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2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Outlook: Seattle Kraken

It was historic for all the wrong reasons. Do the Kraken offer any fantasy options worth your while?
Seattle Kraken

The fantasy season is upon us. Another year of tears of joy and heartbreak.

To help you along, here’s your fantasy outlook for all 32 teams.

Seattle Kraken
Last season: 27-49-6, 8th Pacific, 30th overall. GF: 28th, GA: 24th, PP: 29th, PK: 31st

It was historic for all the wrong reasons. 

There was a ton of fanfare around the Kraken’s inaugural season, but their expansion draft picks were widely panned from the beginning, and the critics proved to be right for most of the season. They had seemingly eschewed better talent for better fit, but the pieces never came together for a franchise steeped in analytics. They couldn’t score and no one had predicted Philipp Grubauer would fall precipitously from being a Vezina finalist to being the league's worst starter in a single season. The Kraken boasted only three players who scored at least 20 goals and Vince Dunn’s team-leading 28 assists ranked tied-151st in the league. They didn't do anything particularly well, and unlike the Knights' "misfits" identity that helped everyone pull in the same direction, the Kraken lacked a unified identity in the way they played and the way they carried themselves. 

It didn’t go as they planned, but they’re a smart group and pivoted quickly, turning their eyes toward the future by collecting draft picks and building a deeper prospect pool. Only 27-year-old Andre Burakovsky signed a contract longer than two years with the Kraken; last summer, they handed out six such contracts to veteran free agents. Their big acquisition was Oliver Bjorkstrand, but they got him at a discount that was too difficult to pass up when the Jackets were forced to move salary. The consensus first overall pick also fell into their laps at fourth overall this past summer, and they have three second-round picks in the upcoming draft with potential for more if they can peddle some of their impending UFA’s including Joonas Donskoi, Ryan Donato and Carson Soucy. Can you believe this is a capped-out team?

Best Fantasy Option: Jared McCann, C/LW

Interestingly enough, other than top rookie Beniers (more on him later), McCann is projected to finish fifth (!) in scoring on the team, according to the Pool Guide. This is mostly because the Kraken have a balanced (read: no elite players) attack and it’s possible they end up with the most 20-goal scorers in the league but none over 30. 

The Kraken are projected to have seven (!) players score between 44 and 54 points, but where McCann stands out is his shooting, having led the Kraken with 199 shots last season, and dual-position eligibility, occasionally given you a chance to collect faceoff wins from the wing. The Kraken have also added two good wingers in Bjorkstrand and Burakovsky, too, so their centers should really benefit.

Hidden Gem: Matty Beniers, C

Beniers came into the league projecting to be a two-way center, but he produced like an elite scorer in his short stint. He finished with a team-high 0.90 P/GP with nine points in 10 games, four of which came on the power play. He’ll be a popular Calder pick because he’s a very good young player and also because he might end up playing the most minutes among rookie forwards with a top-line role. 

Even if he scores at a lower clip, Beniers also offers some modest numbers in both hits and blocked shots. Pro-rated, he would’ve finished with 32 blocked shots and 57 hits, both of which would’ve ranked in the top five among the Kraken’s forwards. If all of the Kraken forwards are expected to score points in a tight range, it’s best to just go for the one with the more upside, and without question it’s Beniers.

Goalies:

When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up, right? The Kraken have doubled down on that buy-low mindset, signing Martin Jones to be the backup with Chris Driedger out with a long-term injury. 

Last season, Grubauer was the league’s worst goalie in GSAA, and Jones has been the worst over the past five seasons, according to naturalstattrick.com. Together, they were a combined 32.42 goals saved below average, and head into the season as the worst-rated duo. The upshot is that both goalies have fared much better in the past, and even the slightest return to form should help the Kraken win more than 27 games. Grubauer has a lot more room to improve as the potential No. 1, and it’s likely the Kraken start with him and then try and figure out some sort of timeshare during the season. Fantasy managers most bullish on the Kraken can draft Grubauer in the late rounds with the hope he can win around 25 games, but otherwise, he’ll likely go undrafted. Keep an eye on him, anyway; if Grubauer starts hot, he might be worth a roster stash right away.

Outlook:

The Pacific should be tougher. Edmonton and Calgary are at the top, Vegas should improve, and both the Canucks and Kings head into the season with some optimism. That pushes the Kraken to fifth, and even if they surprise to the upside, it’s hard to see them finish any higher than third. A lot of things have to go right; their goaltending has to be solid, their defense mistake-free, and their offense deep with three lines that can score. Beniers offers the more upside, and otherwise, it’s a mish-mash of second-line forwards who will be on and off the waiver wire throughout the season. 

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