Seattle Kraken, Time To Get Your First Report Card!

Don't hide it from your parents! After one week of being an NHL franchise, The Kraken have performed like a roller coaster. And they may not be the grades you wanted to see, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

Up, Down, Up, and Down Again

For the Seattle Kraken, the welcome mat was rolled out and then promptly pulled out from under them. As a result of the carpet being yanked out from under them, the first week of games has been tumultuous at best. Starting the season with four of your main players entering Covid Protocols does not bode well. Thankfully three of the four, Jamie Oleksiak Jared McCann, and Joonas Donskoi, ended up hopping on a last-minute flight to join the team in Vegas. Now, as the first home game in Kraken history becomes a reality, we bring you the first-ever KTI Report Card.

Seattle Kraken Grades

Jaden Schwartz C-

A perfect example of the eye test matching the analytical test. Schwartz just has not been good to start the season. Five games, one point, -3 +/-rating (Yes, I still value +/-), and five shots on goal… for a first-line winger. It’s early and he should find his groove. This is a trend you’ll see throughout this piece.

Jared McCann B+

Leading the team in scoring after five games, McCann has looked the most comfortable on the ice and is proving to be a catalyst for offense. As the teams’ number one center (prior to Gourde’s return) that is what any coach would expect. As a result of being more offensive-minded, his defense has lagged behind. -5 after the first five games AND leading the team in scoring is not a good look. Add to that a 42% faceoff winning percentage and you have a powderkeg of inefficiency.

Jordan Eberle B-

Eberle has been a sparkplug and his skill on the forecheck is best in show. But he is snakebit on offense to start the season. His game is like a 1/4 inch off from being its normal self. The man loves the way rubber hits steel. With the way he is playing, even if he isn’t scoring, he will still be a huge part of the Kraken game plan going forward.

Marcus Johansson N/A

Hurt after the opener, there is no way to grade his performance. But, this was a warning when the Kraken got him.

Alex Wennberg C+

Missing some training camp has to have a little to do with his slow start. Regardless of that, though, he is playing smart hockey offensively. Wennberg’s patience in the offensive zone is a big plus and a great way to creatively set up shots on goal. 47% on faceoffs will have to get better… see a pattern developing amongst Kraken centres? He does lead the team in one stat, but I don’t think he would be proud of it… Wennberg leads the team in defensive zone giveaways.

Joonas Donskoi C+

But he gets an A for effort. Avs fans will tell you, straight up, that when Joonas is hot he is RED HOT. On the flip side, when he is cold, he is ICE COLD. And to start the season, he is seeing a cooling trend. Three apples keep Donskoi on the passing side of the grade scale, as does his creativity, but the team needs goals and they are looking to him for some of those goals.

Ryan Donato B+

The man scored the first goal in team history… Nuff said. But honestly, this guy has played his heart out. Donato leads the team in shots and is second in penalty minutes that were for standing up for his team. The fact of the matter is Donato never got the chance to play in San Jose. This right here is the perfect example of how being chosen by an expansion team can change the course of your career if you have the desire and the talent.

Morgan Geekie C

After a stellar preseason and one helluva first game, Geekie hasn’t shown much. The talent is there, but something isn’t working for him. It may be his linemates or it may just be this is what you get from the kid. Kraken fans will find out as he gets new linemates in Brandon Tanev and Joonas Donskoi. He MUST work on his faceoffs… currently at a measly 38.2%.

Morgan Geekie before his haircut. Photo by Benjamin Perri

Mason Appleton D+

The only thing I can say is he has been a non-factor. His speed is useless if he remains glued to the boards on his rushes. That strategy leaves zero angle for a shot and no avenue for a centering pass. Mason is averaging a shot a game and based on this graphic, few of them have been a high-percentage shot. He did almost double his shot total versus the Canucks in the home opener, a few being in danger areas of the ice, but it’s not enough to push him into a passing grade.

Mason Appleton Shot Map courtesy of Evolving Hockey.

Brandon “Turbo” Tanev A-

I spoke about Tanev HERE regarding what this guy would bring to the team. He does not stop his motor. The points he has, three, are all goals that resulted from his work ethic. I called he would be a fan favorite and a fan favorite he has become.

Riley Sheahan B+

For a guy that was signed as a free agent, that not many knew about, Riley Sheahan has been a wonderful addition to the Kraken. He kills penalties and drives the 4th line. Nothing he does stands out, be it good or bad, but he brings his lunch pail to the rink day in and day out.

Nathan Bastian N/A

Bastian has played every game and there is nothing to report yet. Five shots on goal, a ton of penalty minutes, and a -2 rating.

Nathan Bastian. Photo by Benjamin Perri

Yanni Gourde N/A

Getting Gourde back much earlier than expected is the early Christmas gift this team needed. His energy and skill are most welcome. His first two games showed promise for him, but it’ll take a few more before we have a large enough sample size to really give some decent insight. But his faceoff percentage in two games is the best among team centers at 52.8%

Calle Jarnkrok N/A

One game sample size. Nothing to show.

Haydn Fleury C-

In three games we have seen flashes of the player Ron Francis keeps thinking he could be. But it’s just that, flashes. There hasn’t been any sustained period of time in those three games where Fleury has impressed. Honestly, the bad things stick out a lot more… like his weak clearing attempts that never seem to actually clear the zone. It’s clear the kid has talent, the team just needs to see it consistently and that will come with more ice time.

Mark “Gio” Giordano B

The first-ever team captain scored his first goal of the season in the home opener, and it was a beauty of a wrist shot, up and over the shrugging shoulder of a butterflied Thatcher Demko. And he sure does it eat up the minutes! Gio is currently second on the team in total ice time, playing over a period per game. But being at a -6, and leading the team in that department doesn’t bode well for the team if it continues in that direction.

Jamie “Big Rig” Oleksiak B-

And then we have the Big Rig. The sample size of play is so small, so it seems that each report card is repetitive… but that’s the road for an expansion team, and it is a bumpy one. His physicality hasn’t been there yet as he settles into his new environs. The Kraken need him to be his physical self, especially when it comes to clearing out the slot. And last but not least, he MUST retain possession of the puck in the defensive zone. His 35 d-zone giveaways are tied for second in the league… with Adam Larsson.

Jamie Oleksiak aka Big Rig. Photo by Benjamin Perri

Adam Larsson C+

He’s shooting the puck and that’s a good thing, but he is also struggling in his own end, which is not. His partner has been a roulette of players, but I have yet to see him paired with Dunn which I feel would be the best fit. Let Dunn run some offense from the left side while Larsson can focus on protection and outlets because right now he is trying to do too much and that is leading to giveaways in his own end. Hopefully, this change will come sooner rather than later.

Vince Dunn B

Speaking of Dunn, we have seen glimpses of the player everyone thinks he can be. Slick skating, outlet passing, puck-moving defenseman with a stellar shot. But being relegated to the third pairing and getting the lowest minutes out of all the D so far is not ideal. This is exactly why he wanted out of St. Louis, and I suspect if things don’t change, he will want out of Seattle too. The first home goal in franchise history was a gorgeous display of what he could be doing given the ice time and freedom to use his skill. That little shoulder drop to freeze the defender then one more stride before ripping the shot was glorious. There’s a star defenseman inside him, the team needs to let Dunn be Dunn.

Jeremy Lauzon B+

Much to the surprise of a lot of fans, Lauzon has been better than expected. His physical presence was billed as one of his strong suits, but never did anyone expect it to be this good. Lauzon is strong along the boards and wins the puck in a lot of the one-on-one battles in the defensive zone. He has stood up for his teammates when needed. And, he is holding the line in the offensive zone better than most. There’s a lot to like about this 24-year-old from Val-d’Or!

Carson Soucy C

One gorgeous goal on ten shots. Other than that, the play of Soucy has been uneven at best. The physicality is there but the consistency that was lauded prior to his arrival has been missing. He could lose his spot to Fleury if he doesn’t wake up his game.

Chris Driedger Incomplete

31 minutes is not enough for any real analysis, let alone a grade. Speedy recovery to Driedg!

Joey Daccord N/A

One game where he looked great but didn’t get much help… a theme you’ll see in the next players’ grade.

Philipp Grubauer D+

There have been stretches where fans got a glimpse at the Vezina finalist doing his thing, but stretches do not secure Ws. There have been too many soft goals getting by Grube. Angles haven’t been played perfectly, leaving the short side open for pinpoint snipers to attack, and attack they have. But it’s not all on him. There hasn’t been much help for Grube. The Kraken are 10th in d-zone giveaways and that doesn’t help his cause. Through five games, his stat line reads 3.80 goals against and .869 save percentage. Let’s just leave it at that.

Overall C+

While everything hasn’t been rosy in the Pacific Northwest to start the season, there have been positives. In the home opener last night, Seattle accomplished the goals they set for themselves prior to the game: quicker transitions, speed through the neutral zone, and clean zone entries as seen in the clip below. But everything broke down in the third period as they gave up three goals. As they get healthy and everyone comes back from the Covid list, fans can expect the team to start coming together. If they can cut back on the d-zone turnovers and get a few scrappy wins, the confidence will be flowing and they could still make a push for the playoffs. The talent is there, it just needs to be tapped and exploited.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Seattle Kraken, October 23rd 2021

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