I’ve now made all of my picks for the Kraken, and it’s time to look at where that would leave Seattle as a team. A few reminders of my methodology before diving in, along with links to the picks themselves.
This is my projection of how I would approach the draft, not a prediction of how the Kraken will actually handle it. So much of the Kraken’s actual decisions will depend on the style of team they want to build and their overall organizational strategy.
I mention some potential trade targets and structures, but have not predicted any trades yet. That will come in my next version of the draft.
I’ve aimed to build the best team I could, and have ensured that I meet the requirements of the draft. However, that’s left me with a team that would have too many NHL caliber players in the minors. Some of that will be addressed with the trades in the next version, while the Kraken will also choose in some cases to pick fringe players instead of the best player available.
I’ve made sure the team would be able to put out two powerplay and penalty kill units, but have not yet addressed items like ensuring the powerplay units have a workable mixture of right and left-handed shots.
In this scenario, the strength of the Kraken clearly becomes their goaltending, as well as at least the left side of their defense. In addition to being able to limit scoring, there is enough puck moving ability here to get the puck out of the zone and drive possession. That might not make for the most exciting hockey, but it should at least keep Seattle close in games.
Up front, the Kraken have a few steady and dependable scorers, but would largely be dependent upon seeing breakouts from a number of their younger picks. That’s especially true of the third line under this lineup. The Kraken in this scenario have a first line that may be asked to play some tough minutes, but has multiple dependable scoring threats. The second line needs improvement from Namestnikov, but gives him young wingers who can score. The fourth line is capable, but largely is going to be asked to just drive some possession and contain the other team - that leaves a third line of players who still need to break out if the Kraken are going to have enough depth scoring.
Special teams are a similar story. This isn’t a group full of true shutdown defensive players on the penalty kill, but it does have enough players who have proven themselves to at least be serviceable on the PK. The powerplay, unsurprisingly, looks much more questionable. There are some pieces here, including strong net front presences and some options to QB and move the puck. The area that’s clearly lacking is top end shooters; with the focus across the league on power plays that move the puck to the circles for shots, the Kraken would need to find a way to go against the grain to be successful. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but requires coaching that can identify and exploit those alternatives.
Considering I didn’t go for any AHL depth picks and took on huge contracts in a few situations, the Kraken are left in a surprisingly good situation. With 23 players signed, Seattle would be at a cap hit of $69.6M and actual cash outlay of $72.7M. With the cap expected to be staying flat at $81.5, that leaves a lot of room to add depth and to potentially take on more in trades. It also allows for the Kraken to potentially retain salary in any trades that allow them to fill in some of the holes in their lineup.
Other Considerations/Next Steps
For a team that should be strong enough defensively and in net to at least keep games close, a key facet of the team’s competitive standing may be their ability in shootouts. Seattle should be relatively well setup to gain those extra points more often than most with this lineup. Allen and Khudobin are both strong in that area, ranking 5th and 17th in career shootout save percentage. Offensively, Oshie is the standout with a reputation as a top shootout scorer - he’s scored on 49.5% of his career opportunities. If this lineup played out, Mittelstadt would be the other strong option for Seattle, scoring on 37.5% of his limited opportunities. Beyond those two options the choices are limited, but that may already be enough to win most of their shootouts.
The key outstanding decisions for Seattle in this case, beyond free agency and the draft, would be which players can then be flipped for additional scoring. As mentioned in the individual articles, that likely involves moving Connor Murphy for sure - there is too much interest in his talent around the league for him to be a seventh defenseman. He’s not going to garner a key threat offensively, but he could at least return a middle-six forward that can provide some needed depth scoring.
Obviously, Murphy is just one of the picks in this lineup that will likely not be available for the Kraken based on how the season has progressed over the past couple months. Despite that, this lineup shows that there will still be opportunities for the Kraken to put together a competitive team. I’ll return to the draft again after the trade deadline, as the Kraken’s likely options should be much clearer.