Well it’s over. There will be no Cinderella playoff run for the Seattle Kraken in Year One. The team finished with the third fewest standings points, the third fewest goals, and a winning percentage of 0.370, which isn’t stellar. The season had high and lows, Ebs (pardon the pun) and flows, but in the end it was about what you’d expect from an expansion team in its first year. Below I’m going to revisit some of my favorite moments from the inaugural season, and some of those low points as well.
There were 213 goals scored by Kraken players this season, and I will admit I didn’t go back and review them all for this article because I already remember my favorite goal of the year. It was scored in mid-October, in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but none of that mattered.
Brandon Tanev scored a beauty of a goal to give the Kraken a 1-0 lead in the second period. It was the third game of the year, the team at .500 thus far, and even if it wasn’t enough that night, it demonstrated something that remained evident through all the ups and downs of the past year. The team is capable of more. They couldn’t always find or sustain it, and the energy that Tanev himself brought to the team was clearly missed in the back half of the year, but the Kraken were an NHL team.
Copping out again here, because I wasn’t going to comb through 281 goals against to find the one I liked the least. For me there wasn’t a specific goal against that I hated (I hated all of them) but a type of goal. The “Answer-back” goal. I can’t tell you how many times it happened, although it felt like about 212, but it was the most “expansion team” occurrence that I saw this year.
The team couldn’t find and hold onto success. They’d score a goal, and while the point producers were being named on the loudspeaker, one would be surrendered at the other end of the ice. It would be a goaltending gaff one night, a defensive brainfart the next, or at times just a simple bad bounce, but it was definitely a trend.
What can the team do about it next year? Honestly I expect it to take care of itself. The defensive corps will look different, Grubauer, a former Vezina finalist, should have a bounce-back season or, if none of that happens and the trend continues through the first portion of 2022-23, the defensive system itself could be switched up if a new coach enters the picture.
If you’re thinking this one is obvious then you’re right. Number 2 overall draft pick Matty Beniers should up for the last 10% of the season and gave us all hope again. Picking up points in almost every appearance, he looked like a player who should have little trouble competing at the pro level next season.
Expectations will need to be tempered. Beniers might produce at close to a point-per-game in his official rookie season, but it’s more likely that he won’t. He’ll score, and make plays, but also make mistakes and go through down periods, and all of that is okay. He’ll lead this team to better days, and with some lotto luck this summer he won’t be the only young gun in the nightly lineup.
Where’s the mascot?! Where is our loveable, huggable, tentacle-covered moral support and number one fan? Davy Jones the dog is awesome, but he’s not the sort of slimy, eldritch beast of the deep kids can buy as a stuffed animal or wear on a t-shirt. We deserve both. You, Kraken fan, deserve both.
Maybe they’re saving something special for next season but I think Kraken fans wanted and expected to be introduced to a mascot in year one. The deadly, yet fluffy, sea creature’s name should be Wrap-Around and they better bring him or her to life early on next year.
These aren’t going to be everyone’s picks, on either side of the aisle. There were more momentous or meaningful goals scored. And I’m sure some are less hopeful for the immediate future following a season where losing happened far more than any of us liked. But the season is over, the team undefeated once again, and tomorrow is a new day.