The Kraken defense can shut down any team on any night
When the Seattle Kraken built this team through the expansion draft, they had the right idea in mind; sticking to a defense first approach. It was no surprise that the team was playing the long-game and building things the right way- not the Vegas way. When Vegas went through the expansion draft they found a way to manipulate opposing GMs (forcing trades that would have not otherwise been done) into getting players that they wanted while stocking draft capital. I honestly had never seen anything like it.
Teams wanting to get out from under garbage contacts gave away players and draft capital in exchange for cap relief. The home run of the expansion draft was the Pittsburgh Penguins not protecting Hall of Fame/superstar goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Just wow. The list of players not protected was interesting.
The Kraken were smart and took top-end defensive talent and impactful forwards. It was clear after the draft that the team was not going to score a lot of goals (setting the stage early for the next offseason team needs).
Vince Dunn, Adam Larsson, Jamie Oleksiak, Cale Fleury, and Will Borgen were all original expansion draft Kraken players. With exception to Fleury, they are the core of this team and the backbone of the roster. Nicely done by the team brass. Three years into the league and five of their 6 starting defensemen came from the expansion draft. I haven’t even discussed Justin Schultz and his role. Crazy deep defensive group.
The Kraken defense is great at shutting down the opposition and pushing the puck outside the house (the zone between the faceoff circles and net). They hit, they block shots, and they limit the quality shots given up. Dunn was drafted for his experience (won a Cup with the Blues) and offensive ceiling. Last season he broke out with14 goals, 50 assists, and 64 points in 81 games.
He was handsomely rewarded with 4-year/$29.4 million contract.
The team lost big bodied Carson Soucy to free agency (Vancouver) but upgraded significantly with the signing of Brian Dumoulin. He should fit right in with this team and will be a fan favorite in no time. Adam Larsson returns to lead this group and acts like a vacuum on the ice with his crazy shot blocking.
The three biggest developments to watch this season will be Dunn’s offensive input, the development of rookie Ryker Evans, and how defensemen Borgen and Fleury handle potential increased ice time. Evans has all of the talent in the world and the team is hoping his puck moving abilities translate in the NHL.
Defensive group grade: A-
Dunn’s offensive numbers and Evan’s potential push this group from a B/B+ to an A-. The pairings all play well together, they hit, they block shots, and they all have shown that they can jump into the rush at times, contributing on offense. Their ability to limit the opposition’s quality shots make them special. If Dunn can repeat last season’s success and Evans is a star, an A- becomes an A.