The Seattle Kraken have a whopping 271 hits in its first 10 games, ranking them fourth in the NHL for hits. The team is establishing itself as one of the most physical in the league, and Brandon Tanev and Jamie Oleksiak are leading the way. Tanev is tied for sixth in the NHL with 35 hits, while Oleksiak is tied for eighth with 34 hits. Altogether, the two combine for just over 25 percent of the Kraken’s hits this season. Their hard-hitting play styles make Seattle one of the toughest teams to play against physically.
Tanev Making a Point of Finishing Every Hit and Giving Full Effort
Through the Kraken’s first 10 games, Tanev has arguably been the team’s biggest breakout player. Not only is he leading the team in hits, he has a team-leading six goals. He makes a difference whenever he is on the ice, finishing every hit and giving his full effort each shift. He is on pace to shatter career highs in multiple stat categories, including goals and points, with Seattle this season.
Tanev’s 35 hits this season are incredible, especially considering how much he has contributed offensively. He practically flies on the ice, which gives him the ability to finish big hits and wear his opponents down throughout the course of a game. His rare play style is exciting to watch, and the physicality he brings to Seattle is key to its hard-hitting identity. The Kraken are lucky to have a skilled two-in-one player who can effectively hit and score, and even lead the team in both categories. Tanev is proving his worth to Seattle early on, going above and beyond the expectations previously set for him and leading the team physically and offensively.
Oleksiak Dominating Opponents with Size and Physicality
While Tanev is the Kraken’s force to be reckoned with up front, Oleksiak has done a great job holding down the back end and making it difficult for opponents to escape Seattle’s zone without some cuts and bruises. The 6-foot-7, 255-pound defenseman towers over the majority of his opponents and is capable of landing some of the most powerful hits around the NHL.
Oleksiak has the fifth-most time on ice per game among all Kraken players, averaging 19:05 per game. Only Adam Larsson (21:17) and Mark Giordano (20:54) average more among Seattle’s defensemen. It’s quite clear that head coach Dave Hakstol is a fan of Oleksiak’s physical play style, and he is awarding him with big minutes accordingly. Oleksiak is doing his job well for the Kraken and making it difficult for opponents to play comfortably in Seattle’s zone. As the season goes on and he gains more confidence in his role, expect some highlight-reel booming hits from him this year.
Tanev and Oleksiak suit up at home against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday at 7 p.m. PT. The Sabres come into the game as the second-lowest hitting team in the NHL, with only 144 hits to match the Kraken’s 271. Seattle has a great chance to take advantage of Buffalo and land some bone-crunching hits on one of the least physical teams in the league. With the crowd at Climate Pledge Arena behind them, the Kraken can further establish its hard-hitting identity in front of its own fans.
Tanev is expected to play on the second forward line with center Yanni Gourde and right-wing Calle Jarnkrok, while Oleksiak will likely play on the top defensive pairing with Giordano. As always, this could change with Hakstol’s lineups being rather fluid as of late. No matter who they are placed on the ice with, look for Tanev and Oleksiak to have major impacts on Thursday.
Tom Pepper is a diehard Buffalo Sabres and Seattle Kraken fan writing news and rumors columns at The Hockey Writers since June 2020.