While the inaugural season of the Seattle Kraken may not have gone the way most fans wanted, there are still things to look forward to.
After the Expansion Draft, many questioned the moves made by General Manager Ron Francis and his plans for the future. As the season played out, things didn’t exactly go the way of the Kraken. The team sits at the bottom of the Pacific Division and second to last in the Western Conference, while ranking 30th in the NHL. It should be mentioned, however, that they are only one point ahead of both the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes and could easily slip into 32nd place. With 12 games left in the season it wouldn’t be all too surprising if Seattle fell to last place. Especially when those games include matchups against top teams like the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, and even the Los Angeles Kings. While the Kraken may have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, there is still plenty for fans to look forward to.
1. Matty Beniers
While Matty Beniers may not be on the Kraken roster officially, he is the first ever draft pick of the team and has shown great promise in his NCAA career. Beniers and the Michigan Wolverines are currently competing at the Frozen Four in Boston. The Wolverines will take on Denver in the first game and could play either Minnesota or Minnesota State in the finals should they beat Denver. Beniers also managed to crack the Team USA roster at the 2022 Olympics, helping score along the way. This collegiate season, Beniers has 43 points in 36 games and was even nominated for Big Ten player of the year. He also managed to secure the Big Ten scoring champion as he beat out all other Big Ten players by four points for the title.
The Michigan sophomore has shown he can be a dominant power forward and Kraken fans should be more than excited for him to join the team. It is widely believed that once the Wolverines are done with their season he will join the Kraken. If he does so he will be the first ever Kraken draft pick to play in the NHL. Beniers shows great promise and could help out greatly in the scoring department once he makes his debut.
2. NHL Draft/Draft Lottery
One of the only good things about being at the bottom of the league is the benefit of the Draft Lottery. Currently where the Kraken stand they have a 10.9% chance of getting the first overall pick, and should they slip, those odds could go up to 25.7%. As of right now the Kraken have the best odds at the third overall pick. That being said, the lowest the Kraken can go as of now is the fifth overall pick and even if the Kraken go on a run moving them somewhere between 29th-26th place they would still be within the top ten picks.
No matter where they land in the first round this year’s draft class is a strong one. Led by players like Shane Wright, Joakim Kemell, and Logan Cooley, it promises to be a good year for rookies. Ron Francis has a good history with drafting, bringing in players like Sebastian Aho, Alex Nedeljkovic, and Martin Necas who have all in some way helped turn around the Carolina Hurricanes franchise. With the strong scouting group around the GM, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Kraken walk away with the sleeper pick of the draft. The Kraken also managed to snag a good deal of picks during the trade deadline which sees them having a whopping 12 picks this year with five coming within the first round.
Not to mention what Ron Francis managed to secure for future drafts as well:
3. Coachella Valley Firebirds
For this current season the Kraken have been sending their prospects to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. Seattle shares their AHL affiliate with the Florida Panthers. This complicates the process of calling up players in emergency situations. For most AHL and NHL partnerships, call ups are routine and easy as most are within the same time zone. Seattle had to deal with moving players from the East to West coast this season. Beginning in the 2022-23 AHL season, the Kraken will have their own team, the Coachella Valley Firebirds. This will make things much easier as the Kraken will be able to set the entire lineup and get a good look at all of their prospects.
It also helps that they may just have some of the best uniforms in all of the AHL:
All in all, nothing but good can come from the Kraken having their own AHL franchise. It wouldn’t have made a lot of sense for them to have their own team this year. However, now that their prospect pool is growing, it should help speed up the development of Kraken players and prospects.
So while Kraken fans may not have postseason hockey to watch, it doesn’t mean that they have nothing to look forward to. The future of the Kraken is bright and the only way is up. Fans may be upset with the outcome of the season, especially when compared to Vegas’s first season, but GM Ron Francis is setting up the NHL’s newest franchise for long-term success.