Seattle Kraken, Francis and Hakstol

Kraken Need To Start Looking Ahead; Lots Of Work To Do

For a Seattle Kraken season that will go down as disappointing, it wasn’t exactly unexpected. It’s one of the preseason predictions we had correct —  we had the Kraken falling short of the postseason in 5th place in the Pacific (they’re presently in 6th) and the Canucks making the playoffs as a wild card in 4th. (We didn’t project Vancouver winning the division).

Falling short was expected because the Seattle roster actually got less talented in the off-season. Players had career years last season, namely two who moved on in the summer, while the full strength shooting percentage the Kraken posted, the NHL’s best, simply wasn’t going to be duplicated. Seattle had the most 5-on-5 goals in the league in 2022-’23 — 209 of them.

This year they have the 27th most.

The fourth line, give or take substitutions here and there, accounted for 44 goals last season. This season: 19.

All in all the playoffs just weren’t gonna happen, particularly when your “best players” aren’t playing their best.

Kraken Goals

Goal one is to make the playoffs next season. Simple. Owners don’t like empty seats and another non-playoff season next year will bring about just that. Even a team with a hypothetical 100% season ticket base would suffer from a great reduction in concessions and merchandise sales when the fannies don’t file in. The media presentation and all of it’s financial elements would suffer as well. Etc, etc.

Oh, and losing’s no fun.

Goal two is to build a Stanley Cup contender. That’s gonna take some time. Goal one is potentially in the wheelhouse for next season; goal number-2 isn’t.

Strides might be taken towards that goal, but it ain’t happening in the next 12 months.

Kraken Assets

Today we’re only concerned about what needs to be done to reach goal one. We’ll save the longer-term and full positional breakdown for later.

Start from the goal line out as always.

A healthy set of Philipp Grubauer and Joey Daccord, both under contract for next season, can legitimately help the Kraken reach the playoffs.

The blueline needs help, it needs depth. For all intents and purposes, from last season to this, Kraken General Manager Ron Francis swapped out 29-year-old Carson Soucy and brought in 33-year-old Brian Dumoulin. Soucy, a free agent last summer, told us in the preseason after he joined the Canucks that he initially tried to stick around Seattle.

As it turns out, he’s making $100,000 more per season than Dumoulin for three seasons instead of two. The two have almost identical possession analytics with Soucy piling up more hits and blocked shots as a Kraken. Dumoulin turns the puck over less.

Did we need MORE Stanley Cup champion experience? That’s the one thing Seattle has oodles of … Dumoulin, Schultz, Gourde, Dunn, Schwartz, Grubauer, Burakovsky … but it only really matters in certain situations. Namely the playoffs.

Without delving into full defensemen report cards and analysis, let’s just say this blueline needs to get younger and deeper. Four of the regulars are over-30. The status quo again next season won’t fly.

Up front: Awful years for three or four players in terms of production, sometimes from what appeared to be lackadaisical play.

The center position is the most important up front and right now, if above average is the standard, the position for the Kraken is sub-standard to say the least.

They also need more depth on the wings. Tomas Tatar was a welcomed addition in December. He’s 33.

You know what’s a problem? When veteran players, of the championship ilk we referred to, believe that even if they work their asses off, it’s not going to matter in the long run. That’s discouraging.

Did I mention there’s a lot of work to do.

Earlier Kraken:

— Simmer’s Sunday 9; Kraken Decision Making, Scandalous PR, Sledge!

— Mistakes Cost Kraken, Capitals Win 2-1

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.