There has been a lot of reflection on the Seattle Kraken’s great season, with plenty of praise and accolades for the massive improvement between the first and second years of the franchise. The team deserves credit for the 40-point improvement, but with Seattle’s playoff push in the rearview mirror, we are at the point where it’s time to look toward next season. With that in mind, we call out four opportunities for the Kraken to improve before next season.
Improve the power play
Overall, the Kraken power play was fine during the regular season. They were ranked 21st across the league but 14th out the 16 teams that made the playoffs. The Kraken power play was challenged when Andre Burakovsky went down with injury on Feb. 7. At the time of his injury, Burakovsky was leading the Kraken in power-play points and was third in power-play ice time.
The need to improve the power play next season might be exasperated by the potential departure of Daniel Sprong. Sprong was second on the Kraken in goals scored with the manpower advantage. Sprong is a restricted free agent (RFA) with arbitration rights, which might mean he has priced himself out of playing with Seattle next season, as early projections have him finding close to $3 million in annual salary, should he hit the free-agent market.
The Kraken might not need a personnel change to see an improvement on the power play, though. It was only 36 days, but when Eeli Tolvanen and Burakovsky were in the lineup together and getting time on the power play, the Kraken were ranked 13th in the league over that stretch. In addition to a healthy Burakovsky, Matty Beniers should see an improvement in his power-play contributions as he continues to evolve his game in the NHL.
It was no secret that the Kraken struggled in the face-off dot this season. They were ranked 31st out of 32 teams in face-off win percentage over the 2022-23 regular season. We do acknowledge that winning face-offs is not strongly correlated to winning hockey games, so we would like to expand this improvement area to include play around face-offs. It is not so much about winning the face-off itself but obtaining possession immediately after the face-off. To understand the difference, here is an example where the Kraken officially won the face-off and one where they lost the face-off.
Measuring possession after face-offs is challenging using publicly tracked and shared data, but one thing that was particularly noticeable was the goals against that came immediately after face-offs in the playoffs.
Better and more consistent goaltending
One bright spot for the Kraken this season was that goaltending improved year over year. Early on, they got good goaltending from Martin Jones, and Philipp Grubauer hit his stride toward the second half of the season, and that carried into the playoffs. Jones will most likely be hitting the free agency market this summer, and the Kraken will welcome back Chris Driedger who suffered a torn ACL last year. Driedger did not play in the NHL this season, but he did play a bit in the AHL as part of his rehabilitation.
As good as Grubauer was in the second half of the season and in the playoffs, we still think there is room for improvement for him to be more consistent throughout the year.
Be better at home
This one seemed to puzzle us all season. The Kraken were particularly worse at home compared to on the road over the 2022-23 season.
We are at a loss for what they can do here, but Climate Pledge Arena—with its raucous atmosphere—should provide a true home-ice advantage.
We understand that some of these areas to improve are stating the obvious and might take more than a season or two to turn around.
Are there areas you think we missed? If so, leave them in the comments section.