In the wake of a 100-point regular season, multiple Seattle Kraken players and coach Dave Hakstol have pointed out the lack of outside belief in the second-year franchise. While “Us against the world” is usually a tired trope among overachieving teams, in this case it’s true.
What follows is a near-unanimous collection of pre-season predictions which aged like milk. The intention is not to cast blame; even club CEO Tod Leiweke told me recently the club reached the postseason a year earlier than he expected. Most of us have suffered our own “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment. What’s surprising is just how deep was the consensus of low expectations when the season started.
Even the league’s own experts didn’t get it right. Among NHL.com’s 15 writers and editors, exactly zero picked Seattle to make the playoffs. Every other playoff team got at least one vote, as did the non-qualifying Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, and Nashville Predators.
Kraken Power Rankings
In power rankings assembled by ESPN hockey broadcasters, analysts and reporters, Seattle placed 28th. Not only was that lower than the Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks, the Kraken’s “best case scenario” didn’t include making the playoffs. The CBS Sports website didn’t bother mentioning the Kraken at all in their NHL preview, while one of their writers picked Calgary to win the Stanley Cup.
USA Today and The Hockey News came to the same conclusion in their pre-season power rankings, both seeding Seattle 26th. THN, by the way, had the Flames, Penguins and Blues in their top 10. Betting site Draft Kings was slightly kinder, slotting the Kraken 24th. But they pegged Seattle’s Cup chances at 10,000-1, the same odds given to the Blue Jackets.
A staff poll at The Athletic estimated Seattle’s postseason chances at 0%, but assigned coach Hakstol a top score of 25% that he would be the first to be fired.
“Heightened expectations combined with last season’s catastrophe,” they wrote, “should have Hakstol on watch.” The Score concurred, believing the Kraken would miss the playoffs and Hakstol would be first to get the axe.
538-dot-com, which does better predicting political races, says it ran 50,000 simulations ahead of the 2022-23 NHL season. The result: the Kraken had an 18% chance of earning a playoff spot, ninth worst in the league. That was still more generous than The Sporting News, which predicted a last place finish in the Pacific. Only three on the panel at Daily Faceoff agreed Seattle would finish last in the division; the other five experts said they’d be next to last.
Kudos go to a select few who at least gave the Kraken a fighting chance.
While it’s true that 10 of 20 hockey gurus at Sportsnet chose Calgary to win the Pacific, Elliotte Friedman and Iain MacIntyre did name Seattle “The team most likely to exceed expectations,” and the Seattle Times’s Geoff Baker, while slotting the team at number 20, noted, “If they eliminate dumb penalties and costly giveaways, they’ll compete with anyone.