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What Has To Happen For Seattle To Make The Playoffs

August 25, 2022, 2:45 PM ET [6 Comments]
Sean Maloughney
Seattle Kraken Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
As of today, here is my guess as to how the Pacific Division standings will play out:

1) Calgary Flames
2) Edmonton Oilers
3) Vancouver Canucks
4) LA Kings
5) Vegas Golden Knights
6) Seattle Kraken
7) Anaheim Ducks
8) San Jose Sharks

Really quickly to state my reasoning, I think the Flames and Oilers will battle for the top spot in the division with the Canucks and Kings both in a dog fight for the #3 spot. Vegas's goaltending situation is highly suspect but assuming they don't have the same awful injury history, I believe their forward and defensive group can insulate the team. Anaheim made some good moves but are still waiting for their young core to truly breakout. San Jose is just plain bad and needs to continue finding ways to shed cap on awful contracts.

Right now I have the Kraken finishing 6th in the division, ahead of Anaheim and San Jose. I think GM Ron Francis did an excellent job of bolstering the roster by adding to what was the Kraken's biggest weakness last season; scoring goals.

Going from last in the division and second last in the Western Conference, to 6th in the Pacific would be a solid step forward. In terms of wins, that would likely mean the team is winning 6-8 more games which fans would obviously appreciate.

Can the Kraken do more than that though? Is there a path forward for this team to actually make the post-season in just their second season? Today we will look at some of the key things that would need to happen in order for that to occur.

1) GOALTENDING

The biggest most glaring answer to this question falls on Philip Grubauer's shoulders. Prior to last season, Grubauer had a career average 0.920SV% and 2.34GAA. Last season, the 30 year old posted an 0.889SV% and a 3.14GAA. This massive drop was due to a number of reasons, most of which can be summarized at the team simply not being great in front of him and Grubauer himself not being that good. The team itself is far improved with a forward core that should be able to maintain far more possession time that last season's iteration, limiting the amount of time Seattle spend in their own end. Add to that Grubauer returning to close to his average and that should equal plenty more wins for the Kraken. For the team to have even a hope of being a playoff contender, Grubauer needs to be posting a 0.915SV% on the year.

2) HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

At this stage in their development, I don't think the Kraken can make the post season simply off of their own play... they are going to need to hope for their opponents to struggle as well. Luckily there are some teams that currently seem like they will finish ahead of Seattle that could falter themselves. The Vegas Golden Knights are going into the season with Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit as their tandem. Thompson played well last season with a 0.914SV% in 19 games but the young man is only 25 and has now played a career 20 games. Asking him to shoulder starter responsibilities is a huge ask. Brossoit is a career backup with an 0.895SV% in 24 games last season for the Knights.

The Kings are another team with question marks in net. Last season Quick looked like the Quick of old, posting a 0.910SV% and re-establishing himself as the starter but the three years prior he was just hovering at or below 0.900. Cal Petersen who was expected to be the starter last season was never able to really grab the reins and finished with a 0.895SV%. If Quick regresses back to his average of the past three seasons and Petersen remains as he was than the Kings could fall out of the playoff hunt.

Lastly the Vancouver Canucks will be an interesting team to watch. The team looked far better under Bruce Boudreau and unlike the above two teams, the goaltending should not be a concern. That being said there are still some question marks in both their forward and defensive group; the biggest of which being the future of J.T. Miller and captain Bo Horvat. Both players are UFA's at the end of this season and if the team struggles out of the gates, the head office may look to trade these players if they don't believe they will be able to extend them. Depending on how those situations play out, the Canucks could suddenly find themselves without either of their top two centres.

3) THE YOUNG GUNS

This fall we could see both Matty Beniers as well as 4th overall pick Shane Wright playing full time for the Seattle Kraken. Beniers showed well in a small sample size, going 3-6-9 in 10 games last season and Wright was originally expected to be a 1st overall selection. There will be ups and downs as there are with any rookie players but if these two men can burst onto the scene in a big way than suddenly Seattle may have one of the most well-rounded forward groups in the Pacific.

4) THE SUPPORTING FORWARDS

Last season Yanni Gourde and Jared McCann were on many nights playing top line minutes. This season there is a good chance that both could be playing on the third line. That is a statement to the depth that has been added. In addition to Beniers and Wright, GM Ron Francis brought in two more established top six forwards in Andre Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand, in addition to just straight goal scoring this group should be far more adept at matching against any other line in the NHL, without having to try and shelter half of their group as they did last season.

BREAKOUT YEAR FOR VINCE DUNN

It is a make or break year for the 25 year old defender. There are times when Dunn looks like he has all the tools of being a dominant top pairing offensive defenseman while at other teams he looks lost, disinterested, or a liability. With Mark Giordano gone, there is a big hole on the left side that if the Kraken are to have any hope of making the playoffs, Dunn needs to secure early and never look back. The biggest issue for Seattle remains the question marks in net but if Dunn can be a legitimate top pairing player than that would go a long way in helping to mitigate that and give Grubauer a chance to get back into his former form.

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Even if all of this was to go right, at best I see this team as capable of finishing fourth in the division. While that alone would be a highly impressive feat, it still may not guarantee the playoffs, depending on how the Central Division plays out. It isn't reasonable to believe that all five of these options will happen but fans of this team should be excited knowing that at least some will occur and that the Kraken will post more wins than their inaugural season.

Thanks for reading
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