NHL Pacific Division Reset: Seattle Kraken

Kraken add Burakovsky, try to build winning culture in second season

Hope two-time Cup winner, newcomers Schultz, Bjorkstrand boost power play

by Jackie Spiegel @jackiespiegel93 / NHL.com Staff Writer

2021-22 season: 27-49-6, eighth in Pacific Division; did not qualify for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Key arrivals

Andre Burakovsky, F: The 27-year-old signed a five-year contract July 13 after winning the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche last season. He had an NHL career-high 61 points (22 goals, 39 assists) in 80 regular-season games and eight points (three goals, five assists) in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He also won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018. … Oliver Bjorkstrand, F: The 27-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets on July 22. He had an NHL career-high 57 points (28 goals, 29 assists) with an average ice time of 17:57 per game, third among Columbus forwards, in 80 regular-season games last season. … Justin Schultz, D: The 32-year-old agreed to a two-year contract July 13. He had 23 points (four goals, 19 assists) in 74 regular-season games last season with the Capitals and had three points (one goal, two assists) in six postseason games. Schultz won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017. … Martin Jones, G: The 32-year-old signed a one-year contract July 13. He is expected to back up Philipp Grubauer while Chris Driedger recovers from surgery he had in June to repair a torn ACL (he’s expected to miss at least the first three months of the season). In 35 games (33 starts) with the Philadelphia Flyers last season, Jones was 12-18-3 with a 3.42 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.

Key departures

Riley Sheahan, F: An unrestricted free agent, he had 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 69 regular-season games last season. … Daniel Sprong, F: Acquired in a trade with the Capitals on March 21, he did not receive a qualifying offer and became an unrestricted free agent July 13. Sprong had six goals in 16 games with the Kraken last season and 20 points (14 goals, six assists) in 63 regular-season games with Washington and Seattle. … Victor Rask, F: Acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on March 21, the unrestricted free agent had 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 47 regular-season games with Minnesota and Seattle.

On the cusp

Matty Beniers, F: The 19-year-old was the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, the first selection in Kraken history. He had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 10 games with Seattle last season after signing a three-year, entry-level contract April 10 following the completion of his sophomore season at the University of Michigan. … Shane Wright, F: The 18-year-old was selected No. 4 in the 2022 NHL Draft and signed a three-year, entry-level contract July 13. He had 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 63 regular-season games with Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League last season and 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 11 playoff games. … Alexander True, F: The 25-year-old signed a one-year, two-way contract July 12. He had no points in eight games with Seattle last season and led Charlotte of the American Hockey League with 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists) in 60 regular-season games.

What they still need

Help on the penalty kill. The Kraken are building from the ground up entering their second season and brought in key pieces that should help establish a winning culture, but though Bjorkstrand (19 power-play points last season), Burakovsky (11) and Schultz (five) are expected to spice up a power play that was fourth worst in the NHL last season (14.6 percent), the three combined for 8:08 of shorthanded ice time. They won’t do much to jump-start a penalty kill that was tied for 30th in the League (Vancouver Canucks, 74.9 percent).

They said it

“There’s some exciting young talent in Seattle with Matty coming up and just drafting Shane. The goal for us coming into the season is to be very competitive from the beginning, go out there and push and push for playoffs. The goal is to make playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup.” — forward Brandon Tanev

Fantasy focus

Beniers is likely to play on the top line after an impressive start for Seattle last season, leading NHL rookies in points per game (0.90, minimum 10 games). Beniers is the highest-ranked rookie (No. 126) in NHL.com’s top 250 and gains fantasy appeal from the additions of Bjorkstrand and Burakovsky. Beniers should be considered a fringe top 125 overall fantasy player as the Kraken look to build on their inaugural season. — Anna Dua

Projected lineup

Andre Burakovsky — Matty Beniers — Oliver Bjorkstrand

Jaden Schwartz — Alex Wennberg — Jordan Eberle

Jared McCann — Yanni Gourde — Karson Kuhlman

Brandon Tanev — Morgan Geekie — Joonas Donskoi

Vince Dunn — Adam Larsson

Jamie Oleksiak — Justin Schultz

Carson Soucy — William Borgen

Philipp Grubauer

Martin Jones

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