Meet the Kraken: C Mason Appleton

In anticipation of the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural season, we at The Hockey Writers will be doing a deep dive on each player projected to be on the opening night roster. This installment of the series focuses on Mason Appleton, who the Kraken selected from the Winnipeg Jets.

Age: 25
Position: C
2020-21 Team: Winnipeg Jets
2020-21 Season: 56 GP, 12 G, 13 A, 25 P
Type of Acquisition: Expansion Draft

A Breakout Season

Mason Appleton comes to Seattle after a breakout offensive year with the Jets. He more than tripled his points last season as he went from eight in 2018-19 to 25 in 2019-20. Playing on a line with Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry, he was tasked with shutting down the opposition’s best players.

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During the first round of the playoffs, he really stepped up as he was only on the ice for one goal allowed in 75 minutes worth of ice time five on five. He has continued to show development year over year and could be a crucial part of the Kraken’s third line next season.

Shines on Offence at Five on Five

Appleton is a player that fans can get excited about. He has great skating ability and never gives up on the play. There is also the ability to score five on five. Last season, 21 of his 25 points came five on five. That tied him with Lowry and Copp for fifth on the team. The 21 points also tied him with players like Andrei Svechnikov of the Hurricanes, Travis Konecny of the Flyers, and Rickard Rakall of the Ducks despite playing fewer minutes five on five.

Appleton showed he could drive the offense last season. He saw a big boost in his shooting percentage from 7.55% to 12.66% and points from seven to 21. He also made his teammates around him better. For example, Lowry, who played 552 minutes last season, had a 48.26 Corsi for percentage (CF%). Without Appleton by his side, his CF% dropped to 41.18. In almost every analytical category, Lowry did better with Appleton on his wing. If he can find similar chemistry with a player like Jared McCann, Colin Blackwell, or Brandon Tanev, we could be looking at another career year and one of the deadliest third lines in the NHL.

Special Teams Work

Appleton was given a golden opportunity this season on the power play but could not really generate anything. He had five shots in 31:31 minutes with the extra man but produced zero points and only six scoring chances. Just because he couldn’t produce doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be given a chance with Seattle. He succeeds when able to create chemistry with linemates. This means that when the Kraken play him on the powerplay, they should ensure he is alongside a linemate with some chemistry. He does make the players around him better, but having that familiarity could lead to some production on the penalty play.

As for the penalty kill, Appleton showed he can play well while shorthanded but may be best as a secondary option. One part of his game he has to improve is shot-blocking and hits while on the kill. He only had six blocks and one hit last season in 52 minutes of shorthanded play. The good news going into next year is that Seattle has some great penalty-killing forwards and won’t rely on him as much as Winnipeg did. He can fill in once in a while, but being a nightly shorthanded option may not be the best option next season.

The Right Selection From Winnipeg

When looking at the projected list the Jets produced, Appleton was the best choice. No other player has more upside or has shown better progression over the past few seasons. He is also cost-controlled for next season and team-controlled as he is an RFA once his contract is up next season. Seattle could have gone with players like Dylan DeMelo, Nathan Beaulieu, or Jansen Harkins, but none could match the potential Appleton can bring to Seattle next season.

A Great Addition for Seattle

Appleton is the kind of player teams need on their team to be successful. A third-liner who can be a threat offensively while shutting down the opposition on a night-to-night basis. He plays an exciting brand of hockey and should provide some unforgettable moments next season. He was a great addition to this team and will play a major factor in Seattle’s push for the playoffs this season.

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