The trade deadline rapidly approaches, and the Kraken are...in a goodish spot? That three game losing streak happened to coincide with LA and Edmonton getting their shit together at just the right time to become a major threat to Seattle’s position in the playoffs. While the Kraken can still very obviously show that they belong, the Pacific division arms race is only going to heat up from here, and the Kraken should at least try to bolster what they can before the deadline’s over.
Do they really need to make a big trade?
Well, maybe not a big trade...but it couldn’t hurt to try and shore up things a little bit.
Here’s the thing; even with how bad things are, it would take some kind of horrifying statistical anomaly for the Kraken to miss the playoffs at this point. We’re at Game 60 right now and pretty much every other team in the West is missing out on big targets or actively selling off whatever they can and don’t look like they’re gonna improve unless a trade breaks in the time it takes for this to reach your eyeballs. While it’s not guaranteed, right now the Kraken are rapidly running out of room to screw it up entirely.
The Kraken have been quiet and if the goal is to just stay the course then by all means, then sure; it’s probably the best call at the moment. They’re probably gonna be fighting the exact same four teams for playoff position for the next three or four years, let them overpay for guys who will possibly find guys getting canned by the end of 2023.
On the other hand...there’s no shame in trying to improve yourself, especially if you know there’s a chance you could offload problematic contracts (not that the Squids have many, but there are a few that come to mind).
Biggest Reasonable Position of Needs:
The loss of Andre Burakovsky to injury in the past couple of weeks has highlighted just how important he’s been to the actual productivity of the Kraken offense, and while it’s good he’s found a real niche in the team, it’s also a problem that the Kraken’s depth cannot completely overcome now that he’s week to week.
It’s a credit to guys like Tanev and Bjorkstrand that they’re able to roll four lines and mostly control the pace of play, but if the the Kraken don’t get points from their high-end talent in a given game, they can find themselves struggling to gin up real game-changing offense and it’s been a killer to their long-term aspirations. Especially now that they’re seeing what their offense is like with players on the mend.
While it’s easy to say go for a center (it’s generally the most valuable position), I think the Kraken are actually pretty okay there for the time being in spite of what the current analysis might suggest.
Minor Defenseman upgrade on either side.
This is not as pressing an issue, but it would be nice.
The defense of the Kraken this year has been respectable, and even in some cases outstanding against some of the best teams in the league. Does that mean it’s perfect? No defense corps truly is, but Seattle’s does have...clear holes in it. Namely in where they allow their coverage, but as far as I’m concerned that’s mostly a systems problem that is ignorable in the long-term unless it becomes The Biggest Problem in the playoffs.
What I principally want here is a depth defender who can cause competition in the bottom pairing, so that stuff like Carson Soucy’s all consuming lust for taking minor penalties can have potential consequences, and maybe exist as a way to push guys to play their best in this home stretch period.
What’s the biggest actual need of note?
At this rate? It’s still probably Goaltending, sorry to say.
While the Kraken’s much improved season is an encouraging sign for the immediate future it still comes with a specific Achilles' heel that’s been there since day one.
Martin Jones and Philipp Grubauer are doing better than last year, we’d be in a lot bigger trouble if they’d repeated the goalie corps performance from last year. It seems however, we’ve all sort of resigned ourselves to the fact that unless this particular issue is addressed, the Kraken will continue to succeed in spite of their work, and only rarely because of them. Hell, recently Grubauer tried and couldn’t ass his team into doing it, as has been a problem with their play in front of him all year.
This is actually an interesting year for it too; a number of genuinely excellent goaltenders like John Gibson, Karel Vejmelka, and Joonas Korpisalo are all on miserable teams who could definitely use a pick and a large contract to prove they aren’t just a first overall farm this year (while also very obviously confirming it) and could use a landing spot for them. Seattle could be one of those places.
We’ll work on more specific targets this week (while they’re still on the board), but this sets a good standard for what the Kraken need to focus on coming into the deadline.