With the National Hockey League’s 32nd team, the Seattle Kraken, now two games into their inaugural season, and the club’s first win officially captured, it seems like the perfect time to make some season long projections based on a very small sample size. Some folks would say it’s better to wait and see on this sort of thing, checking on the team’s progress in a month, or even at the halfway point of the season, but who has time for that? Let’s dive in!
Jared McCann has three points, scoring at a blistering rate of 1.5 points per game. It’s clear now that the Toronto Maple Leafs lost the league’s next superstar when they left McCann unprotected for the Expansion Draft. He’s slightly behind the pace set by Connor McDavid, captain of the Edmonton Oilers, who scored at a 1.87 point-per-game pace for all of last season’s 56 games, but it’s still very impressive.
Just as McDavid has his Draisaitl, so does McCann have Brandon Tanev. Both players, currently on an 82 goal pace for 2021-22, look to be future Hall of Famers. If one or the other goes on a bit of a heater, Wayne Gretzky’s longstanding regular season goals scored record (92) could easily fall. The Kraken are lucky to have such incredible talents, because it looks like the team is going to need to score.
is there a ghost in here? pic.twitter.com/ZwBttr5kAp— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) October 15, 2021
The bad news is that Seattle is averaging 3.5 goals against per game. Balancing this concern is the team’s goal scoring production, which also sits at 3.5. Simple math tells us that, from here on out, every game will be a regulation tie, with the decision coming in overtime or the shootout. Finishing the season with 41 wins (82 standings points), and adding in an additional 40 “loser” points, should mean the Kraken easily qualify for the playoffs atop the Pacific Division.
Recent Vezina finalist Philipp Grubauer, has saved 53 of the 60 shots he has faced. A save percentage of 0.867 is unlikely to get him into the NHL Awards conversation two years running, but the solution here is obvious. The Kraken need to allow more shots against. By simply doubling their shots allowed, the German netminder’s save percentage will climb to an impressive 0.942. This massive improvement should net him not only the Vezina, but could net him the Bill Masterton trophy as well, as the league’s comeback player of the year.
Obviously this is all tongue-in-cheek, and the story of the 2021-22 Seattle Kraken has yet to be written, but there is a clear takeaway from these early days in the team’s journey. A comeback that fell just short against a strong divisional opponent, in the Vegas Golden Knights, followed by a solid victory versus a middle of the pack Nashville Predators club, shows us that the Kraken aren’t going to be an easy out.
The team can skate, and score, with NHL competition, and as the players adjust to playing with each other, things should only improve. Their defense is clearly a strength, meaning the goals against should decline over time—and in a league where 3 goals often gets you the victory, that will lead to success. The franchise’s first win is on the books, and it’s clear there’s more where that came from.