There is a universe in which the Seattle Kraken, like their expansion cousins in Las Vegas, enter the league as a Stanley Cup contender. There is another universe (perhaps many more) in which the Seattle Kraken, like the expansion teams of the yore, toil away near the bottom of their division for a decade before finding a modicum of success in the form of a playoff berth.
Anyone who tells you, with confidence, that they know which universe we live in is lying.
Nevertheless, we continue to set expectations for a team that has yet to play a meaningful game. The real question is what those expectations should be.
There are two kinds of expectations we set. There are those we set for others—for our friends, our role models, our favorite sports teams — and there are those we set for ourselves. With the new journey that is the National Hockey League in Seattle just around the corner, it’s time we set both.
Expectations for our hockey team
Prior to 2017, expansion teams were bad. That’s an all-encompassing sports theme, not a hockey-centric one. Expansion teams entering an already well-established league (think at least 20 existing teams) never finish their first year with more wins than losses.
But the Vegas Golden Knights flipped that assumption on its head in 2017. They finished the year as one of only five teams in the NHL to reach the 50+ win plateau and rode that success all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Is that a reasonable expectation to set for Seattle, who joins the league four years later with the exact same expansion rules that Vegas had? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t change things.
The Kraken weren’t exactly left to pick at the fourth lines of 30 NHL teams. There were 13 players left available in the Expansion Draft who had at least one year remaining on their contract with at least one 30-goal season under their belt, and another 11 pending UFAs left available with a 30-burger on their resume. The first-line winger from the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning was exposed. A former 3rd-overall pick in Matt Duchene was unprotected. Even Carey Price and his Hart trophy were dangled out there to Seattle. Suffice it to say, even ignoring the success of Vegas, expectations for Seattle are already greater than they were for the expansion teams of the past.
Most analysts are in agreement that the Kraken will be a tough team to play against. They’ve got a defensive core headlined by the ageless Mark Giordano, shutdown defender Adam Larsson, and Penny Oleksiak’s brother. When teams manage to navigate through 38 feet of defenders they’ll still have to deal with Vezina trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer in net.
All of that combined with wading into what is generally thought of as a very weak Pacific division means Seattle can reasonably be expected to be in the playoff hunt right out of the gate.
Here are our initial team point projections for the 21-22 NHL season - things are still up in the air with rosters so nothing is final... We'll have the final version up on @EvolvingHockey in around a week. pic.twitter.com/YvVIqO5N5i— EvolvingWild (@EvolvingWild) September 27, 2021
Expectations for our site
Davy Jones’ Locker Room (or DJLR as we will assuredly become wont to refer to it) is a place that’s first and foremost about Seattle’s first ever NHL team: the Seattle Kraken. We’ll be talking about anything and everything as it relates to the team.
- Gameday threads & recaps? You know it.
- Player & coach quotes? Absolutely.
- Posts about the players’ dogs, which coach would make the best chef, & jersey number rankings? Obviously.
- Statistics & graphs? That one I can personally guarantee.
There will be a focus on the on-ice aspect of the Kraken, but don’t forget that sports are supposed to be fun. Yes, we’ll discuss that heartbreaking overtime loss and what it means for the team going forward. But we’re also absolutely going to discuss which ghost from Ghostbusters is the most likely candidate to be currently haunting Brandon Tanev.
At the core of all that is a reminder that this community is built by people, with a foundational idea that everyone here is treated with respect. SB Nation has its own guidelines that we all follow, and for the most part, it simply comes down to being nice to your fellow fans. But as this is a hockey blog, let’s get a little more specific about our particular corner of the internet.
Gary Bettman likes to tell you that hockey is for everyone. At the time of this writing, that’s simply not true. Hockey should be for everyone, but it’s got so much work to do to get there. On this site, we are building a place that welcomes everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, or sexual orientation. Because Davy Jones’ Locker Room is more than just analysis, news, stats, and quotes. It is, first and foremost, a community. And as a community centered around the Seattle Kraken specifically, a commitment to creating a world where hockey really is for everyone seems even more important.
The Kraken, since day one, have endeavored to do things differently. They hired Alexandra Mandrycky as the Director of Hockey Administration and gave her a say in who would become the general manager. They hired quantitative analysts in Dani Chu and Namita Nandakumar, neither of whom are white men in a sport so dominated by white men. And they brought on Chanel Keenan as their intersectionality consultant to ensure their inclusiveness reaches not only women and people of color but the disabled community as well.
As we grow as a community, this inclusiveness that’s being fostered by the team we all love is going to be front and center. You, the reader, matter. You are valued, regardless of whether you’ve been an NHL fan for 40 years or 40 minutes.
That is our expectation for this blog, and we hope you’ll join us on the maiden voyage when the puck drops in Seattle for the first time this fall.