs.
In goal, Carey Price and Chris Driedger formed a strong partnership and kept the Kraken in games. In the end, that was the most significant difference between the two teams. It doesn’t matter if it is a simulation or real-life; teams won’t succeed if their goaltending doesn’t step up to the plate.
The Hockey Writers’ Kraken are Crowned Champions
In real life, injuries and trades will alter a team’s season; but when all those factors are taken off the board, The Hockey Writers’ Kraken writing team selected the better expansion roster. This was a fun experiment that shows maybe the Kraken could have done better in building their inaugural group.
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.