More depth signings for Seattle Kraken, US Women take silver, NHL returning to Olympics

More depth signings for Seattle Kraken, US Women take silver, NHL returning to Olympics

Can you smell that? That funky, yet wonderful aroma? It smells good, doesn’t it? You know what that smell is? That’s the smell of hockey season, folks! Ok, perhaps “good smelling” and “hockey” don’t typically go together all that well, but nonetheless, it’s in the air. Kraken players are making last-minute preparations and will be descending upon the Emerald City in the coming weeks, as the team’s inaugural training camp is just around the corner. In fact, believe it or not, the first preseason games in team history will be played THIS MONTH!

We’re almost there, gang. And while the hockey world has been largely dormant for the past month, there have been a few things happening of late. We fill you in on what you may have missed on this latest edition of Weekly One-Timers. 

Seattle Kraken News

Kraken sign Riley Sheahan

The Kraken continued adding to their stockpile of veteran depth players on one-year deals this week, signing 29-year-old forward Riley Sheahan to a contract worth $850K. The 6-foot-2, 216 pounder won’t be a top-six guy, but he can provide some center help to the checking line and win faceoffs. He also kills penalties, so there’s some value there. How Sheahan slots in remains to be seen, but we could envision him centering Seattle’s fourth line for much of the season or serving as an extra forward for when injuries happen. 

Sheahan has never produced big numbers offensively and is coming off a season in Buffalo in which he notched just four goals in 53 games. So, he isn’t here to fill up the opposing team’s net. Says Ron Francis via press release, “His versatility, strong penalty-killing ability, and skill in the faceoff circle make him a valuable addition to our forward group.”

So, there you go. He’s a depth guy who can play in the middle. Sheahan has 566 career NHL games under his belt with the Red Wings, Penguins, Panthers, Oilers, and Sabres. He has 70 career goals and 107 assists, and he is slightly above 50 percent in the faceoff circle, with his best season at the dot coming in 2018-19 when he won 54.93 percent of his draws.

Kraken sign Gustav Olofsson

This one actually happened last week, but we haven’t had a WOT article since then, so we will mention it. The Kraken also brought defenseman Gustav Olofsson, 26, into the fold on yet another one-year deal worth $750K. The Colorado College and Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) alumnus was once a highly regarded prospect in the Minnesota Wild organization. But multiple serious shoulder and knee injuries derailed things for him right when it looked like he was about to break the NHL lineup full time. 

In all, Olofsson has 59 career NHL games with 11 assists. He played last season for the Laval Rocket of the AHL, where he notched a goal and 11 assists in 24 games.  

Seattle Thunderbird Thomas Milic invited to Kraken camp

Thunderbird netminder Thomas Milic, 18, received an invitation to make the trek up I-5 from Kent for Seattle Kraken training camp, slated to start Sept. 22. Milic was named the WHL U.S. Division’s rookie of the year last season, with 2.74 goals against average and .913 save percentage in nine games. He also allowed just one goal in two games for Team Canada at the U18 World Championship in the spring. 

Milic did not get selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, but he still has two years of eligibility. Kraken training camp gives him a chance to elevate his status as an NHL prospect and helps Seattle by having a warm body to fill a goal crease. 

Jerseys becoming available 

A few fans who signed up for a WaFd Bank account in conjunction with their season ticket plans have already received their personalized Kraken jerseys.

What we learned from the early release is that the Kraken will wear a neat little inaugural season patch, which features some sea, some sky, and some Mount Rainier. As far as patches go, it’s pretty cool! 

Jerseys go on sale for the general public starting on Sept. 15.

USA takes silver at Women’s Worlds

After having the event canceled and/or postponed two separate times, it was great to see the IIHF Women’s World Championship finally get played out. The tournament did not disappoint, as heated rivals Team USA and Team Canada advanced to the the gold medal game and went to three-on-three overtime. 

Things were looking good for the Americans in the early going of the pivotal contest, as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to two greasy netmouth rebound goals by Alex Carpenter. But the pesky Canadians clawed their way back to level the score midway through the second period. Ann-Renée Desbiens made some great saves down the stretch to carry her squad into the extra frame, where the legendary Marie-Philip Poulin sniped home a game winner that only she knew had gone in. 

By the way, we at Sound Of Hockey are big fans of 20-minute three-on-three sessions. Holy cats! 

Canadian Blayre Turnbull reportedly broke her fibula while celebrating the gold medal win, but then stayed on the ice on a stretcher to celebrate. #HockeyPerson

Around the boards

NHL to participate in the Olympics

The NHL will participate in the Olympics after all! We weren’t particularly surprised to hear this, being that Seattle will play just three games in the entire month of February after the league built a long break into the schedule. But after the league skipped the last Games, we were still hesitant to make assumptions. This is great news for hockey fans all around the world. Nations will submit their “long lists” in mid-October, and final rosters will be announced in January. 

Philipp Grubauer (Germany) and Alexander True (Denmark) are the most likely Seattle Kraken players to represent their respective countries at these Olympics.

UAA hockey program saved

The University of Alaska Anchorage hockey program has been saved! After a wild ride and an incredible fundraising campaign, Save Seawolf Hockey reached its $3 million goal, and UAA announced that it would reinstate the program for the 2022-23 season. Read all about the remarkable efforts of campaign chairperson Kathie Bethard here

Jason Payne hired as only Black head coach in North American pro hockey

The Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL hired Jason Payne this week as their head coach. Payne becomes the only Black head coach in North American professional hockey. The Cyclones are also the only pro hockey team with a female general manager, and they are the same organization from which the Kraken hired Everett Fitzhugh to be the NHL’s first Black play-by-play voice. Payne, 45, was previously the team’s assistant coach and played a 14-year pro career. 

Coyotes make arena bid

After effectively being booted out of Gila River Arena by the City of Glendale, the Arizona Coyotes have been seeking a long-term arena solution in the Phoenix area. This week, the organization submitted a bid to build a new arena in Tempe, a very positive first step in the process. Under their current agreement with Glendale, the Coyotes can only play one more season at Gila River Arena. So if this bid—which will likely require several months of review—gets approved by Tempe, the team will still be without a home starting in 2022-23 and will need to find a temporary venue.

NHL not messing around with anti-vaxxers

The NHL rolled out its COVID protocols for players and staff this week. The league and the NHLPA agreed on the rules, which do not mess around with those who are choosing to not get vaccinated. There will be monetary loss for unvaccinated players who miss time due to infection or close contact with positive cases, and the experiences between vaccinated and unvaccinated players will be very different. Elliotte Friedman had a good rundown of the protocols here. Michael Russo also reports that approximately 95% of NHL players are fully vaccinated.

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

Leader of ‘Save Seawolf Hockey’ optimistic with UAA deadline looming

Leader of ‘Save Seawolf Hockey’ optimistic with UAA deadline looming

Save Seawolf Hockey still needs your help to reach its goal of $3 million to rescue the University of Alaska Anchorage hockey program before its August 30 deadline. To donate or pledge money to the cause, visit saveseawolfhockey.com or text “UAAHOCKEY” to 41444.

It’s been a year since the University of Alaska Anchorage announced that it would cut its men’s hockey program, along with women’s gymnastics and men’s and women’s downhill skiing, to save itself approximately $2.5 million per year amid massive state funding cuts. Now, a grassroots “Save Seawolf Hockey” campaign is on the verge of rescuing the hockey program from what once appeared to be certain extinction.

The chairperson of Save Seawolf Hockey, Kathie Bethard, is a mother of three former NCAA Division I athletes, including a Colorado College hockey player, a UAA hockey player, and a University of Texas soccer player. She’s had a long career as a computer programmer and technology trainer, a work life that really has had nothing to do with college hockey.

Save Seawolf Hockey has been leading the fight to preserve UAA hockey. Image/Save Seawolf Hockey

Instead, she developed a love for the sport when her oldest son first started playing minor hockey in Anchorage at age four. That led to her joining the UAA booster club for the program’s first-ever season, some 42 years ago, and she’s been involved with the club—including serving as the president of its board for six years—in various capacities ever since.

But that involvement with UAA really isn’t what made her the right person to lead this campaign to save her beloved Seawolves. Instead, it was her willingness to simply stand up and do something when it looked like the program would be lost.

“I guess because I said, ‘We can’t let this happen,’” Bethard explains. “People were willing to rally around that cry, jump on board, form a committee, start a grassroots campaign.”

One year ago, UAA announced plans to cut the hockey program

When then-chancellor of UAA Cathy Sandeen announced the school’s plan to eliminate hockey, gymnastics, and skiing in August, 2020, it caught Bethard and the rest of the hockey boosters completely by surprise. In fact, the team itself was only given a two-hour notice before the announcement to gather the players together and let them know what was happening. It was a devastating blow for everyone involved.

“I was just astounded that they could do that with no warning to the public and especially the boosters who have supported this team for 42 years,” recalls Bethard.

She was simply unwilling to accept that fate for the Seawolves and the countless members of the Anchorage community who had supported them over the last four decades, so Save Seawolf Hockey was born.

It started with a write-in email campaign that brought an overwhelming response to the school’s board of regents. That operation eventually led to an agreement by the university that if any of the three sports being axed could raise two years’ worth of operating expenses, then that individual program could be reinstated for the 2022-23 season. For hockey, the annual operating budget is $1.5 million, so a goal of $3 million was set.

While most would see raising $3 million as an impossible task, Bethard and her comrades recognized that now there was a legitimate path to saving the program. “We took that and ran with that. $3 million is a lot of money to raise, but we were really optimistic at first because we had clear plans as to what we were going to do.” 

The pandemic put a wrench in fundraising plans

Making things even more daunting for Save Seawolf Hockey was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Though fans couldn’t attend, the organization still planned to utilize TV broadcasts to facilitate “split the pot” raffles and silent auctions during games as relatively surefire ways to raise funds.

Former UAA captain Derek Donald takes a slapshot. UAA has a long history in the WCHA. Photo/University of Alaska Anchorage

They also figured there would be heightened public interest in the Seawolves during the season. Whether the team survived the budget cuts or not, 2020-21 would be the program’s last run in the storied WCHA. The conference had voted to disband so that seven of its member teams could leave to re-form the old CCHA, cutting out UAA, Alaska Fairbanks, and Alabama Huntsville and leaving those three without a conference.

The increased public interest and fundraising opportunities quickly evaporated when Sandeen announced in November that all winter sports would be canceled, citing, “The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and athletics staff.”

If Save Seawolf Hockey was going to be successful in its goal of raising $3 million, it was going to need some serious help and some serious creativity.

Enter the Seattle Kraken

Bethard and her committee did get creative. They held their raffles and auctions virtually and hosted a youth tournament, “The Seapup Cup,” in conjunction with an outdoor alumni game between UAA and in-state rival UAF. That’s when the Seattle Kraken got involved, a real turning point in the process.

Kraken fans likely saw some of the marketing that the team did back then on behalf of UAA, trying to get people to donate money and leading the way financially with significant donations from the team’s ownership group. But the support didn’t stop with just donations and a few announcements.

Says Bethard, “They’ve been very very generous, and not only generous with their money but generous with their time. They meet with us on a regular basis to help us kind of plan our strategy, how we’re going to do things.” 

Even now, public service announcements are playing on ROOT Sports in Alaska thanks to Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke and his connections to the network that will eventually air Seattle’s games throughout the northwest.

“It’s pretty amazing, actually, the help they’ve given us… It’s their guidance and just clear vision and I guess their positiveness that we’re going to get there, and we are going to get there. We know that.”

Closing in on their goal

Save Seawolf Hockey was originally given a deadline of Feb. 15 to reach its $3 million fundraising goal. That date has long since passed, but when it came and went, the school’s board of regents recognized the real progress that had been made—the group at that time had raised $1.8 million—and unanimously approved a motion to extend the deadline to Aug. 30.

So here we are, just 11 days away from that extended deadline. Where does Save Seawolf Hockey sit? “We’re at $2.65 [million] as of [Tuesday] and we’re gaining momentum every day.” 

Staying the course

There have certainly been some high points in this process, like when Leiweke entered the equation and pledged his support, when UAA president Pat Pitney and the board of regents agreed to extend the fundraising deadline, and when Sean Parnell—who happened to already be a contributor to the cause—was selected as the school’s new chancellor.

But there also have been lows. The team’s last season in the WCHA getting canceled and head coach Matt Curley resigning after seven months as a figurehead for the movement were certainly tough moments to stomach.

Bethard’s hope never waned, though, and her group never lost sight of its goal. “I hate losing so I guess it just increased our determination to show the world we could save this program.”

In it for the long haul

Reaching this goal of covering two years of operating expenses is lofty, but what happens if they reach the goal? What’s to stop the university from cutting its hockey program again after those two seasons are done?

Save Seawolf Hockey has thought of this as well and currently has a memorandum of understanding signed by the school’s athletic department. That MOU indicates that if the boosters reach this goal and continue to help in fundraising efforts for a percentage of the expenses long-term, the school will back the program moving forward.

The UAA Seawolves prepare for a game. Photo/University of Alaska Anchorage

They also now have an important voice supporting them.

“The new chancellor that we have is absolutely awesome. He’s behind the memorandum of understanding one hundred percent,” Bethard says of Parnell. “He’s stepping up to the plate. He’s actually helping us in some of our fundraising calls, he’s meeting with us on a regular basis. It gives me just a tremendous amount of pride, I think, the fact that we’ve won over not only the athletic department but also the university as a whole.” 

Bethard is also hopeful that the Seawolves can find a new conference to play in after they were effectively shunned from the WCHA.

“My big dream and what I’d really love to see is a true Western Collegiate Hockey Association that’s west coast. How many pro teams do we have? California, Washington, Nevada…” She believes there’s a market for it in those places. “Collegiate hockey has its own draw… [They play] because they love it, you know, and they’re out there leaving their heart on the ice every night.” 

It’s funny how sometimes all a movement needs to get its footing is somebody to step up and lead. It doesn’t necessarily matter that person’s background, it just takes passion, commitment, a cause that people believe in, and unbendable perseverance to reach the end goal.

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

Kraken hire Andrew Allen and Dan Bylsma, sign RFA’s – Weekly One-Timers

Kraken hire Andrew Allen and Dan Bylsma, sign RFA’s – Weekly One-Timers

Welcome back to Weekly One-Timers, where the smoke has cleared and the temperature has fallen to a more comfortable level. The Seattle Kraken had another fairly busy week on the hiring and signing front, rounding out their coaching staff a bit more and getting two of their remaining three restricted free agents officially in the fold. Meanwhile, we at Sound Of Hockey have been hunkered down inside trying not to breathe in the poisonous air outside while also trying not to sweat our a**es off. We are thankful for the reprieve that Seattle is experiencing this Sunday. 

Seattle Kraken hire goalie coach and assistant AHL coach

Andrew Allen

The Kraken officially named Andrew Allen as their goalie coach this week. Allen, 45, is already a friend of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast (Episode 110), so it makes perfect sense that Seattle would hire him, being that the most important relationship already exists. But seriously, Allen is an awesome dude with a fascinating story, and his hiring comes as no surprise. 

He played college hockey for the University of Vermont, then went on to play five pro seasons, bouncing back and forth between the ECHL and AHL and dressing in two NHL games for the Florida Panthers. Worth noting, Allen had a brief stint with the famed Macon Whoopee.

When his playing career ended, Allen’s coaching journey started with minor hockey in Canada, before he eventually got the opportunity to coach the Japanese national team.

“I was like a rockstar,” Allen told the Sound Of Hockey Podcast of his time coaching in Japan. “In North America, it’s like goalie-to-student ratio of three or four. They would put a kids camp on their website… It would be like a rock concert where it was sold out in seven minutes. You’d have like 40 goalies on the ice, and you’d have camera flashes coming from the crowd, and I’m like, ‘This is amazing!’ And they were so passionate about hockey. So I had such a great experience in Japan.” 

He then rose through the ranks and was hired as the developmental goalie coach for the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs before becoming the head goalie coach for the Buffalo Sabres, where he spent four seasons. 

Most recently, Allen was a pro scout for the Kraken, specifically focused on goaltending. 

“Andrew has been a valuable member of our team over the last year and played an integral role in the Expansion Draft as our pro goalie scout,” said Kraken general manager Ron Francis via press release. “We’re proud to keep working with him as he transitions to a coaching role, bringing his wealth of experience with him to our team’s day-to-day.” 

Dan Bylsma

The hiring by Seattle of Dan Bylsma as an assistant coach for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers did come as a bit of a surprise. The former Stanley Cup and Jack Adams Award winner had most recently been serving as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings. In the same role but at the AHL level is not where we expected Bylsma to land, especially since he has real NHL head coaching experience and success on his resume. 

Our theory (and this is just a theory) at Sound Of Hockey is that the Kraken are teeing Bylsma up to become the head coach for their AHL affiliate in Palm Springs when that team begins play in 2022-23. Time will tell if we are correct in that prediction. 

“Disco” Dan, 50, played 429 career NHL games. He posted a record of 252-117-32 during his six seasons as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also went 68-73-23 with the Buffalo Sabres over two seasons. 

Said Francis, “Dan joins our organization with an impressive resume, and his experience speaks for itself. He’s won a Stanley Cup, a Jack Adams Award, and he has a proven track record and we look forward to him coaching our prospects in Charlotte alongside head coach Geordie Kinnear.” 

Kraken sign two RFA’s

Cale Fleury

When the Kraken granted the Sound Of Hockey Podcast permission to interview Cale Fleury this past week, we figured it was only a matter of time before it was announced that he had been signed by the team. Sure enough, on the same day we released the episode, the team confirmed it had signed the 22-year-old defenseman to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000 at the NHL level. 

Selected from the Montreal Canadiens over such notable veterans as Carey Price and Shea Weber, Fleury was the youngest player taken in the Expansion Draft. He joins a deep blue line and knows that he will have to fight hard to land a spot with the Kraken. 

“I think for me, I’ll have to be one of the guys that’s battling for a spot, a little bit different than some of the other guys who were drafted obviously,” Fleury said in his podcast interview. “It’s not really a new position for me, it’s kind of what I’ve been in my whole career so far.” 

He added that Francis “would have picked me for a reason,” and he’s absolutely right. Brother of fellow Kraken defenseman Haydn Fleury, Cale played 41 games for the Canadiens in 2019-20 but was bumped down to the AHL’s Laval Rocket this past season with the arrival of Alexander Romanov in Montreal. 

“Cale is a smooth skater that has shown even at his young age to be a responsible defender that can play reliable minutes,” said Francis. “We like his mix of physicality and puck-moving skills and are excited to see him develop with our organization.”

Carsen Twarynski

The Kraken also announced that they had agreed to terms with Carsen Twarynski, 23, the forward that they selected in the Expansion Draft from the Philadelphia Flyers. 

During his tenure in the Flyers organization, Twarynski played 22 NHL games in total, including seven in 2020-21. He also has 107 AHL games under his belt with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, where he notched 38 points. 

Local WHL fans may recognize his name, as he played major junior hockey with the Calgary Hitmen and Kelowna Rockets from 2014-15 to 2017-18. 

“Carsen plays a physical, high-energy game, and we like his tenacity and willingness to compete,” added Francis. “He plays a responsible game and we like his motor.”

With Fleury and Twarynski signed, Dennis Cholowski is the only remaining RFA without a finalized contract.

Around the boards

The Florida Panthers announced this week that “Jumbo” Joe Thornton is taking his talents to Sunrise, where he has signed on for a one-year deal at the league minimum of $750,000. This will be Thornton’s 25th season in the NHL. He has 1,529 career points in 1,680 games with the Bruins, Sharks, and Maple Leafs, and will surely enjoy being back in a place where he never has to wear a shirt. 

The IIHF Women’s World Championship is finally set to begin this week in Calgary. The event was canceled altogether in 2020, then postponed and moved from Nova Scotia, where it was supposed to be played in May of 2021. Team USA begins prelims on Friday against Switzerland at 6:30 p.m. Pacific on NHL Network.

Everett Silvertips defenseman Olen Zellweger signed his entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks this week. Zellweger, 17, is a silky-smooth skater who had 13 points in 11 games for the Tips this past season. He was selected in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft last month, No. 34 overall, and is primed for a huge season in the WHL. 

Palate cleansers

The Kraken schedule now has game times.

Sound Of Hockey’s John Barr visited the Kraken Community Iceplex this week. Looks like the place is coming together!

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

Sound Of Hockey Podcast Ep. 150 – Featuring Kraken defenseman Cale Fleury

Sound Of Hockey Podcast Ep. 150 – Featuring Kraken defenseman Cale Fleury

In this episode of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast, we learn about “the stank of the Sabre” and what that means for players and coaches. We also hear from Cale Fleury, who was the youngest player selected in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. Get his side of the story that his brother had told about sending him home in tears at times when they were kids. Plus, hear about his offseason training plans and his expectations for where he slots in with the Kraken. 

Also on this show, plenty of Kraken news, including the hirings of Andrew Allen as goalie coach and Dan Bylsma as an assistant with the AHL Charlotte Checkers. 

Andy gives a WHL Update about Stu Barnes (former Kraken pro scout) becoming the head coach of the Tri-City Americans, the team he also coincidentally co-owns. 

John and Darren give Weekly One-Timers, then the guys wrap up with Tweets of the Week.

SUBSCRIBE! ENJOY! REVIEW! 

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How does the Seattle Kraken roster actually stack up against the NHL?

How does the Seattle Kraken roster actually stack up against the NHL?

The last week and a half have been bonkers for the Kraken and their fledgling fanbase. Thirty players were selected in the Expansion Draft, three of those were traded away, seven prospects were taken in the NHL Entry Draft, and three significant unrestricted free agents were signed. There will come a time in the near future when we will feel the need to analyze and dissect every transaction that involves a Kraken player. But with things happening in such rapid succession, we really haven’t had a chance to take a step back and consider what the Seattle Kraken actually have in their initial roster.

So, let’s give it a gander, shall we?

Projected depth chart

Forwards

Jaden Schwartz – Alex Wennberg – Jordan Eberle

Jared McCann – Yanni Gourde – Calle Jarnkrok

Brandon Tanev – Colin Blackwell – Joonas Donskoi

Morgan Geekie – Mason Appleton – Nathan Bastian

Defense

Mark Giordano – Adam Larsson

Vince Dunn – Jamie Oleksiak

Carson Soucy – Haydn Fleury / Jeremy Lauzon

Goalies

Philipp Grubauer

Chris Driedger

Joey Daccord

Vying for spots

Forwards

Alexander True / Luke Henman / Carsen Twarynski / Kole Lind

Defense

Cale Fleury / Will Borgen / Dennis Cholowski

Now, this is obviously just our guess at how things will shake out. Yanni Gourde had surgery and is expected to miss a month or two, so already the Kraken may have a spot for a guy like Alexander True out of the gates, though we think more forwards will be added before the season starts.

Impressive at defense and goalie, better than people realize at forward

The depth on defense is impressive. We see Haydn Fleury and Jeremy Lauzon as interchangeable options on the third pair, but both of those guys are legit NHL players who played as many as 25 minutes on a given night this past season. We also list Cale Fleury as being on the outs, but he played 41 games for Montreal as a 22-year-old, so he will get a look in training camp. He’s also a right-shot defenseman, which is valuable, as he is one of just three on the Seattle Kraken roster (Adam Larsson and Will Borgen are the other two).

With Philipp Grubauer taking over the starting spot in the goalcrease and Vitek Vanecek sent back to Washington, the Grubauer/Chris Driedger tandem looks to be one of the better batteries in the NHL. Combined, the duo had a regular-season save percentage of .924 in 2020-21, which legitimately puts Seattle at the top of the league if they both put up comparable numbers. So, with all that, it’s pretty easy to imagine the Kraken being a difficult team against which to score.

“I think our D corps is really good,” Grubauer said on Friday during his media availability. “Forwards too. With [Jaden Schwartz], some experience in the forward section there, so it’s going to be really interesting what system coach puts in place, and we’ve got to find our identity as a team too. The team looks great on paper, but obviously you’ve got to play and create some chemistry, and I think it’s a young team so really looking forward.”

Even with the free agent signings of Schwartz and Alex Wennberg, though, the prevailing theory seems to be that the forward corps is thin and won’t produce enough goals. There is a good group of secondary- and tertiary-type scorers in guys like Gourde, Jared McCann, Calle Jarnkrok, and Joonas Donskoi. That should bring a balanced attack throughout the top three lines, regardless of how head coach Dave Hakstol draws it up. But without high-octane scoring leaders, can Seattle get enough offensive production in a score-by-committee approach?

I’m no data guy, but let’s look at this from a slightly more analytical angle, rather than just straight-up eyeball testing it. The 12 forwards and six defensemen that we have slotted into the above depth chart (let’s assume the last spot on the blue line goes to Haydn Fleury just because he has more NHL experience than Lauzon) combined for 168 total goals in the shortened 2020-21 season. That sounds weak, right?

Well, actually, if the Seattle Kraken had played this past season and those 18 players had made up the entirety of their roster and produced that exact same amount of goals, they would have landed even with the Boston Bruins in a tie for 14th place in the NHL.

That’s an oversimplification because there are myriad factors that we are not taking into account that would skew things in both directions. For example, Wennberg was playing on a very good line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Patric Hornqvist, so perhaps his numbers were skewed up. Schwartz missed 16 games and only managed eight goals after scoring 22 the year before, so we would imagine that his production was skewed down.

The point is that although the first glance may tell you there isn’t enough firepower in the forward group, it does feature a pretty good contingent of guys who consistently score 20+ goals in the NHL. If you put enough of those guys in one lineup, they collectively produce at a pretty good clip.

The below tweet also looks quite nice.

How will intangibles factor into the Seattle Kraken roster?

We also can’t forget about the intangibles. It’s no secret that Ron Francis and company have been focused on finding “character” guys and players who never quit on a play, and they have been successful in this endeavor. How that factors into the team’s success remains to be seen, but things like that do have an impact.

“I think everybody kind of has a little bit of the same makeup,” said Kraken forward Colin Blackwell during a Zoom call with press on Friday. “A lot of guys have talked about just what a good group of character guys it is, and I can’t tell you how far that goes in the game that we play, bringing in a bunch of good guys.”

“The roster is shaping up really well,” Blackwell added. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are kind of like myself, guys that can play up and down the lineup. We’ve got a good mix of some young, really good players, some people that are really hungry and maybe have only played one or two years under their belt but have a lot of potential and can really turn into some great players. You have a great mix there, and it starts with goaltending and the goaltending that we got is really good… So I think the roster is looking awesome. I’m extremely excited about it.”

Will the Kraken be the top-scoring team in the league? Absolutely not. But they’re going to score enough to get by, their defense appears very solid, their goaltending looks outstanding, and their compete level should be quite high. Let’s not forget, there’s still plenty of cap space to add either before or during the season, so Seattle is in a pretty good spot here.

Header photo by Brian Liesse.

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.