Just four games into the season, Brandon Tanev is making a big name for himself on the Seattle Kraken. Accounting for 33.3 percent of the Kraken’s nine goals so far, he has come up in big moments, giving the team their first and second leads in franchise history and scoring their first game-winning goal. He also displayed his fancy stick work with a highlight-reel, shake-and-bake goal against the Blue Jackets, which was the only Seattle goal in the game. It’s still early, but if Tanev continues to perform at this level, he will almost certainly have a career year this season.
Tanev’s Unique Goal-Scoring and Hard-Hitting Play Style
It’s not often you see a hard-hitting player like Tanev find the back of the net as frequently as he has to start the season. Ranked second on the team with 12 hits, only behind Jamie Oleksiak‘s 15 hits, Tanev is finding ways to help the Kraken both physically and offensively. The effort and drive he has to find open gaps on the ice, win puck battles and finish hits are very noticeable almost every time he’s on the ice.
Tanev is playing with confidence, and it’s paying off big time. He has gained the trust of head coach Dave Hakstol, earning increased minutes through the first three games, with a minor dip in Monday’s 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. After playing 18 shifts in the Kraken’s season-opening loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, Tanev was given 28 shifts in both of the next two games; the first franchise win in history at the Nashville Predators and a tightly-contested overtime loss to the Blue Jackets, where Tanev scored the only Kraken goal. His physical, scoring play style is evidently making a huge difference for Seattle and giving them a chance in every game.
Is Tanev’s Early-Season Success Sustainable?
Tanev’s best season in the NHL came with the Winnipeg Jets in 2018-19, tallying 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 80 games. The next season, his first with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he posted 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 68 games. In his second and final season in Pittsburgh, Tanev produced at the highest rate of his career so far, with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 32 games. After that, it was on to the Kraken. He has been on an upward trajectory the last three seasons, and with a new opportunity and incredible start in Seattle, it is certainly possible he continues the trend.
He’s shown he has the skill set to perform at this level, so it will be up to Tanev to continue playing with confidence and helping the Kraken win games. His unique play style is very valuable to the Kraken, who are trying to establish themselves as a never-quit, hard forechecking team that makes it hard for opposing teams to play well, or at least comfortably, against them. Tanev almost perfectly embodies this vision and will quickly become a face of the franchise if he continues playing his style of high-caliber power forward hockey.
Tanev will have one more chance to make an impression on his Kraken teammates, coaching staff and fans before the team’s home-opener at Climate Pledge Arena on Oct. 23, a highly-anticipated battle with their rival Vancouver Canucks. The Kraken face-off against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. PT and will look to win their second game of the season. A win would improve Seattle’s record to 2-2-1 and send them home with a .500% points percentage. Tanev has been an impact player for the Kraken through their first four games, and that likely won’t change against the Devils as his team looks to even up their record before making their big debut in Seattle.
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.