Kraken season preview: Beniers, Burakovsky bring bright future

The 2022-23 NHL season begins on October 7. With training camps now open, NHL.com takes a look at three keys, the inside scoop on roster questions and the projected lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the Seattle Kraken.

Coach: Dave Hakstol (season two)

Last season: 27-49-6, eighth in Pacific Division. did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs

3 KEYS

1. Be elite

The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft was not designed to stock the Kraken with elite talent. They were left to find out through trade, free agency and especially the NHL Draft. So perhaps the most exciting and important things going into Seattle’s second NHL season — both short-term and long-term — are the top prospects Matty Beniers and Shane Wright.

Beniers, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NHL draft, had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 10 games with the Kraken at the end of last season. The 19-year-old could be the centerpiece in the front line. Wright, the No. 4 pick in the 2022 NHL draft, had 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) with Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League last season. Is the 18-year-old returning to Kingston or staying in Seattle?

2. Score more

Seattle tied for 28th in goals per game (2.60) and ranked 29th on the power play (14.6 percent) last season. Three free agent additions will help: Forward Andre Burakovsky set NHL career highs in goals (22), assists (39) and points (61) with the Colorado Avalanche last season. Forward Oliver Bjorkstrand set NHL career highs in goals (28) and points (57) with the Columbus Blue Jackets while tying his NHL career high in assists (29). Defender Justin Schultz had 23 points (four goals, 19 assists) for the Washington Capitals.

Video: Burakovsky enters Seattle

3. Stop the puck

That was the hope Philipp Grubauer would make up for some of the Kraken’s shortcomings last season, but went 18-31-5 with a 3.16 goals-against average, .889 save percentage and two shutouts. No goaltender who played more than 22 games had a lower save percentage.

Backup Chris Drigger went 9-14-1 with a 2.96 GAA, .899 save percentage and one shutout. While skaters need to do more to help their goaltenders, Grubauer needs to rebound. Martin Jones he should fill in well as the backup while Driedger misses the first three months recovering from knee surgery.

ROSTER UPGRADE

Making the cut

With the goalies and defense all but set, all eyes will be on the forward group in Seattle. There are questions surrounding who will make the roster on opening night. General manager Ron Francis has said Beniers is ready to be in the NHL, and coach Dave Hakstol said Wright is outstanding and will be given every opportunity to prove he belongs in the League.

If they are both in the lineup as the top two centers, who will take the remaining spots? Could John Gourd to move to the ward? And where will Ryan Donatowho signed a one-year deal on July 27, does he fit into the revamped lineup that now includes Burakovsky and Bjorkstrad?

The most interesting addition

NHL Central Scouting ranked Wright the No. 1 North American skater entering the draft, and many believed the Montreal Canadiens would select him No. 1. At least one fan wore a Wright No. 51 Canadiens jersey at the draft at the Bell Centre. at least three wore T-shirts that read “WRIGHT CHOICE” with the “C” from the Canadiens logo. But not only did the Canadiens pass on Wright, but so did the New Jersey Devils at No. 2 and the Arizona Coyotes at No. 3. How does he hold up?

The biggest possible surprise

Alex Weinberg, who was the No. 14 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, had 59 points in 80 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016-17 and had 17 goals in 56 games with the Florida Panthers in 2020-21. But he had 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 80 games with the Kraken last season, and now all eyes are on Beniers and Wright. The 27-year-old center has the potential to be more of an impact player. The Kraken could use a surprise season from him.

Ready to overcome

Beniers had 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 37 games at the University of Michigan last season and played for the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championship and the Beijing Olympics. When he got to the NHL, he didn’t just get his feet wet. He made an impact. After all the hockey he played last season at different levels, he may have an easier transition into the schedule of an 82-game schedule than most rookies coming straight out of college.

Fantasy bedroom

Vince DunnD (average fantasy draft position: 156.5) — Last season, he had an NHL career high in points per game average (0.48, 35 in 73 games) and was second on Seattle in power-play points (11) behind the forward Jared McCann (17). Dunn is a fantastic deep sleeper prospect who should play on the first power-play unit and benefit from new talent around him in wings Oliver Bjorkstrand and Andre Burakovsky and, if they make the roster out of training camp, rookie center Matty Beniers and Shane Wright. . — Anna Dua

ANTICIPATED LINEUP

Andre Burakovsky — Matty Beniers — Oliver Bjorkstrad

Jaden Schwartz — Alex Wennberg — Jordan Eberle

Jared McCann — Yanni Gourde — Carson Kuhlman

Brandon TaneffMorgan GeekieJunas Donskoi

Vince Dunn — Adam Larson

Jamie Olesiak — Justin Schultz

Carson SushiWill Borgen

Philipp Grubauer

Martin Jones

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