The NHL recently unveiled this year’s divisional all-star teams, again sparking a debate as to whether or not each team should have a representative. The Seattle Kraken were among the teams most noted for undeserving of a representative at the Las Vegas All-Star Game. Given the unfortunate inaugural season they have had, that is no surprise.
However, this rule is overwhelmingly likely to remain in place, so with that in mind, it’s worth considering who from the Kraken was most deserving of an All-Star selection. As it stands, Jordan Eberle will be Seattle’s representative, and Mark Giordano could be voted in by fans as the Last Man In for the Pacific Division. Although both have had good seasons, Jared McCann should be heading to Vegas from the Kraken.
McCann had an excellent 2020-21 campaign with the Pittsburgh Penguins, posting 32 points in 43 games, a career-high points-per-game average of 0.74. Analytics-interested fans were particularly impressed by his season, noting his 3.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR, per Evolving Hockey), a total second only to Connor McDavid.
Despite his breakout year, McCann was traded from Pittsburgh to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a B-level prospect and late-round pick in the offseason. It soon became apparent that Toronto acquired McCann for the sole purpose of using him as expansion draft bait, further cementing his underrated status. He was claimed by the Kraken, with the opportunity to replicate his performance in a top-line role.
Almost halfway through the 2021-22 season, McCann has not disappointed. He leads the Kraken in goals with 15 and is one point off Eberle for the team lead, with 23 in 33 games. His point totals are all the more impressive when one considers that he has played three fewer games and averages about three minutes fewer per game than Eberle. Those discrepancies are reflected in McCann’s team-leading Points per 60 and points-per-game rates.
Similar to last season, McCann also grades out well analytically. He is second on the team and first among Kraken forwards in both WAR (with 1.9) and expected Goals For per-60. Though his numbers aren’t quite as impressive relative to the rest of the league, that is to be expected on a team as bad as the Kraken. Given the circumstances, McCann has had an excellent season and deserves to be recognized as Seattle’s best player.
Eberle and Giordano
Though McCann should be the Kraken player heading to the All-Star Game, Eberle and Giordano also deserve praise. Though perhaps not the very best players on Seattle, there is a reason they were selected as the Kraken representative and Last Man In candidate, respectfully.
Eberle has been a fixture on Seattle’s top line all season and has lived up to his role. Again, he leads the team in points with 24 but is also second in goals (behind McCann) and fourth in assists (Jaden Schwartz, Joonas Donskoi, and Alex Wennberg are tied for first). His points-per-game rate of 0.67 is third on the team behind McCann and frequent linemate Schwartz. Eberle is best utilized as a secondary scoring option, but he has done an admirable job leading the charge offensively given Seattle’s lack of scoring punch.
Giordano was named the Kraken’s first captain in franchise history after eight seasons as the captain of the Calgary Flames. With 12 points in 32 games, he is second among Kraken defensemen in points behind former St. Louis Blue Vince Dunn. However, Giordano has shined at the other end of the rink in the latter stages of his career, remaining a strong defensive presence for a porous defensive team. His expected Goals Against per-60 rate is tied for second on the team behind Yanni Gourde and ranks first among Seattle defensemen. Though Giordano is unlikely to be voted into the All-Star Game given the strong Last Man In candidates put forth by the Pacific Division, he is deserving of recognition for his season.
Both Eberle and Giordano are having great years for the Kraken, but McCann has truly been an unsung hero. He has been the team’s best player up to this point and should have been recognized as such with his first All-Star Game appearance.
Jake is a reliable source for the Seattle Kraken here at The Hockey Writers. Hailing from New York City, he is an avid fan of all things hockey and is always involved with the sport, whether that means writing, watching, or playing. An enthusiastic advocate for sports analytics, Jake will often weave them into his posts to support his ideas. More of his work can be found on his Substack page, and he is a contributor with @hky_tapetalk on Instagram. For any questions or inquiries, Jake can be contacted on his Twitter, @jakezrihen.