It is that time of year where we all do some self-reflecting, so I thought it would be a great time to share my top 10 Seattle Kraken events of 2022.
#10 – The 2022 trade deadline
On the surface, the Kraken did not have one specific big trade that overwhelmed fans, but the sum of the parts will set this organization up for a while. With only seven picks in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the prospect cupboards were empty. By contrast, the Vegas Golden Knights had 12 selections in their first NHL Entry Draft in 2017.
General manager Ron Francis added 10 draft picks scattered across the 2022, 2023, and 2024 drafts, which includes three second-round selections in the 2022 draft. That directly led to the Kraken selecting Jani Nyman, Niklas Kokko, and David Goyette. Time will tell if any of the picks accumulated during the trade deadline will materialize into impactful players, but the more chips you have on the table, the more likely one of them will hit.
#9 – Outreach efforts of the 2022-23 season
The Kraken organization and players have been a lot more visible in the community in the first couple months of the 2022-23 season. It warms my heart to see these players getting out in the community. Part of this is directly related to COVID restrictions the team had to face last season, but another reason is the players and players’ families are feeling more comfortable with the community at large. Expect to see more of this in 2023 and beyond.
#8 – The Oliver Bjorkstrand trade
The returns on this trade have yet to be realized. Otherwise, I would have it in the top five. Bjorkstrand was acquired on for a third- and a fourth-round pick. That is a steal for a player of Bjorkstrand’s caliber. The Kraken put themselves in an excellent position to use their salary cap space as a weapon. Bjorkstrand only has four goals on the season, shooting just 4.7 percent, but he is much better than his numbers have shown with the Kraken and will eventually breakout.
#7 – Arrival of Buoy
There are still some haters out there, but Buoy has been an absolute treat to watch at Kraken games. Kids (and dogs) adore him. He has been a great addition to the club, and I will not accept any slander against him.
#6 – Healthy start to the 2022-23 season
I mentioned it last week in my Monday Musings, but the health of the team this season has been a big advantage. The roster has been very consistent all year and is a big contributing factor to where the team is in the standings. Only 25 unique players have suited up for the Kraken this season versus 30 unique skaters at this point last season.
#5 – Launch of the Coachella Valley Firebirds
From an overall effort, the launch of the Firebirds should be No. 1. There was so much involved in getting this franchise off the ground, from building Acrisure Arena to signing 20+ players, plus hiring the entire coaching and support staff around the club. The Coachella Valley Firebirds will be one of the main contributors to developing talent for the Kraken, and it was important they do it right. The team is also performing well on the ice with a 19-6-3 record and is currently tied for first place in the Pacific Division in the AHL.
#4 – Signature wins in November
November was an absolute blast to be a Kraken fan, as the boys went 10-1-1 in the month. The record was nice, but they also rattled off impressive wins against the Kings, Rangers, Capitals, and the Golden Knights. It proved they can play with the big dogs in the league. Despite the rough patch they are going through right now, the Kraken are in a good position and will compete for a playoff spot, thanks to their performance in November.
#3 – Shane Wright slipping to No. 4 overall in the NHL Entry Draft
Even a week before the draft, nobody thought Shane Wright would have dropped to No. 4 in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. We have heard time and time again, you build your team through the center position, so when Wright was available to Seattle, the Kraken jumped on him. It might not be apparent right now, but the long-term outlook of this franchise being centered by Matty Beniers and Wright bodes well. This could go down as one of those significant moments in the franchise’s history.
#2 – Signing of Andre Burakovsky
Going into the offseason, the Kraken’s top issue to address was goal scoring. The Kraken were 28th in the league in goals scored last season, so they went out and signed one of the top goal scorers available in free agency without mortgaging the future. Burakovsky has always been known as a great shooter that has played in crowded lineups. In Seattle he is averaging the most time-on-ice per game of his career and is on pace to set career bests in goals and points.
#1 – Arrival of Matty Beniers
After his second season with the Michigan Wolverines, Beniers signed his entry-level contract with the Kraken on April 10 and joined the team immediately. Matty represented hope and the future of this franchise, and when he signed, there was a significant buzz amongst the fans in anticipation.
The Kraken organization and media folks did their best to lower expectations for the 19-year-old rookie by preaching patience, but Matty never got the memo. He scored nine points over his 10 games in the 2021-22 season and has carried that kind of performance into the 2022-23 season. Beniers is currently tied for second in goals on the team and third in points.
If you think I have missed something or have a special Kraken memory you would like to share, please do in the comments section below so we can all enjoy it. Happy New Year, everybody.