The Seattle Kraken made quite the leap last season from their inaugural NHL campaign. Seattle made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2022-23, going up against the Colorado Avalanche. And not only did the Kraken beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Avs, they nearly made the Western Conference Finals.
Seattle has quite the foundation in place to continue their success moving forward. However, things only get harder in this league. Especially when teams have seen what you are all about. The Kraken have the potential to go far, but the team has to earn the strides they hope to make.
The Kraken began their preseason campaign on Monday, facing a Calgary Flames team coming off a 10-0 blowout victory against the Vancouver Canucks. Seattle's regular season opens on October 10 against the new Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights.
Before the games officially count, let's take a deeper look at this team. Here is a complete 2023-24 NHL season preview for a Seattle Kraken team eyeing another run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Jordan Eberle's contract year
Jordan Eberle enjoyed a nice bounce-back season in 2022-23. His 63 points a year ago were the most he'd recorded in a single season since 2014-15 when he also posted 63 points. He emerged as a reliable option on the second-line wing and showed his value in the playoffs. Eberle led the team with six goals and scored 14 points in the postseason.
Eberle is entering a contract year, meaning he'll hit the open market next summer. This creates a dilemma for the Kraken. Do they try and re-sign the 33-year-old winger to a short-term extension? Or is there a trade out there that could net them NHL-ready talent that can contribute now and down the line?
Of course, this all depends on whether the Kraken are in the hunt for the playoffs come March 8. And it depends on whether Eberle replicates his production from last season. But the dilemma remains, and it'll be interesting to see how Seattle navigates the situation moving forward.
Kraken's goaltending woes
One area of concern for the Kraken this season is their goaltending. The team had woeful goaltending in their first season where they finished near the bottom of the league. And while they did make the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the team didn't necessarily receive the greatest performances in net.
Four goaltenders have taken the ice to play goal for the Kraken. And not a single one of them has posted a save percentage north of .900. This season, the goaltending tandem could prove to be Phillip Grubauer and Joey Daccord. They have to step up if the Kraken want to return to playoff hockey. If Seattle receives improved goaltending, perhaps they contend for a division title this season.
More for Jared McCann?
Jared McCann became the franchise's first 40-goal scorer last season. That total and his 70 points from a year ago both represent career highs. In fact, both totals smashed his previous career highs of 27 goals and 50 points. In short, McCann is the closest thing to a star the Kraken have.
However, one has to wonder whether McCann can do more. Could he score more than 40 goals in a season? At the very least, can he maintain a 30-40 goal pace while dishing out more assists? McCann is going to play a major role for the Kraken this season, and his production needs to match that.
Of course, McCann is not the only one who needs to take a step. Everyone expects Matty Beniers to emerge as a star sooner rather than later, for example. But given his accomplishment last season, McCann may feel pressure to improve upon his career year in 2023-24. If he does, Seattle should be in the thick of the playoff race.
Roster bubble candidates
One roster bubble candidate to keep an eye on this preseason is forward Kole Lind. Lind is 24 and came over to the Kraken through the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. However, the young forward faces an uphill battle to make this roster. Seattle boasts one of the deepest teams in the league, even with the loss of some valued depth pieces this summer. It's not impossible, but it's not entirely straightforward either.
On defense, there are two roster bubble candidates to speak of. Seattle's top six is already set, but there is a battle for the team's seventh defenseman about to take place. Cale Fleury and Jaycob Megna will duke it out to be the team's go-to depth blueliner. Fleury is the younger option with more upside, though Megna provides more NHL experience.
Final roster projection
Forwards: Jared McCann, Matty Beniers, Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Wennberg, Andre Burakovsky, Eeli Tolvanen, Yanni Gourde, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Brandon Tanev, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Kailer Yamamoto
Defenseman: Vince Dunn, Adam Larsson, Jamie Oleksiak, Will Borgen, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz
Goalies: Phillip Grubauer, Joey Daccord