Morosi on Kraken: What went wrong, who could be next coach

May 4, 2024, 7:08 PM | Updated: May 5, 2024, 2:40 pm

Seattle Kraken...

Adam Larsson of the Seattle Kraken collides with a San Jose Sharks player during a 2024 game. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

After making a run to the Stanley Cup playoffs in their second year as a franchise, the Seattle Kraken put together an uninspiring third campaign in 2023-24 and missed out on the playoffs.

Who Seattle Kraken could hire as coach to replace Dave Hakstol

The end result was head coach Dave Hakstol being fired earlier this week after the team’s failure to capitalize on the momentum gained by their first-ever playoff run.

What went wrong for the Kraken? And what’s next after a disappointing season? NHL Network broadcaster Jon Morosi discussed that with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Thursday.

“I think it was a lot of different elements there,” Morosi said. “We talked when (Kraken center Matty) Beniers was still a prospect, how important Matty was going to be to this team. (He had a) great, great first year obviously and a tough second year, and when you’ve got someone in Beniers’ case who I think is obviously very talented but doesn’t take the next step and seems to plateau, or maybe go backwards a little bit with this production, you start to ask questions. ‘What’s going on here? Why are we not improving?’”

Beniers was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 and the first-ever NHL Draft pick by the Kraken. As a rookie in 2022-23, the lefty racked up 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists) and won the Calder Cup trophy, which is given to the league’s top rookie. The 21 year old struggled to build off that performance during his second full season in the league with just 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists). His plus-minus rate also dropped from plus-14 to minus-11.

A lack of offense from Seattle Kraken

It was more than just struggles from Beniers, though. Seattle had trouble finding the back of the net all season. After ranking fourth in scoring on their way to the playoffs last season, the script flipped and the Kraken were 29th this season, averaging nearly one goal less per game.

Morosi pointed to offseason decisions like letting veteran forward Daniel Sprong leave as reasons for the offense flat-lining. Sprong posted 46 points in 66 games with Seattle in 2022-23 and had 43 in 76 for the Detroit Red Wings this season.

“He would have helped him them,” Morosi said. “That to me was a very short-sighted decision to not bring him back. (He’s) a very useful offensive player, he’s a goal scorer. He is not a 200-foot player, but he can put the puck in the net and you gotta have enough guys that can do that. There was not enough scoring depth on this team.”

Morosi also highlighted how this year’s team did little to drum up excitement for the young franchise.

“They did not play an especially entertaining brand of hockey,” Morosi said. “They were an OK team that did not necessarily bring you out of your seat very often, and in what is still a (young) NHL market, you gotta put a good product on the ice, you gotta bring people in, you gotta make sure that your season ticket renewals are good.”

What’s next?

So what’s ahead for the Kraken as they look to rebound next season? First, they need to find a new coach.

Carolina Hurricanes bench boss Rod Brind’Amour is a popular name that’s come up since Hakstol’s firing. Brind’Amour was a teammate of Seattle general manager Ron Francis in Carolina, and he’s had a very successful run in making six straight playoff appearances since taking over the Hurricanes. But Brind-Amour might not want to leave that situation, as he and Carolina are a Stanley Cup contender this season.

Morosi mentioned University of Denver head coach David Carle as another possible target. Carle, who’s just 34 years old, has spent the past six seasons at Denver and led the Pioneers to four NCAA Tournament berths, two Frozen Four appearances and the 2022 national title. He’s also the head coach of the U.S. World Junior team. Morosi also noted that a move to Washington would bring Carle closer to his home state of Alaska.

“Everybody wants Rod Brind’Amour, including the (Carolina) Hurricanes, and they may win the (Stanley) Cup this year,” Morosi said. “… So is Brind’Amour a possibility? Sure. I would expect David Carle is a possibility too. He’s one of the most highly coveted coaches in American hockey right now. He’s an NCAA champion at Denver (and) plays a really fun brand of the game.”

Regardless of who Seattle adds as its next lead, they’ll be tasked with reinvigorating a young group that’s still trying to build a consistent following.

“I think that the home run hire would be Brind’Amour for obvious reasons,” Morosi said. “The connection to Francis is there, but I think at the end of the day, you need to play with some passion and find a way to reach your young players and get them taking the next step. It’s (playing) exciting hockey. How do I get the best out of Beniers? How do I get the best out of the out of the (defensive) core to make them a little bit more mobile and an exciting, puck-supporting group? I think those are all things that I want to hear from in my new head coach.”

Listen to the full conversation with Jon Morosi about the Seattle Kraken and more at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Wyman and Bob weekdays from 2-6 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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