Kraken, Oleksiak and Dunn

Seattle Kraken Defensemen Midterm Reports Cards

Kraken D-Corps

There is no tried and true formula. It’s a mix of offense and defense, everything in-between, and a smidge of analytics. I tend to lean towards being an easy grader. The Kraken are presently through 45 games. The midterm was officially at 41 games.

Vince Dunn A- What hoisted Dunn to the near perfect grade was when he came to the defense of teammate Matty Beniers after a sketchy hit along the boards in Columbus and beat the crap out of Cole Sillinger of the Blue Jackets last weekend. When justified, we need to see more of this. Dunn didn’t hesitate.

Toss in the fact he’s led the team in scoring for a decent hunk of the 1st half and you’ve got a key cog in all elements of the game. A top pair guy who only gets a minus on his A due to a bit of a slow start to the campaign. Otherwise, and other than missing a few games due to recent illness apparently, there is nothing to hold against him.

He has a Corsi Rating (possession, shot attempts for Kraken compared to against) of 56%, with 50% being the pivot point between “good and bad”. He has the third most shot attempts on the team, 208.

Adam Larsson B The ‘Big Cat’ plays large and angry. There was a weird stretch in November when he seemed to make some bizarre choices in coverage and with the puck, but it happens to the best of them. Otherwise, he seems to be getting angrier as the season moves along and that’s a great thing. He’s a physical presence.

Although slightly behind his 8-goal pace for the season, Larsson shows surprisingly skilled “dangle” when getting offensive chances in close. Not surprisingly at 5-on-5, his goals-for percentage is almost identical to that of his partner Dunn. Otherwise, Dunn gets power play time, Larsson doesn’t.

Jamie Oleksiak B Like his partner Borgen, he’s played in every game this season. The ‘Big Rig’ leads the Kraken in blocked shots by a wide margin with 108. That’s the 11th most in the NHL.

Although he’s not an offensive presence, when he gets the chance he can unleash a monstrous, accurate shot. If I’m a goalie I wouldn’t want this beast winding up with a slapper from 18 feet. Defensively, his reach can be a great equalizer. His hit total (52) isn’t as high as one might expect, but he will play the body in other ways, using leverage and rubbing opponents off pucks along the boards. Needless to say, at 6-7, 255 pounds, he’s hard to move.

Will Borgen B+ Understated, the classic hockey Jekyll and Hyde on and off the ice, Borgen leads the D-squad in hits with 105. The next closest is Larsson with 76. Borgen’s physicality and improved play over the last 12 months makes he and Oleksiak a formidable pair. They face the best the opposing teams can offer up.

Borgen has under-rated ice vision. It might surprise some that he’s second on the team in D-scoring with 16 points, 15 of them assists. That’s without time on the power play and with low possession/shot numbers. Not surprising as a second-pair guy, he has the fourth most ice time this season among the blueliners, just a bit behind his partner.

Brian Dumoulin B Caught off guard more than once during early games in the campaign, the veteran has improved as his Kraken tenure has gone by. New this season, it takes a bit of time to adjust regardless of the level of one’s experience. He shows the savvy that helped him help the Pittsburgh Penguins win two Stanley Cups.

Ice time has been limited compared to the others and he sat out once. He’s posted three goals and six assists on the season.

Justin Schultz B- He’s still capable of making an effective stretch pass and still showing creativity in the offensive zone, but his ability to get to spots to make plays has slowed down. Schultz has been replaced in the Kraken line-up eight times this season.

He has surprisingly good shot and basic possession analytics. Despite shortcomings that may have developed via age and wear and tear, this player posted seven goals and 27 assists from the blueline last season and he’s on pace to light the lamp eight times this go-around. Another two-time Pitt Cup winner.

Ryker Evans – B He’s only played 12 games, but in that small sampling we see that the rookie generates the best shots-for percentage of any of the Kraken defenseman. It’s no wonder the club has been chomping to see this kid in action in the big show. Yes, he will make mistakes and will gradually improve his timing and patience, standard for blueline development, but the upside is impressive and the learning curve quick.

Still looking for that first NHL goal, he has four career assists. Lighting the lamp is inevitable, especially considering the time he’ll see on the power play.

Knocking on wood for their sake, for the second consecutive season the D-corps has enjoyed remarkably good health for the most part. That fortunate consistency helps boost the performance of everyone involved.

Earlier Kraken:

— Kraken’s Missing Bodies Add Up; Maple Leafs In Tomorrow

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.
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