Seattle Kraken at 30 Games: What we’ve learned so far

Dec 17, 2022, 10:06 AM | Updated: 9:04 pm
Kraken Matty Beniers...
Kraken forward Matty Beniers skates against Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj on Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

The Kraken have played 29 games so far with No. 30 coming up Sunday night when they host the Winnipeg Jets. They are off to a 16-10-3 start and have had two long win streaks, although they are currently have lost five of their last six, a skid which they’ll look to turn around Sunday.

Kraken add former first-round pick Eeli Tolvanen on waiver claim

There has been good and not so good, but overall it’s been an improvement over last season. It’s a good time to check in and see just who and what the Kraken are through 30-ish games.

Seattle sits in third place in the Pacific Division with 35 standing points, which is more than half of the 60 points they ended Year 1 with. Even better news is that they have a .603 points percentage, and that technically puts them in second place ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, who have played four more games than the Kraken. Seattle also has a plus-six goal differential, which is tied with the Edmonton Oilers for second-best in the Division.

Goal scoring has improved over a year ago. Seattle has 100 goals through the first 29 games and has improved by nearly a goal per game. Last season the Kraken averaged 2.6 goals per game while this season they are up to 3.4. One reason for more goals is an improved power play; Seattle only scored 32 power-play goals last season and operated at a paltry 14.6% success rate, which was ranked 29th out of 32 teams in the league. This year, they’ve already potted 21 power-play goals and are ranked 15th in the league with a 22.6% success rate. It should be noted, though, that the power play is currently in a 1-for-15 drought so there is still room for improvement there.

As a team, the Kraken have been a positive possession team and has averaged more shot attempts at 5-on-5 than they’ve allowed.

There are areas that need some improvement, which is led by the faceoff dot, where the Kraken have only won 44% of their faceoffs, ranking dead-last in the NHL. Faceoffs can be misleading and not all faceoffs have the same importance, but the Kraken are not good at it and are often chasing the play.

There have been several important performances over the first 29 games. Here is a look at some of those.

Inconsistent goaltending

The Kraken goalie situation has been in flux since the summer. It started with the knee injury Chris Driedger suffered in July that has him projected to be out for most of the season. The team responded by signing veteran Martin Jones for one season to be the backup.

Philipp Grubauer, looking to rebound from a down year in 2021-22, promptly got hurt early in the season, which forced Jones to the fore. Jones responded by playing great as the starter but slowly has started to get leaky. He’s played in 21 games so far but his save percentage slipped to .888. He’s won 13 games, though, and was the team’s No. 1 goalie for the best part of the early season.

Grubauer has had his moments since returning from injury and backstopped Seattle to a couple of big wins, but there have still been tough starts and his save percentage is at .882. This past week has been a microcosm of his season. He was great in losses to Washington and Carolina, keeping the Kraken in the game, but against Tampa Bay he allowed a couple of soft goals.

Whichever goalie gets most of the starts moving forward, the Kraken could use more consistency.

Best new Kraken addition

Kraken general manager Ron Francis had a productive summer, building the team up by adding more offense, and the free agency acquisition of Andre Burakovsky from the Colorado Avalanche has been the most successful.

Burakovsky has been a regular on the team’s top line and has responded with 10 goals and 27 points, leading the team in scoring. His aggressive play has put pressure on defenses and is a huge reason the team is scoring more. That aggressiveness has led to some turnovers and mistakes, but his offensive upside has made up for any defensive issues.

Who the Kraken need to step up the most

One big offseason addition was winger Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he’s played well but has had bad luck in getting the goals you’d expect from him.

Normally a great shot, Bjorkstrand has scored just three times but is still contributing by driving play and does have 11 assists. He’s playing well but the Kraken need the luck to change and for him to score more goals. There are still over 50 games left in the season and Bjorkstrand could be in for a big stretch, which would improve the Seattle attack even more.

Matty Beniers is a budding NHL star

He built up the hype with his nine-point stint while playing in the final 10 games last season. Certainly, he couldn’t follow that up playing a full season against opponents that were on to him now, right?

Well, Beniers hasn’t slowed down and looks every bit of what you’d expect out of a second-overall NHL Draft pick. He leads rookies in scoring with 11 goals, 12 assists,and 23 points, and he’s third on the Kraken scoring list.

Last week against Florida he further cemented his budding superstardom by jumping Florida’s Ryan Lomberg after Lomberg had hit Seattle’s Justin Schultz from behind, injuring the defenseman. Beniers just seems to play beyond his years, plays the right way, and is becoming a superstar in the league.

Related: Face of the Kraken? NHL lifers see phenom Matty Beniers is special

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